Seat belts are not usually required for a dog to ride in a car in most areas. However, you do need to check, as some areas do have regulations. Even if it’s not mandatory where you live, there are good reasons for your dog to wear a seat belt while traveling in your car, and it’s a responsible choice for a human companion to make for their loved dog.
In case of a sudden stop or accident, your dog will not be thrown off the seat into another passenger, the driver or against an object such as the window or seat. Dogs do not have the same gripping ability to stay in the seat as a human does. Being restrained by a seat belt designed specifically for a dog will protect them as well as you.
Some dogs love riding in a car or truck, but some don’t do well in moving vehicles. The instant you stop the car to get out, your dog may try to follow you, even in places that are not appropriate such as a gas station. If your dog is likely to run around or does not listen well to your “stay” or “come” commands, they could get hit by another car or even refuse to get back in the car.
In the case of an accident where you are injured, you may not be able to control your frightened or angry dog. A seat belt keeps them restrained to enable emergency personnel to help them.
If your dog is likely to be moving around a great deal while you are traveling, and getting into things they shouldn’t be, or excitedly climbing all over the car unable to sit still, they may be uncontrollable while you are driving. A seat belt will help your dog understand that good behavior is required in a car. If they are hesitant or vocal about being restrained, bring along a good chew toy and some CANIDAE Pure Heaven treats to reward them for adapting to the seat belt. You want it to be a positive association for them, not a punishment.
A crate is one option for car travel with your dog, but that could be very uncomfortable on a really long car trip. A seat belt designed for dogs allows him to see what is going on and enjoy the travel experience, and still allows for limited movement so he can shift position and be comfortable while you are driving.
While you are driving, you need to be able to focus on the task at hand, not on an excitable dog or one who wants to have your attention at an inopportune moment. A wiggling, climbing dog is very distracting for a driver, and dangerous. One little distraction at the wrong time can cause an accident. Even if the dog is normally well behaved and sits still, in the blink of an eye that can change. Dogs do not understand that their attention seeking actions are dangerous in a moving car.
Keeping your dog restrained while you drive is a responsible thing to do; it benefits you, your loved pet and drivers of other vehicles around you. It is not cruel, it is a loving and kind choice. You do everything you can to keep your dog healthy and safe. Consider their welfare when traveling in a car with them, and use a dog seat belt.
Top photo by David Poe
Middle photo by Living in Monrovia
Bottom photo by Tony Fischer
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch