Driving with a pet dog? Here's what you need to know

Posted by: Cal on 26/02/2014

Category: General

Most of us would have seen the heart-warming (and amusing) sight of a dog hanging its head out of a wound-down car window, tongue lolling and ears flapping in doggy happiness at the experience of travelling on the Australian roads.

The Australian Companion Animal Council Inc. estimates that 36 per cent of Aussie households own a dog - that's as many as 3.4 million dogs kept as pets in Australia. Many Australians consider their dog a true member of the family, so if you own one, it's likely that your beloved pooch is often an extra back seat passenger.

However, taking your pup for a drive may not be as simple as popping them on the back seat. According to a new study from State Insurance's research centre in Sydney, an unrestrained dog may be at risk of serious injuries if you happen to get into a car crash - even if you're travelling at slow speeds.

In addition, having an unrestrained dog in the car can be a huge driver distraction, which could contribute to your likelihood of having a crash in the first place!

It's not only your dog who could be injured in the event of a crash. If your dog is loose during an accident, it could also injure passengers.

Keeping your pet restrained by a harness, just like a seatbelt, seems a good solution. However, the tests conducted by State Insurance researchers found that out of 25 different dog harnesses tested during simulated crashes and impact, only two restraints actually kept the life-size dog dummy restrained and safe.

The two successful harnesses were the Purina Roadie and Sleepypod Clikit Utility.

If you travel with your dog on a regular basis, it's best to invest in a quality dog harness to ensure they are restrained while the car tyres are rolling. This way, your dog will be unable to cause any distractions that could impair your driving ability.

To really keep you and your pooch safe, it will take a little more than just purchasing a quality restraint. Making sure your car is road worthy with up-to-scratch, quality tyres is also important to ensure all passengers are as safe as possible.

Ensure you check that your tyres aren't too old, and replace them if necessary. Larger dogs (owners of Great Danes, listen up) may need larger 4wd cars, so you'll need to invest in a quality set of 4wd tyres.

A little safety awareness goes a long way in making sure passengers are safe - whether they're furry or human!