Keeping Your Dog Safe – in the Car

How feasible is it to protect your dog from every eventuality 100% of the time? I don’t know that it is, but with Jake and Truly I try to mitigate as much risk as is possible.

When we travel by car Jake and Truly are secured in a crash tested crate. I bought the crate last year when I was travelling on the motorway every week. It’s a Variocage Double Max and I chose this particular crate because I had been researching for some time. These were the only crates I saw that passed ‘Front, Rear & Roll-Over’ crash tests, and so my mind was made up. if someone hit the back of my car on the motorway Jake and Truly would be most likely to survive. If this is something that interests you too, you can see the results of their crash tests in their video here https://mimsafeuk.com/ If it’s something you decide to buy for your dog, don’t worry if self-assembly isn’t your forte either. I bought mine from a big pet store in Birmingham where they measured and fitted it for me. Please contact me if you’d like their details.

My car is a long wheel base 7-seater, I’ve removed the rear seats to create extra space for the crate. I added a custom boot liner (from Boot Buddy) and added extra tints to the rear widows to reduce heat and glare from the sun, this also had the added benefit of shielding Truly from too much visual stimulation.

Their crates have beds and non-spill water bowls (really handy). Jake is quite happy to travel, and mostly sleeps. Would it surprise you if I said that Truly absolutely hates travelling? I suspect because she wasn’t introduced to it at a young age. I’ve spent hours and hours working with Truly on settling her in the car. I started by feeding her meals in her crate with the door open, building up to closing the crate, closing the rear door, leaving the engine running. I’ve tried complementary chill out drops on her blanket (which actually worked really well on me), and progressed to medication from the vet. After trying all of the options available I no longer medicate her. Nowadays she is happy to be in the car and in her crate, but that’s as far as it goes. She will whine and cry in transit, but this is a vast improvement from the deafening howling! I’ve had to accept the kindest approach is to only travel distances when really necessary, with planned stops to break up journeys. Despite working from home since March and keeping to the rules of Corona, I’ve maintained shorter journeys in the car for her to ensure the work we’ve done isn’t lost.

I have previously made up filled Kongs on journeys, but using Kongs clearly depends on whether your dog can be trusted in the crate with a Kon, doesn’t get travel sickness and/or get stressed. I had been giving Jake and Truly mashed sweet potato and fish pre prepared and frozen filled Kongs for long journeys, but I’ve subsequently learnt that if your dog is panting there is a risk of them swallowing air whilst eating, and this can potentially cause bloat. Bloat is a serious condition that can affect any breed. Consequently, I no longer give them filled Kongs in the car.

Securing your dog whilst travelling in a vehicle is not only common sense, the Highway Code Rule 57 states that you must ensure that “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.”

The Dogs Trust have a handy guide you can find here https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/training/training-factsheets/travelling%20in%20a%20car.pdf

Until next time

Jen

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