This sure looks fun, right? Having your dog enjoy the breeze while you drive with your windows open, or in your convertible. Fun, yes, but safe, no. The AAA has surveyed that 56% of people drive with their dog in the car at least once a month. Over half of them also admit to shifting attention away from the road to pet their dogs during those trips. And nearly a quarter of those say that they’ve used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place while coming to a stop. What’s worse, 19% said they have used their hands or arms to prevent their dog from climbing into the front seat. That move takes one or both hands, which would be better served on the steering wheel. As you know, dogs don’t typically wait for a long red light to demand your attention. In fact, they invariably seem to choose the most inopportune times to distract drivers.
Here are some more stats on the most perilous behaviors reported:
18% have reached into the back seat
17% allowed the dog to sit in their laps
13% fed them food or treats while driving
3% at least admitted to taking selfies with their dog, all while driving.
I don’t need to spell out the obvious risks of this out to you. As we read this, logic tells us it is a bad idea. I have blogged about the various pet restraint options that are available, and the benefits thereof. Yet, only 16% of dog owners surveyed said they regularly use a pet restraint. And, 42% of those polled said that they eschew them because their pets are sufficiently calm and don’t otherwise require a restraint.
However, even a peacefully sleeping pet in the back seat can become a dangerous projectile in an emergency stopping situation. You don’t have to be well versed in physics to envision this situation, putting both you and the dog at major risk for injury. The AAA has, again, done the math for us though. An unrestrained 10 lb dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 lbs of pressure. An unrestrained 80 lb dog in a crash at 30 mph will exert 2,400 lbs of pressure.
I love dogs more than anyone. I admit to having driven with my dog unrestrained for very short trips down to the bus stop, etc. Dogs are cute, cuddly, and fun, and good listeners on a long road trip. They don’t care that you are belting out Bohemian Rhapsody at an embarrassing volume, that your teenagers would never, ever permit if they were in the car. But, they can also be a great travel companion while being restrained, safely. I ask you this. Would you ever consider driving around with an equally adorable toddler or newborn on your lap? Of course not. So why do so many of us do just that with our beloved 4 legged children? It simply doesn’t make sense.
This is my dog India, not cooperating for a picture of her in her car harness. She falls asleep out of boredom soon after we get on the highway. Your dog will as well, I can assure you. Check out my previous blog, on this site, for quality dog restraint options. If you can train your dog to sit for a treat, you can get them accustomed to a seat belt.