Dog Vehicle Safety: Why You Should Restrain Your Dog In A Car

If you’re over the age of 40, you can probably remember riding around town without your seatbelt on. Babies were held on laps instead of in car seats, kids would sleep on the panel under the back glass instead of being buckled in, and on most days you’d see someone riding around in the bed of a pickup truck instead of in the cab.

A lot of those sound crazy to most of us today, especially if you’re a parent. We’ve added more and more safety equipment to cars and created laws that protect everyone in the car. But tech and laws haven’t protected animals as much as people. While dog vehicle laws are all over the place in our country, it’s not the law that should concern you the most; it’s the safety of your dog and anyone else in the vehicle. Let’s take a look at why you should always have your dog restrained in some way when you travel with them in your car.

Dogs Are a Distraction

We love our dogs, and that’s why we’re taking them with us to more and more places. In most circumstances, their distracting nature is a good thing. Watching them run around or seek our attention can get our minds off the troubles of the world, which is one reason that people who have dogs tend to live longer and have healthier minds.

But when you’re driving, you certainly shouldn’t interact with your dog any more than you absolutely have to. You should be concentrating as much as possible on driving (and yes, we’ll advise you put away your cell phone for your own sake and that of everyone on the road). Sure, it’s okay to talk to your dog, but getting licked in the face while driving could distract anyone.

The fact is, dogs should be restrained because they can cause accidents when they distract drivers. Drivers are already distracted enough, and adding a dog to the mix can make things much worse. It’s not just the lap dogs that are a problem or those that get in a driver’s face; it’s also those that are causing problems in the back, running around too much and causing a racket because they can move about and get themselves worked up.

Dogs Are Missiles

During sudden stops, anything that’s not restrained in some way becomes a missile that’s flying toward the front of the vehicle. That includes your ice scraper and your laptop and the Christmas decorations you’ve been carrying around in the back of your SUV because you’ve been meaning to take them to the storage unit for the past two months.

Dogs also become dangerous airborne objects when they’re not properly restrained. The average dog weighs between 40 and 60 pounds, which isn’t something you want flying at the back of your headrest at high velocity. An unrestrained dog in a car can be a serious injury hazard to anyone else in the car, whether humans or other canines. Rollovers are, of course, the most dangerous situation that a loose dog and others in the car can find themselves in.

Dogs Will Be Injured

Of course, when a dog is flying through a car during an accident, they will suffer injuries. While the humans in the car are restricted from moving forward thanks to seatbelts and airbags, unrestrained dogs are thrown around and can be seriously hurt or killed. Broken bones and severe internal trauma are the most common injuries that occur, and even relatively minor car wrecks can rupture a dog's lungs when they are forced into the seat in front of them.

Don’t neglect your dog’s car safety. Make sure they are restrained so that they don’t hit anything else in the car during a wreck.

Dogs Can Jump Out

Most of us have ridden past cars with the windows down and a dog face being fanned by the breeze. While at first we smile at the flapping furry face, the next thought we often have is “I really hope they don’t jump out of the window.”

Of course, many of us will let our own dogs do this without a thought. We think to ourselves “our dogs would never jump out, it’s perfectly fine if I put the window down.” Of course, no one can know exactly what goes through the mind of your dog, and there’s always the chance that something they see outside will make them scuttle out. They might ignore every squirrel around, but could it be a rabbit that makes them jump? Could the speed of the car make them want to run so bad that they simply get their legs going and can’t stop? Even if they’ve never given any indication of jumping out, there’s always the chance that it could happen. Dog vehicle safety means keeping them properly restrained at all times and inside the vehicle.

One last thing: if your dog goes out the window, it’s bad for the dog. But when that happens, it’s also more likely to cause accidents behind you, or cause you to have one yourself during your fearful response. Properly restraining a dog means protecting both your pup and those in other vehicles.

Always Keep Your Dog Safe

Much like many of us would never dream of heading anywhere without a seatbelt, in 20 years we’ll probably be appalled at how people of today let their dogs run around in their vehicle. Until then, it’s time for you to take the initiative and keep your dog and everyone in the vehicle as safe as possible. Be at the forefront of pet car safety by restraining your dog properly, a subject we’ll get into more in our next blog.

Of course, dog vehicle safety also means protecting your canine friend when you have to leave them in the vehicle for a bit while you stop by a store or have a quick meal. If you want to keep your dog just as safe when the vehicle is stopped as when it’s moving, check out our dog car temperature monitor — the PuppComm!