Dog Training

How to Take your Dog in the Car? Regulations and advice

How to take your dog in the car

If you share your life with a dog, there will be many occasions when you will have to take it with you in the car.

Whether it’s to visit the vet, to spend a pleasant day out in your company going to the mountains or to the beach, or to go on vacation together, the car is essential, but so that you and your faithful furry friend can share your trips, you must comply with crucial rules that guarantee that both he and the other occupants of the vehicle will be as safe as possible.

In this article, I will tell you about the existing regulations for traveling with our pets by car and give you a series of tips with which I hope to help you make your trips together a pleasant experience for the whole family.

1. What the regulations say about how to take the dog by car and how we should interpret it

In reality, the legislation does not specify exactly how we should take our dogs in the car, but it does give us some basic rules that we must comply with.

And that’s it. It is curious to note that law equates animals with objects, but, obviously, carrying a suitcase in the car is not the same as carrying a dog, more than anything because dogs and other animals are living beings and, unlike suitcases, they move. In any case, from this phrase that is included in one of the articles of the traffic and road safety law, the following points are clear to us:

  • The driver must maintain freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving.
  • The animals that travel in the car must travel in such a way that there is no type of interference between them and the driver.

And from all this, it follows that, if we take a dog with us in the car, it must travel in such a way that it cannot distract us or hinder driving, so it must go, either in the back seats, or in the trunk ( never in the passenger seat), and that you must do so in such a way that you cannot move freely around the vehicle.

2. Necessary documentation to travel with your dog in the car

Another thing to keep in mind: if you want to travel in the car with your dog, you must have all your documentation in order, since you may be required to present it at any routine control. This is all you will need:

  • Identification microchip, which is mandatory for all dogs.
  • Health certificate, which must be updated and stamped by a registered veterinarian, detailing all the vaccinations your dog has received.
  • If your dog belongs to one of the breeds classified as potentially dangerous, you must also have civil liability insurance , as well as the corresponding administrative license , issued by the City Council.
  • Finally, if you are going to leave US, and travel between CA, you must also have the corresponding Passport for Domestic Animals , as well as a Certificate of Good Health , which must be issued by a veterinarian one or two weeks before the ride.

3. Places in the car where it is NOT allowed (nor is it convenient) for the dog to travel

When taking the dog in the car there is an area where you should never place it. It is the front seat or passenger seat, and I will explain the reasons for it.

Places in the car where it is NOT allowed

In the first place, we must abide by what the Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles, and Road Safety says and the paragraph that I reproduced in a few lines above, specifically the phrase that says that objects and animals transported by car must have an adequate placement “so that there is no interference between the driver and any of them.“.

But there is another very important reason not to take your dog in the front seat of the car, and that is its own safety, since if your vehicle has a front airbag, in the event of a crash, it could hit you violently and cause serious damage, since it is a means of safety designed for the height and constitution of an adult person.

4. Places in the car where the dog is allowed to travel

The most suitable places for your dog to travel by car are either the rear seat area or the trunk, as long as your car has a suitable one. Obviously, if you have a car with the trunk separated from the passenger compartment, you will be able to put your dog in it, as it would not have adequate ventilation, and in case it is hot, the temperature could rise too high, all of which could be very dangerous.

In any case, whether you carry your dog in the back seats or in the trunk, you must ensure that it travels properly, guaranteeing that both it and the rest of the occupants of the vehicle will be as safe as possible.

If your canine friend is going to travel in the rear seat area, he can do so in a carrier, which must be placed on the floor between the rear and front seats, or, if he does it on the seats, properly secured by means of a dog harness, belt, or safety seat.

If you have a large dog, carrying it in the trunk would also be a good option. In this case, it may be loose or in a suitable carrier, but you should always install a barrier or separator to prevent it from jumping into the passenger compartment area or, in the event of an accident, from being thrown.

5. What is the safest way to travel in the car for the dog?

One of the safest ways to transport a dog in the car is with a good-quality rigid carrier, but you must remember carriers should never be placed in the back seats. Even if you secure them with a seat belt, the tests carried out have It has been shown that the carriers are not strong enough and, in the event of an accident, the belt destroys the fastening points, so the carrier will break and your dog will be thrown, with the consequent danger for him and the other occupants of the car.

If your dog is small and is going to travel in a carrier, you should place it on the floor of the car, in the space between the front and rear seats, and crosswise to the direction of travel. As the carrier has little space, in the event of a collision, the energy of the impact is quickly absorbed and the box hardly deforms, so your furry friend would only suffer minor injuries.

In the event that your dog is medium or large and you want to carry it in a carrier, you will have to place it in the trunk, crosswise to the direction of travel. You should also install a barrier or fence that separates the trunk from the cabin of the car.

Approved carrier to carry the dog in the car:

Karlie Nomad – IATA Approved Carrier

Another way of taking your dog in the car that is very safe—most likely the most safe—is to go in the back seats with a safety harness specially designed for dogs. In this case, it is best to choose one that has been subjected to crash tests, or “crash tests,”  in which the harness has demonstrated its resistance and effectiveness in the event of a collision.

This type of harness is made of resistant and high-quality materials, and its design has taken into account the ergonomics and comfort of its users, that is, the dogs. They normally have a handle through which we must pass the seat belt, or a strap that hooks into the seat belt anchors.

Car harness for dogs that has passed crash-test tests:

EzyDog Drive Safety Travel Dog Car Harness

6. How to carry the dog in the trunk of the car

When you have a large dog, a good option is to carry it in the trunk, but you must do it in such a way that both he and the other passengers in the car travel safely.

