Most dogs love going for a ride in the car. Cars take them to all their favorite places — the dog park, a daytime hike, up north to play in the snow, and lots of other great places. However, in order to travel to all their important social engagements dogs must be properly restrained to keep them safe.
• Proper restraint keeps dogs safely in their place minimizing their injuries in the event of an accident.
• An unrestrained dog can become a projectile causing potential injuries to others.
• If rescue workers must extricate you from your vehicle, proper restraint will prevent your animals from escaping from the car during the rescue.
• Proper restraint keeps a dog in his/her place preventing that nervous or excited pacing that dogs do from window to window. Restraint generally keeps them calmer.
• Restraint is especially important with multiple dogs keeping everyone in their own spot minimizing bickering between dogs and potential fights over space.
How do you properly restrain your dog in the car? There are many ways to keep your dogs safely restrained.
• Properly secured crates can be a safe way to transport your dog. With a small dog, their crate can be secured in the seatbelt. With a medium or large dog, their crate can be secured in your SUV or van. Crates need to be in a fully enclosed vehicle. Crates that are tied down in the bed of a pick-up truck are not safely secured. Dogs crated in the inside of the vehicle have the greatest protection in the event of a rollover.
• Dogs can be safely restrained just like humans — in a seatbelt. There are car harnesses available at all the major pet supply retailers for this purpose. The harness can be looped through the seatbelt per the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Leashed dogs can also be properly restrained by closing the leash in the top part of the car door, leaving enough leash for them to lie down but not move around. The remaining length of the leash hanging out of the car door can be pushed through an open window. The window can then be closed on the leash so it doesn’t flop around. This is especially helpful because you have to take hold of the leash before opening the door, which gives added control.
Just like children, dogs need to be safely restrained to keep everyone safe. And just like children, dogs shouldn’t travel in the front seat where the airbag is located. With a little planning and forethought, dogs can happily and safely accompany you on all your favorite adventures, activities, and road trips.
• Sam Kabbel, CPDT-KA, is owner and president of Valley-based Pet Behavior Solutions, serving the Phoenix area. For more information, visit www.petbehaviorsolutions.com.