Car Safety: Driving with Pets
On occasion we need to transport our little fluff puffs, and choosing the right car or accessories, can make it so much easier and safer. For owners of the non-fluffy variety of pets: snakes, lizards, birds, or for those crazy spider enthusiasts – this post may not be so helpful, you should get advice from your vet.
Our pets can often feel like our furry children, and we want to make sure they are safe and comfortable in our car. We thought we would dedicate some time to going through the awesome accessories you can have in your car, as well as some car recommendations if you are thinking about making a change and want a car that suits your furry family’s needs. Plus, we have included a free to use online service where you can find dog friendly parks – link is located towards the bottom of the post.
If safety isn’t an important enough reason, unsafely transporting your fluffy babies can get you hit with some hefty penalties. The RMS can smack you with up to 3 demerit points and a $425 fine if an animal is stopping the driver from being in full control of the vehicle, or it’s in their lap whilst driving. The RSPCA can use the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to fine drivers $5,500 if an animal was injured from being untethered.
Let’s start with accessories! There is some overlap between accessories between cats and dogs, it really comes down to the size of your pet and what you feel comfortable with. Mainly what your pet also feels comfortable with.
Harnesses: If your pet is too big for a carrier, or doesn’t like one, the most important step you can take is using a harness. It keeps you and your pet safe, and saves lives. Harnesses can be used for both cats and dogs, though the former may be a bit more temperamental about the setup. As with lead training, it’s important to spend some time harness training your pets and getting them used to wearing the harness over increasing periods of time. Harnesses are quite cost effective options, a good harness with a chest plate for added safety will only set you back about $50.
Car Hammocks: Great for medium to large dogs. These can increase the comfort of your pet, but mainly you’ll see the benefit of protecting your car from the dirt your puppers will drag in. Many a dog owner has seen a white fluffy dog, galloping forward majestically, only to jump and roll in the slimiest mud puddle it can find. Maybe you have missed such a sight, but from personal experience, it’s hilarious, and usually proceeded with a cry of dismay. ‘Nooooooo!’ Well, that mud covered dog has to get home somehow, and a quick hose off at the park is not going to undo their vagarious rolling in the mud. That’s where the hammock can help protect you from your dogs poor life choices. You knew what you were signing up for when you bought a dog, it’s not like they are renowned for their impeccable cleanliness. Make sure to couple a car hammock with a harness. You still need to secure your pet as you protect your seats.
Cage: For utes this may be a better option than a harness alone. The requirements for tethering your animal in at ute, is that
the harness is secured to a central point in the ute tray, so the dog is unable to lean over the side. If a point isn’t available to secure the dog to the centre, or there are other objects in the tray that can move around, the cage can be a great option. Cages need to be secured into the vehicle. Size requirements for a cage are that the dog should be able to comfortably sit, stand and turn around.
Carriers: Usually used for cats, but these can also be suitable for very small dogs if you have trouble finding a harness that suits. Harnesses should be a first choice for safety, but carriers are also a good option. A carrier should be large enough that the pet inside can sit, stand, stretch and turn around. It’s recommended if you’re using a hard carrier to make the inside as soft and comfortable as possible, with soft towels and blankets that smell like home and make the pet feel safe. Changes are regardless of your efforts, if you’re transporting a cat they will not be impressed by the arrangement, and will let you know, the entire time, vocally. Don’t be conned by their persistent cries, taking them out of the carrier will not benefit your situation. It will likely have you badly scratched as the cat tries to clamber for an exit. Don’t risk it. Just enjoy the background vocals and get back to carrier training when you are back at home.
Handy tip – DON’T PLAY LOUD MUSIC! We wish we didn’t have to take the time to include this… but we do. Part of keeping your pet safe and comfortable is not damaging their ears because you’re enjoying some good beats on the sound system. With your pets very sensitive hearing, you need to be responsible with the volume of your speakers in your car. If you can hear a normal conversation with a passenger clearly, then the music is at the right level, and be aware of where speakers are positioned in your vehicle.
Great Cars for Pet Owners
What are some good affordable cars for pet owners? I’m glad you asked.
Cat and Small Dog Owners
The smaller the pet, the easier to transport – so cat and small dog owners can enjoy the ability to own a small zippy hatch. It’s easy to park, fuel efficient, leaves extra storage space in the garage, and it’s less hassle to get around inner city roads. There is still room for a pet hammock in the back if you require one, but, its great small hatch that can easily fit a pet carrier or two in the back, or a few small pets on a harness.
Small and Medium Sized Doggos
The Hyundai i30N is 40cm bigger, and that little extra space makes it that little bit more comfortable to transport a small to medium sized dog or two. Maybe even a pet wallaby if you live in Victoria, South Australia or the Northern Territory – yes, it’s legal in those states. Compared to a two door hatch, it’s easier to install a pet hammock to protect your seats, yet it’s still a small size for easy urban driving. The slight bit more roof clearance will make it that little bit easier to get medium dogs in and out of the car, especially when they are in zoomie mode after realising they are going out of the house for an adventure. We all know the look – the wild eyed excitement, eyes almost bulging out of their skull, every part of their body twitching like they were being zapped with electricity.
Medium to Large-ish Doggos
We’ve jumped up to a small SUV, which is perfect for medium and large-ish dogs, think Labrador sized. If you want to fit your Great Dane into car, this may not be the right size for them. The benefits of jumping up to a car this size is larger dogs can be easily loaded through the back with the seats pushed down, with plenty of head clearance. But there is also plenty of space for the dog to jump up through the rear-side passenger door without skittering everywhere. Anyone that has owned a Dalmatian knows what we are talking about, those dogs are not renowned for being intelligent or elegant, if there is something to trip on, they will find it. Love you Edward, but by far you were the dumbest dog I have ever owned.
Large Ungainly Doggos … or for pets that require lots of toys and pampering
Now we have a car size fit for your Great Danes, English Mastiff,s St Bernards, and the list goes on. This is the perfect size for any pet, it’s not like a small dog is going to complain there is too much space; but, for owners with dogs that have reached the size where they are often referred to as a ‘giant breed’, rather than just ‘large’, a seven-seater SUV is what you should be looking at. Yes, they could potentially fit in a five-seater, but could you comfortably get them in and out? Unlikely. Also, a lot of dogs drool, and in a five-seater it’s just too easy for those extra large dogs to lean forward and leave a gooey slime trail down your shoulder. No matter how much you love them, it’s not that much.
For much loved pets, a seven seater SUV affords additional room to bring all of their toys and accessories – pet beds, the bucket of ripped and slobbered pet toys, inflatable pool toys, pool noodles… some people like to go overboard. We are not judging. If you’re a hoarder that likes the extra space, you may find a large SUV is the car for you regardless of your pets requirements.
Looking for dog friendly parks? In the course of researching this article we came across this helpful website for dog owners to search for dog friendly parks and beaches in their area. http://doggo.com.au/
If you have somehow missed this viral YouTube clip, it seems a perfect way to end this article. It’s hilarious and worth watching several times.