Dog Safety In Vehicles

The Resource for Everything About Dogs


Dog Safety In Vehicles

by Melissa Murray



Would we put our children in the backseat of our vehicle without strapping them in safely? Of course not! So why then would we let our dog run free around the vehicle? In a collision at speeds of only 30mph, a 15lb dog can exert a force of up to 300lbs! Between 3 million and 5 million pets are killed each year in auto accidents, many which could have been prevented by simply securing them in a safety restraint.

Here are the top reasons to restrain you dog while traveling:

1) Prevent Driver Distraction
2) Protect Other Vehicle Occupants
-As mentioned above, the force exerted from a vehicle crash can be staggering. An unrestrained dog may be thrown at other occupants within the vehicle.
3) Easier For Rescue Workers
-A dog who has just been in an accident is likely to be shocked and confused, often causing them to attack people who are trying to help them.
4) Prevent Runaways/ Jumping From The Vehicle
-Dogs can be easily distracted. If they see something they want, they go for it. Even if this means jumping out of an open window!
5) Convenience
-Seatbelts will save you from having to hold your dog every time a window or door is opened. 6) Feeling Of Security
-Many dogs get carsick or uneasy when traveling in a vehicle. A seatbelt will keep him feel secure when braking, accelerating, and going around turns.
7) Law
-More and more states, counties, and cities are reinforcing pet restraint systems while traveling in a vehicle.

There are two main types of safety restraints for dogs:

1) Collar Restraint

One end attaches to your dog?s collar, the other end secures into the seatbelt fastener. This type of seatbelt works great if you were only running in to the store and had to leave your dog in the vehicle for a minute. It keeps them in the seat and prevents them from trying to jump out of an open window, also allowing you to keep the windows down for ventilation. However just think what would happen if the vehicle were to come to a sudden stop? Your dog?s neck would endure the force of the stop, choking him or even worse.

2) Full Body Harness Restraint

The full body harness restraint fastens securely around your dog?s chest, shoulders, and back. When in a collision, the force exerted is distributed evenly over the strongest parts of your dog?s body, keeping him safe and secure in the seat.

Harness Checklist:
-Be sure that the harness is designed for vehicle use.
-Be sure that the harness is suitable for your dog?s size and weight.
-Be sure that the harness fits properly.
-Be sure your dog can not become entangled in the harness.

The best way to get your dog used to traveling with a restraint is to start when they are puppies. The longer you wait before introducing a seatbelt, the harder it will be to get them to accept it. You should also start out with short trips in the beginning, for instance a drive around the block or to the corner store. Gradually work your way up to longer car rides. Reward your dog each time you place them in the restraint by taking them to the park or giving them a treat. This will put a positive spin on the experience!

Kennels & Carriers

Another option is a kennel or a carrier. These will keep your dog in a confined space within the vehicle to prevent distractions. However in a collision this may do even more damage being thrown around the vehicle if it is not secured safely within the vehicle. If you plan to use a kennel instead of a restraining seatbelt, be sure that you tightly secure the kennel to the seat or the floor of the vehicle.

Extra Tips:

1) After a collision, do not let your pet out of the harness or the vehicle until he is calm and the surroundings are safe unless, of course, in an emergency situation.
2) Do not place your dog in the way of any air bags.
3) Never let your dog put his head out of an open window when the vehicle is in motion.
4) Get insurance for your dog!

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