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I am going to collect my new Cockapoo puppy soon and was wondering about travelling with him in the car. My friend said that he needs to be restrained or else my car insurance will be invalidated. Is this right? Do they make harnesses small enough for an eight-week-old puppy? Will he mind being in a harness at that young age?

Alison Logan advises…

It is stated in the Highway Code that dogs should be suitably restrained when travelling in a car. This is to prevent them from distracting the driver, and avoiding them hurting themselves – or causing injury to the driver or a passenger – should the car stop suddenly. Although the Highway Code is not the law, breaching it can mean that an offence has been committed. Furthermore, as your friend said, your car insurance could then be invalidated.

A suitable means of restraint, however, doesn’t just mean a seatbelt harness. A pet carrier or dog cage would certainly be more suitable for a puppy, and it would be good training if he became used to travelling like this from the start. As he grows, then a dog harness can be introduced. At a later stage, another option might be to put him in the boot of the car, with a dog guard to confine him there.

A particular concern of mine is seeing dogs hanging their heads out of car windows. Even if restrained, this not only poses a danger to the dog himself – particularly from flying debris and small particles of grit that can damage the eyes – but it is also distracting to other drivers.

Once your puppy has graduated from a carrier to a harness or the boot of the car, you need to start teaching him to wait in the car when you arrive at your destination. Jumping out in an uncontrolled manner as soon as you open the door carries the risk of him being knocked down by a passing vehicle, for example, or causing a nuisance to other people nearby. A puppy has so much to learn in order to become a happy and safe member of the family. It’s never too soon to start.

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