My husband and I are taking our dog on a long journey from London to Cornwall for our late summer holiday and I’m a little worried about taking our Labradoodle in the car in case she accidentally escapes on one of our stops.
Nik Oakley advises…
You are right to be thinking about the dangers of transporting your dog in the car. DogLost’s pages are littered with stories of dogs who have escaped on journeys – either as a result of an accident or running off during a stop at a service station. Unfortunately, they don’t all have happy endings and some simple precautions can reduce the risk.
Although you can buy dog seat belts that attach to a harness or lead and click into a seat belt socket, I wouldn’t recommend them for anything other than a trip to the local shops, as they offer no protection at all if doors are smashed or the car rolls. Your dog really needs protection in case of an accident – not only to protect against the impact, but to prevent her escaping the scene and being killed on the road.
DogLost’s Buckinghamshire co-ordinator, Sandie Robertson, travels thousands of miles a year with her Old English Sheepdogs. She swears by her steel-coated Barnesbrook cage. It’s very sturdy and has escape hatches in case of a rear-end shunt, and they come in models suitable for all vehicles. Other people opt for Barjo, who produce similar cages. If you use an ordinary cage, it won’t provide much protection on impact, but either way it’s important that the cage fits snugly in the back of the car or is anchored down. Finally, make sure the catches are engaged properly so that the doors aren’t flung open on impact.
There are a few other considerations for your journey. Firstly, check with your vehicle recovery company that they will collect your dog as well as you should you break down en route. Secondly, when stopping off at services, make sure you are holding on to your dog’s lead before letting her out of the vehicle. A stressful ride may cause her to bolt. (If she’s a nervous dog, you might want to try some Adaptil or valerian.) Make sure you have her microchip details with you and you could also consider a tag with the holiday address on.