Do you own a dog who loves car rides? Unlike cats or goldfish, dogs generally enjoy hitting the road with their human companions, but if you’re not prepared driving with your pet can turn in to quite an ordeal.
We’re all guilty of letting the puppy roam free in your car, but in the case of an accident or sudden braking, your slobbering best friend can turn into a missile and end up flying out the car, through the windscreen or hitting and injuring another passenger.
As Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world according to the Australian Companion Animal Council, and it’s important everyone travelling with pets know the regulations.
It’s not uncommon to see pets unrestrained in cars, sitting on drivers’ laps or hanging their head out an open window, but these situations can end in disaster or serious injury.
Each state in Australia has its own set of rules and regulations so be sure to look up any laws of states you’re travelling through.
As a general rule, pets should be kept away from the driver to avoid distraction, and appropriately restrained to prevent it leaving the vehicle.
Rules and regulations
The following rules are a general guide to keep your pet, passengers and yourself safe when taking to the road.
- Drivers cannot drive with pets on their lap.
- Pets should be kept in an appropriate area of the vehicle: the rear seat of a passenger car, behind a cargo barrier in a wagon or SUV, or tethered or caged if on the back of a ute.
- Dogs cannot be kept in the boot of a sedan-like car.
- Pets must not be put under unreasonable or unnecessary stress or suffering.
Failure to follow appropriate laws can result in loss of demerit points and a hefty fine. The penalties differ between states.
Accessories to keep everyone safe
If you are concerned and want to ensure your dog and passengers are kept in optimum safety, there are various accessories you can buy.
While it’s not illegal in all states to leave your dog unrestrained, doggie harnesses really come down to common sense. Not only will this stop your pup from causing a distraction, it’ll also prevent it from become airborne under sudden braking or jumping out the window and injuring itself or causing major traffic incidents.
Harnesses work by securing your dog via a seatbelt attachment, and should always be used in the rear seats. Some car makers even supply specially designed harnesses for the car like this one from Skoda.
Hammock seat covers and front seat barriers are also an option to restrict the furry-friend’s access to the front.
If you prefer to keep your pup in the cargo area of your wagon or SUV, and prefer to not keep them locked up in a travelling crate or container, then consider a cargo barrier.
Other things to consider
Of course, it should be a given that any time you travel with pets, you do what you can to ensure their road trip is as comfortable and carefree as possible.
This means have water and food on hand, and discussing options with your vet to prevent or deal with doggie motion sickness.
And if you’re stopping somewhere for more than a few minutes, it’s also important to not leave your dog in the car on hot or freezing days.
And whatever you do, don’t let your dog drive