Did you know you could be breaking the law if your dog isn’t suitably restrained when travelling by car? Whether you are just popping into a relative’s house or going on a long road trip, ensuring your dog is comfortable and secure will provide safe travel for all. The highway code states that motorists need to ensure that dogs are suitably restrained while travelling, with many of these rules ending in a law being broken if not followed.

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How to safely travel with a dog in your car

There are a number of reasons as to why restraining your dog in a car is necessary. If dogs are not secured properly, this could result in safety hazards towards passengers, the driver, other drivers and the dog itself.

  • Restraints: make sure to invest in a good quality harness, crate or guard which can keep your dog and the rest of the passengers safe. All three of these accessories will ensure your dog can’t move around whilst travelling but they are also secure in case any road accidents occur.
  • Carrying water and refreshments: cars can get overheated quickly, especially during warmer months, meaning even if you’re travelling a small distance, your dog might still need some water when you’ve arrived at your destination. If you’re travelling for a long period of time, you will also want to consider taking their normal meals to keep them hydrated and fed along the way.
  • Making regular stops: dogs aren’t used to being cooped up in small spaces and will need to be let out regularly in order to stretch their legs and go to the toilet. Many dogs might also suffer from motion sickness so regular stops can help calm this.
  • Remember their name tag: if you’re leaving home, your dog should always have their name tag on, especially if you’re travelling or going somewhere you or they aren’t familiar with.
  • Ensure your car is ready for travel and has been thoroughly checked before setting off including tyre pressure, insurance, brakes, windows and top up liquids.

Things to avoid when travelling with a dog

  • Don’t let your dog hang out the window
  • Having your airbags switched off
  • Opening windows the full way
  • Feeding your dog before you travel
  • Leaving your dog alone in the car
  • Forgetting snacks and any medication
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Laws around having your dog in the car

The laws in the UK have recently changed in terms of travelling with your dog in the car. Rules 57 of the Highway Code states that dogs should be suitably restrained so they can’t distract drivers or cause injury. If it’s found that a dog is unsuitable restrained and an accident occurs, this can lead to a fine of up to £5000. This code also advises against allowing dogs to travel in the front passenger seat.

Although there is no specific law surrounding dogs wearing seatbelts or harnesses, it is advised that owners use a proper harness or dog seat belt attached to secure the dog and prevent movement. There are a number of specific dog accessories that can be bought to ensure they are safe and comfortable whilst travelling.