My Big “ Pet” Peeve – Why your dog should not be on your lap when driving

Heide's Pet Care riding in the car

Training your dog to ride in the carDo pet owners think they are really doing a major service or favor to their dog by allowing them to sit in their lap while driving a car?

Distracted driving caused by pets on your lap

Illinois is trying to ban dogs sitting your lap while driving.  New Jersey and Hawaii already have a law banning this.   The AAA 2011 survey states 23% of pet owners used their arms to restrain their dog/s while applying the brakes.  Another 19% have their hands off wheel to prevent pets from climbing out of the car while driving, and 17% admitted they allow their dogs in their lap while driving.

What can happen to your pet in an accident?

When an air bag deploys the pet will be smashed between your shirt (bloody) and the bag.  Really, how safe is this?  I don’t think your pet will love you after this, ya think?

Keep in mind, that if your pet is injured or frightened in a vehicle accident, the chances are good they may try or will bite someone who will want to help.  Your loyal dog may stand in the way of emergency workers trying to save or care for you after the accident. Your liability increases and your poor pet’s life could be in jeopardy. This is another good reason for restraint. In addition, a loose dog becomes a flying missile during a sudden stop or crash.

If the windows break or the door is opened during a crash, your pet may run away out of fright. If they don’t get hit by another car, your dog may run away. As I reviewed the Humane Society Facebook posts, several of the lost dog postings resulted from a pet running away from the scene of an accident.  Many people struggle for weeks or months to get their pet back after an accident.

What are the options for pet restraint?

Like seat belts for humans, pets need a form of restraint when you are driving. One option is a crate. You need a crate with enough space for your pet to move around and the crate needs to be secured to make sure that in case of accident it is not another flying object.

If a crate is not a viable option, explore the dog car harnesses. A quick Google search listed these options (follow the link) and most of these are between $11 and $26, a small price to pay to make sure your pet is safe.

In addition to the options above, plan to start some dog training exercises to help your dog become accustomed to riding in the car. You will need a driver and another person to interact with your pet in the car. By choosing a safe, low traffic location, you can help your pet feel safer in the car.

Remember that all of the advice above still means that you should use common sense when taking your dog with you. Even if you have a perfectly behaved dog in the car, you should leave him home if he or she would have to wait for you in a hot car or spend the day in the car when you are off having fun at an event.

Need some help with your dog training or pet care, call me, Heide Maxwell, at 715-571-1252!

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