Ireland is a nation of dog lovers and whether it’s a quick trip to the vet, a hike in the mountains or a weekend away, there are a number of steps we can take to keep our dog safe during the car ride.
Carzone teamed up with dog behaviour expert Suzi Walsh to provide tips on how to travel safely with our four-legged passengers.
Restrain your dog
Restrict your dog’s movement around the car while you drive with an approved dog harness and seatbelt or an approved dog guard or crate in the boot. If your dog travels in the front seat, make sure you disable the passenger air bag. You are legally required to restrain your pet while driving to stop them from distracting the driver or causing an injury to themselves or the driver if the car stops suddenly.
Familiarise the dog with the car
To avoid stress in the car, coax your dog in with tasty treats or a chew toy, do this before you start the car and spend ten minutes ensuring your dog is relaxed before you drive anywhere. Chew toys with treats hidden inside are a good way to keep your dog distracted and focused and will help avoid any distress while in the car.
Start with fun journeys
Start with short journeys to fun places with your dog, such as to the beach for a walk, this will get them used to the car and also ensure that they associate the car with positive experiences and are therefore more likely to remain calm.
Train your dog to respond to certain words
Train your dog to respond to the words settle or lie down to help on journeys where your dog might become overexcited or restless in the car. It also helps to have another person in the car on the first few journeys to help you keep the dog calm while you drive.
Play classical music
Play classical music or dog calming music in the car to help your dog relax and settle down, it has been shown that classical music has more of a calming effect on dogs than more upbeat tunes.
Make sure your dog is well exercised
Before going on a long journey make sure that your dog is very well exercised, a tired dog is a content dog and is less likely to be active or nervous in the car.
Prepare a doggy travel kit
Prepare a doggy travel kit including food, a water bowl, poo bags, and dog wipes for any dirty paws and messes that might arise on your journey. It is also a good idea to keep a blanket in the car for the dog to sit on, ensuring that you keep your car clean.
Never leave your dog alone in the car
Never leave your dog alone in a parked car, even with the windows down. On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace and heatstroke can develop which can be fatal. On a cold day, the car retains the cold temperature and could cause a dog to become ill.
Block your dog’s vision
If your dog tends to bark in the car, try to block its vision to the outside world, this will help to reduce unease and stop them barking. A dog barking in the car can be very distracting for a driver and its passengers.
Plan to take breaks
Where possible plan some breaks throughout longer journeys to allow the dog a chance to stretch its legs and some water, this will help to keep them calm and happy in the car.