Auto Learning Center|Dog Safe Driving

Dog-Safe Driving

Dogs provide companionship to millions of people and are considered by many to be important members of the family. Dogs often tag along in the car as we go about our day-to-day errands and accompany us on longer road trips as well. With this increased time spent in the car together, it is important to minimize driver distractions, restrict the dog’s movement in the vehicle, and keep everyone safe.

According to a recent survey sponsored by AAA and Kurgo Pet products, 29% of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving, and 65% have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog, including petting their dog (52%); allowing their dog to sit on their lap (17%); and giving food or treats to their dog while behind the wheel (13%).1

Restraint Systems

Using a restraint system for your dog is one of the best ways for you, your passengers, and your pet to travel safely in a vehicle. Restraints help keep dogs from becoming projectiles, being hurt by an air bag deploying, or jumping out of the window when you come to a stop. Restraint systems can also help prevent injury when dogs stick their head out of the window, as so many of them like to do. Many pet owners don’t realize how dangerous this action alone can be. It can put the pet in danger of a head injury or an eye injury as debris whips through the air.

There are a variety of restraint systems on the market that can help keep your dog safe. Consider installing one of the following systems in your vehicle:

  • Dog crates or kennels can be used as long as they are secured with a seat belt designed specifically for those products.
  • A car pet harness, also known as a dog seat belt, has adjustable straps that fit various size dogs. The harness wraps around the dog, securing him or her in the seat. The harness is padded for comfort, and has connectors and straps that attach to the car’s seatbelt or LATCH system. You could also use tethers to connect the harness to the seat. Avoid attaching the restraining device to the pet’s collar to avoid accidental choking.
  • Pet booster seats or basket-style holders are good options for smaller dogs. In addition to securing your dog, these restraint systems provide your dog with a view of the outside world, while keeping them safely tucked inside the vehicle.
  • Cargo barriers can be installed to help contain dogs to the cargo area of your vehicle. Available in a variety of materials, including mesh, they help to put distance between the driver and the dog by restricting the pet’s movements to the rear of the vehicle. Before purchasing a cargo barrier, be sure to measure the space available in the vehicle to help ensure that you buy an appropriately sized model.

Regardless of the restraint system that you decide to use, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely install and operate it.

Taking the important step of making sure your dog is restrained, provides a safer ride for you, your passengers, and your pet. Restraint systems help minimize distractions, decrease the chance of creating a blind spot that could lead to an accident, and protect the dog from injury.

In addition to making sure your dog is properly secured, when traveling by car with your furry friend some best practices include stopping for water and potty breaks every few hours; avoiding overfeeding your dog to lessen the chance of carsickness; and being careful not to leave your dog alone in the car, especially when it is particularly cold or hot outside. Keep in mind a closed car can reach high temperatures that are fatal to dogs very quickly. Remember, dogs can’t sweat like humans do to cool off and many heavy coats – meaning they can suffer from heatstroke at temperatures non-fatal to humans.

With these tips in mind, you and your dog are more likely to have countless safe trips together.

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1 Source: “Doggie Distractions Fact Sheet,” 2011 AAA/Kurgo® Pet Passenger Safety Survey. Accessed April 2014.


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