Have you ever wondered if your car journeys with your dog were entirely safe? What would happen if you were to have an accident or a crash? Are there security systems which can guarantee that our dog would come out of an accident unscathed?
You may already be aware of the following rule stipulated in the Highway Code:
When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are 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 (rule 57).
We tend not to be aware of the fact that most car safety devices for dogs available on the market offer a warranty. Nor is it easy knowing whether the safety level offered by manufacturers in case of crash is in any way government-approved.
The Center for Pet Safety in the United Sates a “non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting pets and the people who love them” [sic], has been carrying out crash tests for several years with different products designed for dog fastening in cars of different manufacturers. During these crash tests, just like during those which have been carried out with human protection devices for several years, a car crash is simulated using a stuffed animal instead of a mannequin, while the whole process is being recorded. The results are alarming, considering that very few manufacters passed the test without the stuffed animal coming out of the crash seriously injured.
What types of security devices do we usually use for our dogs in the car?
1. Dog safety belt: fastened to a harness
The dog safety belt is currently one of the most popular devices, and although it has a lot of pros for the dog such as seating comfort, landscape visibility during the journey, or physical closeness to owners, it is much more dangerous than we think, especially so if we have not chosen the proper device.
What harness and belt device for dogs should I use and why?
The harness should be a double hook one designed specifically for fastening inside the car. Indeed, when we use a single hook harness, or one that is not suitable for car journeys, the harness buckle or even the harness itself will break and the dog will be propelled to the front seat and glove box of the car, which could cause serious harm, and depending on the speed, death.
It is also very important to take into account the fact that if the dog which is travelling is car-anxious, it will bark and become more agitated at the sight of people, cyclists and other dogs outside. Therefore this might not be the best option for your dog as it will also break your concentration while driving the car. In this case then, we recommend travelling with your dog in the boot using a car divider and a dog carrier.
2. Dog carrier in the back seat fastened wit seat belts:
Although at first sight this can seem like a safe system as the dog carrier is fastened to the seat belt hooks, it is certain that in case of a crash, with the dog carrier being placed in the back seat, the belt fastenings would snap and the carrier would be thrusted out of the car, not only breaking but also severely injuring the dog and whoever is inside the car.
If your dog is small, the dog carrier can be a safe place, if it is made of sturdy material and if placed on the floor, between the front seat and the back seat. In case of a crash, the carrier would have little space to be thrusted to and won’t come flying out of the car.
3. Car divider in the boot:
You can get a bespoke car divider for dogs on Travall for instance. This type of divider is placed between the back seat and the boot, and will make sure the dogs travel comfortably, with more freedom of movement, that way less likely to break the driver’s concentration and freeing up space in the back seat for other human passengers. However even then, in case of a crash, the risk of a sudden impact cannot be avoided entirely due to the vast space available in the boot. If you want to use a car divider, your dog will be even safer if inside a carrier.
4. Dog carrier in the car boot:
This is the safest system for dogs of medium and large size. Make sure you always use a made to measure car divider for dogs.
It is vital that the carrier be of strong material, easy to lock, easily ventilated and comfortable for your dog.
In case of an accident, the divider will prevent the carrier from flying forward to the back seat and the carrier itself will contain better the dog’s sudden movement after the impact. Another positive aspect of this kind of system is that in case of an accident, the dog won’t be able to run outside of the car in shock which would be a major risk for its life and that of the other passengers.