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Travelling safely in the car with your dog

  • 9, Sep 2020
  • Read time: 5 mins

It's nice to travel with the whole family, including your dog. Whether you're popping to the park or have a long drive ahead, it's important to keep your dog restrained and safe.

Golden retriever on lead sitting in the car boot.

Why is dog safety in the car so important?

We use seat belts while travelling in a car in case of an emergency, so why wouldn't you do the same for your dog? Although a car seat belt isn’t designed for dogs, there are many options to keep them safe.

If your dog has free reign of the car while it’s moving, it can be very distracting for the driver. This could result in dangerous driving or even an accident. Putting yourself, your dog, your passengers and other motorists in danger. You could even end up invalidating your car or pet insurance by not restraining your dog.

What is the law?

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you’re driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."

By not following this rule, you could face fines and penalty points on your licence. In some cases, you could get a driving ban and may need to take your test again.

What safety equipment can I buy?

There are plenty of great options to pick from depending on your dog and their needs. Here are a few things to think about before buying:

  • Your dog’s size and age
  • How confident they are in cars
  • Whether they like to see you
  • If they like to move about
  • If they like to lie down and relax

Harness seat belt

A harness seat belt secures your dog in one position with a strap that clicks into the seat belt. It attaches easily with your dog’s harness, so you can secure them in place. You can buy harnesses with adjustable straps to make sure it’s comfortable for your dog.

Suitable for:

  • All sized dogs
  • A relaxed, well behaved dog

Crates and carriers

A crate will keep your dog in one place for the duration of your journey. You can place the crate in the boot or on the back seat, depending on the size of your dog and car. Be sure to buy a crate big enough for your dog to stand and turn around in for comfort.

Suitable for:

  • All sized dogs
  • Dogs who like to explore on walks and get messy
  • Younger dogs if you are crate training

Boot guards

A guard in the boot can give your dog room to move and will stop them falling forward in the event of an emergency stop or accident. Make sure you bolt it to the floor and roof of your car, so it doesn't move while you're driving.

Suitable for:

  • All sized dogs
  • Dogs that like to see you
  • Dogs that enjoy moving about and stretching their legs during car journeys

Back seat hammock

A non-slip hammock offers a protected space across the back seats for your dog to lie down and stretch out. It connects from the back seat headrests to the front, keeping them safe on the back seats.

Suitable for:

  • All sized dogs
  • Older dogs who need to lie down and stretch during journeys.

Am I allowed to leave my dog alone in the car?

It isn't against the law to leave your dog alone in the car, but consider if it's necessary and if your dog's health is at risk.

If it’s a warm day, it’s dangerous for your dog’s health to be alone in a car. They could suffer heatstroke and it could even be fatal.

If you ever see a stressed dog in a car alone, the RSPCA has shared some useful tips on how you can help.

Will this impact my insurance?

If you need to make a pet or car insurance claim and you haven’t followed the law or Highway Code guidelines, your insurance could be invalid.

Find out more about our pet insurance so that you’re covered in case the unexpected happens.

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