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Planning a holiday abroad with your furry companion? Maybe you want to explore the countryside or just set off on a road trip with your dog. Travelling with your pet can be a fun and rewarding experience for you both, however, there are certain rules you must follow to keep you and your pet safe. Rule 57 of The Highway Code states that it is the driver’s responsibility to “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”. These regulations mean that if you were in an accident caused by your dog distracting you whilst driving, this would be considered ‘dangerous driving’ and you could face a 12-month driving ban and a minimum of three points on your driving license. Also, you may find that some car insurance providers require you to restrain your pet whilst driving.
Dog travel equipment such as a cage or a carrier is a safe and hassle-free way to restrain your dog whilst they are in the car. They both work the same way by comfortably containing your dog and preventing them from moving around your vehicle whilst you’re driving, however, it depends on the size of your dog as to whether you should use a carrier or a cage.
Carriers are best designed for small breeds such as Chihuahuas, as they are not big enough for medium to large-sized dogs to fit in comfortably. Carriers give the advantage of being able to be placed in the footwell so you can still use your car boot and they also have handles which make them more portable than a cage.
Cages utilise the boot space of the car, allowing your pet more freedom to move around without distracting you or jumping on the backseats of your vehicle. Cages are more expensive than carriers due to their size and the materials they are made from, and most come with a waterproof removable base to make cleaning the cage easier.
Whilst some dogs love the excitement of being in the car, others may find the experience a little daunting and even get carsick. To prevent this from happening, try to get your pet used to the motion of the vehicle before setting off on a long journey by firstly, taking them on a shorter car ride. Offering their favourite treat and lining their carrier or cage with a comfortable bed or blanket will help your dog associate travelling with a positive experience. Opening the window to allow plenty of fresh air and interesting smells to keep your dog distracted may help calm their anxiety.
Dogs that have never been in a carrier before will travel better if you get them used to their carrier well in advance of a car journey. Again, lining the carrier with a comfortable blanket will make it more appealing as well as giving your dog a treat or their favourite toy whilst inside. It is a good idea to leave the carrier out as a place for your dog to sleep in during the day and up to the car journey so that they see the carrier positively, as a safe place for them to rest just like their bed.
It is recommended that you give your dog a break every two hours so that they can go to the toilet and stretch their legs. Offer water each time you stop for a break. Remember, never to leave your dog in the car on hot days, even when cloudy, they can heat up quickly and suffer from heatstroke.