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The law on restraining your dog and the best ways to do so!

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

It wouldn't be the same without them (try still saying that when you've got muddy paw prints everywhere)! But while we strap on our seat belts what options does your canine have?

However if you are caught by the police travelling with an unsecured dog in your car or camper, or if it causes you to have an accident, you could be liable for a host of punishments under the banner of ‘Driving without Due Care and Attention’. To add insult to injury it might also make your car insurance null and void, so if you do have an accident, you wouldn’t be able to make a claim. A sobering thought isn’t it?

Rule 57 of The Highway Code ie: The Law

Rule 57 of The Highway Code on the transportation of dogs in cars says,

‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’

There is no actual penalty for breaking Rule 57, but once broken, you can be prosecuted for ‘Driving without due care and attention’, which could mean losing your license, a maximum £2,500 fine and nine penalty points.

Invalid Insurance

Regarding the loss of insurance, a spokesman for insurance comparison site previously quoted in an article in the Daily Mirror says,

‘The law is clear – you must secure your animal while in a car – therefore if you don’t do this and an animal roaming freely around the vehicle is said to have contributed to causing an accident, then an insurance company could be well within their rights not to pay out on a claim.’

Add to this any claims by another injured party and vets bills and you are going be looking at an eye wateringly large amount of money that you are going to have to find to settle these bills.

Airbags, laps and flying dogs

In case the points listed above aren’t enough haven’t convinced you to restrain your dog in the car next time you go out, consider these facts:

  1. When a dog is loose in a car and you are involved in an accident, the dog can very quickly become airborne and effectively a missile flying through your car, injuring people as it goes. These figures from American company Puppy Traffic School, makes for eye opening reading.

    1. A 4.5kg dog (eg a Bichon Frise) will exert 226.7 kg of force in a crash a 30mph

    2. A 36.2kg dog (eg a female Rottweiler) will exert 1088.6kg of force in a crash of 30mph.

  2. In a crash, a dog restrained in the front seat may well suffer serious injury, or worse, if the airbag is deployed. If you must seat them here (not advised), make sure you disengage the airbag first.

  3. A dog being carried either on the driver’s or the passenger’s lap may suffer the same fate as points 1 and 2 above. In a collision it would be virtually impossible to hold onto the dog at the point of impact, meaning the animal could become airborne and end up travelling through the car and possibly the front window at speed. This is usually fatal for the dog. If someone does manage to hold onto the dog, it will be even closer to the air bag and will feel the full force of its deployment.

Securing your dog

The cheapest option is the dog equivalent to a normal seat belt! Usually less than £5 this simple device clips on to your dogs collar/harness and plugs straight in to the seat belt lock. Easily available in pet shops and online.

A pet carrier is a cosier alternative. The carrier is secured to the vehicle by the seat belt and the dog is secured to the carrier via their harness/collar, very similar to the theory of a baby seat. These are on sale for approx £20, get yours here.

For the bigger dogs a built in under bed crate is a great idea. Padded full of blankets your pet can have a comfy snooze while you travel. We would always suggest using a crate with 2 entries/exits in case of emergency.

Now you and your pal are ready to hit the road...where are you stopping for the night?

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