Man’s best friends are curious and adventurous creatures. As much as you love them, you like them to experience the world with you. Taking them with you everywhere you go is not a problem, but should they roam free in the car?
Dogs should never be left to roam free in any vehicle. Loose pets in a vehicle can easily distract the driver, and all it takes is a two-second distraction to cause a crash. The best way to have your dog ride in the car is safely secured and restrained.
In this article, I’ve looked at the need for dogs to wear seat belts in a car. I have also discussed the dangers of having your dog roam free in the car. Also, I’ve provided a list of states that require dogs to be restrained in cars and tips to get your pet comfortable in restraints.
Does a Dog Have to Wear a Seatbelt in a Car?
For safety, your dog must wear a seatbelt. In fact, many states require that every occupant of a vehicle wear a seat belt.
The most apparent reason why you would want your dog to wear a seatbelt is that it will be safer if an accident occurs. Additionally, an adequately fitted seatbelt will keep your dog from flying out of the vehicle in case of a collision.
Although seatbelts are considered safe, a crash-tested seat belt for your dog is the best option for you. Crash-tested seats that are designed specifically for use by dogs could provide maximum protection and comfort.
Crash-tested dog seatbelts are available in many different styles. You may choose to buy one made especially for your dog breed, or you could purchase a generic model that fits most dogs. Regardless of style, make sure it is well-fitted on your dog. If there loose straps or buckles, adjust these before using the seatbelt.
Can I Let My Dog Roam Free in the Car?
It is fun for your dog to accompany you everywhere you go. However, it is even better to have them protected on these trips. An unrestrained dog in a vehicle can be a major distraction to the driver, which poses a danger for pedestrians and motorists alike.
A dog that is unrestrained in a car can turn into a high-velocity projectile in an accident. In a car crash at about 35 miles per hour, an unrestrained dog of 50-pound becomes a 2,200-pound projectile. Both the human and the dog could die from the force of that impact.
In addition to being distracted while driving, an unrestrained dog can prevent first responders from accessing their owners in the event of a crash. This does not bode well for the wounded victim who needs urgent care.
What States Require Dogs to Be Restrained in Cars?
Before 2011, only Hawaii had specific laws regarding holding a dog while driving. New Jersey, in 2011, made it a violation of its animal cruelty laws to carry your dog unrestrained in your car. A good number of states have joined the campaign for dog safety in different ways.
New Jersey specifically requires a pet to be in a carrier or wear a seat belt when a vehicle is moving. Failure to comply can cost you about $1,000 in fines. Rhode Island has a similar law, but it makes an exception if the pet is under the physical control of another passenger.
The following states also require that your dog must have a dog-specific restraint (such as a harness that buckles into a pet seat belt) when riding in a vehicle: Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.
Since restraints are a must for your dogs, you should make them feel as comfortable as possible when they are restrained. Let your dog sniff the crate or harness and get used to it long before you have to use them for car rides.
To help your dog stay safe and comfy, follow these steps:
- Make sure that your dog wears a proper size harness or collar with a buckle that holds the leash securely. The leash should fit snugly around your dog’s neck so that he cannot slip out of it.
- Ensure the harness is properly fitted to your dog’s body type. Your dog’s weight will determine how much space he takes up in the backseat.
- Ensure that the harness is adjusted correctly. Loose straps or buckles pose a risk of injury to your dog.
- Check that the leash is secure. It should be fastened tightly enough to keep your dog from slipping out of his harness.
Car Seats for Smaller Dogs Safety
If you are taking your small dog along for the ride, you may feel it’s ok to leave it loose because of its size. However, leaving a small dog loose is just as risky as leaving a bigger dog unrestrained.
If you choose to protect your small-sized dog while driving, there are some things to consider. For example, you may want to choose a car seat that accommodates your dog’s size and shape.
You may need to buy a special kind of car seat for your dog because most regular seats are designed for larger breeds. Also, your dog may prefer sitting in the front seat where he can see what’s going on outside.
When choosing a car seat, look for one that offers both protection and comfort. Some car seats are designed to protect your dog during rough roads and accidents. Others offer extra padding for added comfort.
Your dog’s age also plays a role in choosing a car seat. Puppies tend to be more active than older dogs. As a result, they may jump up and down in the backseat, causing damage to the seat.
Some car seats come with built-in leashes that allow you to tie your dog in place. However, this feature comes at a price. Find a dog car seat that falls within your budget and provides security for your pet.