The first thing you should do if you opt for this way of traveling is to install a separation and retention system in your car, which prevents the dog from moving into the seating area. In the market, you have a wide range of bars, or separators, ranging from the simplest, consisting of a network, to the most sophisticated, with metal bars that adjust to the space they must cover.

Grid to carry the dog in the trunk of the car:

Once you have installed the separator, you must decide if your dog is going to go loose in the trunk or if, on the contrary, it is going to go inside a carrier or cage. This will depend a bit on the size of your dog and the size of your trunk (although keep in mind that the use of an additional trunk carrier will provide a good plus of security for your furry).

In any case, today we can find cages and carriers of all sizes, and even carriers specially designed to be carried in a trunk with inclined front and rear walls, to adapt to the shape of the trunk door and the rear seats.

The combination of a suitable carrier and a barrier or partition is, in all probability, the safest way in which your dog can travel in the trunk, but if you prefer to carry it loose, it will be great to install a good protective car cover for your dog too. dogs, to prevent everything from ending up full of hair, mud, drool, and other things. Dogs are, without a doubt, wonderful beings, but it cannot be said that they are especially careful with the upholstery of our long-suffering cars.

7. How to take the dog in the back seat of the car

As we saw above, if you have a small dog and you want it to travel in the rear seat area, one of the safest ways to do so is to put it in a rigid carrier that must be placed on the floor, behind the front seats. , and crosswise to the direction of travel, never on the seats, fastened with the seat belt.

However, if your dog is medium or large, this is not possible. In fact, even if it is a small dog, it can be very overwhelming for him to travel in a carrier placed in such a small space since he will not have the possibility to see you or to take a look at the panorama.

In these cases, the best option is to take the dog on the back seats of the car, but then it must be attached to the seat belt in some way, just like we humans do. For this, we must use a harness, a belt, or a safety seat specially designed for dogs.

As I told you above, the ideal way for your dog to travel in the back seat is to wear a safety harness that has been subjected to crash tests, which will guarantee that, in the event of an accident, your furry friend will be as protected as you are with the seat belt.

The only drawback of these harnesses is that, as they are made of highly resistant and quality materials, their price is usually high, although if you usually travel a lot with your dog by car and, especially, if you make long trips with him, the investment will be worth it.

Harnesses usually include a safety strap, but you can buy another one since they are also sold separately. These are straps that have a carabiner at one end that hooks onto the dog’s harness and, at the other, a tab that inserts into the seat belt anchorage.

If you have a small dog, you can also use a dog car seat. It is a kind of basket or bed in which your furry friend will be placed and which is installed in one of the rear seats, surrounding the headrest and the back of the seat with adjustable straps. Some of them, which are the safest, are fastened with the seat belt itself.

Dogs will love traveling in one of these seats, especially if it is an elevated one, which will allow them to see through the window. However, and we have to insist again, keep in mind that these devices allow you to comply with the regulations and that they will provide certain security to your dog, but, in the event of an accident, they are far from the performance provided by the certified harnesses that have passed crash tests.

If you do not use a specific seat for your dog, I recommend that, in addition to using a safety harness, you install a cover to protect the rear seats. Without a doubt, the upholstery of your car will appreciate it, since otherwise it could end up quite deteriorated.

You can opt for a bench-type cover, which completely covers the rear seats, backrests included, or also for a hammock-type cover, which is attached to the headrests of the rear and front seats, forming a kind of cube, so that you will also protect the floor of the car and the backs of the front seats. If your dog is small and does not occupy more than one seat, you can also choose a cover for an individual seat.

Finally, if you have a large dog, it is possible that, even if you put a safety harness on it, it will manage to get its head or legs through the gap between the two front seats, something that can be dangerous since it will distract you. In this case, unless you have installed a hammock-type cover, it may come in handy to get a barrier or net, which you should install just behind the front seats.

8. Some practical tips for traveling by car with your dog

  • If you’ve just adopted a dog, whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog, you’ll need to gradually get him used to traveling by car because it’s likely to be scary or stressful at first. Start by taking a short trip and going to a fun and pleasant place for him: go to the park, take a short trip to the beach, or go to the countryside, for example. In this way, your furry friend will soon associate the car with something good, and, thus, as soon as he sees it, he will be eager to get in.
  • If you are going to travel in a carrier, it is best to make it available at home before using it in the car. Allow your dog to become familiar with his new carrier, and try to make him see it as something positive. That way, when you install it in the car, he will see it as his place naturally.
  • Make sure your dog does not eat in the three hours before the trip, as it could get dizzy and vomit. If he still gets seasick on a regular basis, you can ask your vet to recommend an antiemetic to prevent vomiting.
  • Before leaving on a trip, take your dog for a walk. In this way, in addition to being able to pee and poop, it will also be more relaxed when it comes to getting into the car.
  • If you go on vacation with your dog, have the car ready when he gets in; that is, don’t put him in first and then start loading the luggage and so on, as he would probably get stressed.
  • If you’re going on a long trip, make stops every two hours or so so your dog can get out of the car and air out, stretch his legs, drink water, or relieve himself. This is something, actually, that is also applicable to humans: it is very important to respect breaks when you are on the road.
  • When getting out of the car, be very careful when opening the door; try to put the leash on him before, so that he does not run out of the car, with the consequent danger.
  • And, of course, never leave your dog alone in a stationary car, especially in the summer, since it can suffer from heat stroke, something really dangerous.

I hope I have helped you solve all the doubts you may have about how to take your dog in the car.

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