Wednesday, 13 June 2018

How safe is your dog in your car?




Would you drive without a seat belt or allow your passengers or child to do so?

There have been various changes in the law in the UK over the years with attitudes to safer car travel following.  So, the answer is probably no!

You may be breaking the highway code and invalidating your car insurance if you don’t properly secure your dog.

So why do you allow your dog to travel unrestrained or just being held in someone’s arms?

The answer in part is not knowing the best way to keep your dog safe.

Seat belts and child seats undergo rigorous mandatory safety checks.  There is no official requirement for safer dog travel. 

Where should my dog be in my car?

In the boot space

The advantage of this solution is your dog is not going to interfere with your driving and you can still use your seats for people.

The disadvantage is you have limited space for luggage.

Safety-wise if you break suddenly your dog may travel over the top of the backseat through the car hitting the back of your head or the windscreen.  You should therefore consider the option of a crate, car guard or net, or to tether your dog in the boot space.  Most cars have a tether point in the boot space to use.

Your boot is designed to be a crumple zone to keep you safe in an accident.  This may therefore be the least safe place for your dog.

On the back seat

The advantage of this solution is your dog is not going to interfere with your driving and you can still use your boot for luggage.  The disadvantage is you have reduced space for passengers.

Safety-wise if you break suddenly your dog could travel through the car hitting the back of your head or the windscreen.  Tethering your dog will prevent this. 

On the front seat

The disadvantage of this solution is your dog may be a distraction to you potentially causing an accident. 

The advantage is your dog may be calmer being close to you. 

This solution is similar to having your dog on the back seat except for the fact that you may have a front passenger airbag.  Airbags are not designed for dogs and so could do more harm than good in an accident.  You may be able to deactivate your car’s passenger airbag.

What equipment should I use?

A tether

This is the most simple and cheap solution!

It can be used in the boot, back or front seat.

Keeping the tether short will minimise travel in the event of an accident and reduce whiplash.

When the dog is just tethered by its collar in an accident the collar could fail and the force may cause seriously damage the dog’s neck.

A harness

The better option is therefore to use a harness.  In the event of a crash the force would be distributed over the dog’s body.  A loose-fitting harness may allow the dog to get free in an accident.  The harness should therefore fit snug to the dog’s body.  The harness should also be of good construction so no part would not fail in an accident.

A dog car seat with a harness and tether

A car seat helps to keep your dog more contained, it may also be more comfortable, and helps keep your car cleaner.

It can be used in the boot, back or front seat.

This in itself is not safely equipment so a harness and tether should also be used!

A dog crate

This has the advantage of keeping your dog contained during travel.  The disadvantage is some dogs may find crate travel stressful.

In the event of an accident if your dog’s create is not securely tethered then not only will the dog be travelling through the car but the create will too.  You also need to consider that your dog will hit the front of the crate in the event of an accident and the crate may not withstand the force.

Depending on the car, crate, and dog size the crate may be placed in the boot, back seat or front seat.

What’s the safest option?

In the absence of official comparative crash test data, we don’t know!

You can buy a seat belt clip for just a couple of pounds.

However, this crash test video demonstrates the inadequacy of many harnesses in an accident. 



Look for a harness of good construction with sturdy clips.

Sleepypod have crash tested their dog car harnesses at 30mph.



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