Driving with Dogs – Essential Tips to Keep Your Four-Legged Friend Safe

Dog with head out of car

Whether you’re heading to the beach, park or even the job-site, travelling with your dog can (and should be) a pleasurable experience for all, especially your four-legged friend who surely loves the opportunity to get out and about.

While dogs generally love travelling with their masters, they can get over-excited or nervous, or there may be a need for them to spend a little time on their own at some point. Before you next hit the road with your pampered pooch in tow, here are a few important things to bear in mind.

Secure your pooch

For their safety and yours, dogs should always be restrained when travelling in the car, even if it’s a short trip down the road. One of the best options is to purchase a harness, which you can secure to a seatbelt. These are widely available at a reasonable price.

If your dog is enjoying the fresh air in the back of your ute and they’re not in a cage or carrier, they must be secured with a harness or neck collar at all times. The tether should be centred and short enough so that it doesn’t allow the pooch to move outside of the tray, and it should have something comfortable, like a mat or blanket, to rest on too.

Also, bear in mind that it’s illegal to drive with a dog in your lap and that you can also receive a fine if an animal causes you not to be in full control of the car. What’s more, if an accident occurs and your pooch is injured due to not being properly restrained, the RSPCA can take legal action. This can result in a driver being fined up to $5,500 or serving prison time.

Keep them cool

Cars can heat up quickly, especially in the warmer months. As is the case with children of any age, dogs shouldn’t be left unattended in a car for longer periods. Leaving a window or two down doesn’t make the situation any less dangerous and you’re still putting your beloved pet at risk. According to the RSPCA, a dog can die in just 6 minutes in a hot car. They have prosecuted owners whose pets have been injured as a result of being left in cars unattended.

Moreover, think twice about transporting your pooch in the ute tray during the hotter months, as they’re exposed to the sun, and aluminium and other tray materials heat up fast. Also, fresh water is a must when transporting a dog, whether they’re travelling with you in the cabin or on their own in the back of the ute.

What you can do

If you ever come across a dog that you feel is in danger, try to bring it to the owner’s attention. If that fails, the RSPCA operates a cruelty hotline — 1300 852 188. If it’s an urgent situation that needs attention right now, you can also call the Police for assistance.

The RSPCA’s awareness campaign “Just 6 Minutes” encourages dog owners to pledge that they’ll never leave their dog in a car unattended – are you ready to take the pledge?

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