The Herald - The Herald Magazine



Dog ownership has rocketed in recent months, with more people getting a pet during lockdown. But with dog ownership comes the need to, on occasion, transport them elsewhere, which means you might need to take them in the car.

There are many ways you can make the journey as smooth and safe as possible. We spoke to welfare charity Dogs Trust to see what people can do to ensure their four-legged friends are safe and comfortabl­e in the car.

Keep things secure

The Highway Code stipulates that dogs need to be properly restrained in the vehicle. It means that dogs should be kept in a properly fitting seatbelt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog guard. They’ve got to be securely fitted too, to ensure that your dog can’t get loose and interfere with whoever is behind the wheel.

Many car companies offer their own dedicated dog accessorie­s, such as those for Land Rover’s Discovery Sport. It’s always worth checking to see if there’s a bespoke option for your car as it could make elements such as installing and using them easier.

Don’t leave your dog alone in the car

Although it might be tempting to leave your dog in the car if you’re dashing in somewhere, it’s something that should be avoided. Leaving your dog unattended in the vehicle increases the risk of them being stolen, so you should always take them with you.

If you’re filling up with fuel, ensure you lock the vehicle when you pay, or ask a passenger to take them on a quick walk in the meantime.

Keep them cool

Make sure that you keep your dog cool when travelling. Keeping nonspill water bowls to hand can help, as can factoring in short walks or exercise breaks during the journey.

Try to avoid travelling during the hottest part of the day, and consider fitting window blinds to keep the car cool. Never leave your pet alone in the car on a hot day. They can be vulnerable to the heat, and sadly pets do die in hot cars far more than people realise.

Stay calm

Dogs Trust says it’s important to keep your dog calm and ensure that it is paying attention to you before they get in or out of the car. Allowing your dog to exit the vehicle immediatel­y after you stop could cause them to expect this each time you come to a halt, which could be dangerous in the long run.

Dogs should be taught to wait for you to attach their lead properly before being allowed to carefully exit the car.

Positive reinforcem­ent

For many dogs, travelling in a car can be challengin­g. After all, it’s a new and somewhat scary environmen­t for many. It’s why drivers should try to help their dogs to become familiar with car rides by undertakin­g several short trips first, before setting out on a longer one. By doing so, you’ll be able to reward them for being calm in the car, or even for just being near the vehicle.

Take supplies

It’s worthwhile keeping a supply of your dog’s usual food in the car. It means that, should you get stuck in traffic, you’re not left high and dry with a hungry hound.

Keep a lead close at hand

Ensure you keep your dog’s harness and lead close to at hand when you’re driving, just in case you need to quickly exit the car in an emergency.

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