A small dog would be hurled from the parcel shelf at the head of someone sitting in the front like a cannonball. And a larger dog would move through the car with the force of a baby elephant. In both cases, not only would other passengers be likely to be very badly hurt, but the dog would probably sustain severe injuries which it would be unlikely to recover from.
Some dogs jump around the car, others sit on the parcel shelf and others stick their head out of the window. Even the most calm dogs can easily see something that will spook them, and of course in an emergency stop your dog would be powerless to stop itself traveling forwards. You must get your dog used to traveling in the car at a young age so that its sits placidly.
Using a harness in the car is not unkind, and most dogs will actually feel more secure being restrained from constant motion. A dog guard installed across the top of the back passenger seat is a good way to keep the dog in one place without restraint, but better still is a travel kennel rather like a cat cage. If your dog was crate-trained as a puppy, this is ideal to use.
It is safer for everyone if you are involved in an accident that your dog be confined. Imagine a scenario where your dog was free to roam while you were possibly injured. A loose dog could run straight into the traffic and be killed or indeed cause another accident. Also a large breed could potentially hinder rescue attempts for other passengers by being aggressive and protective of you.
Golden Rules of Mounting and Exiting a Car
- Your dog should always enter the car from the pavement side
- Keep your dog on a lead until he is inside the car and has supervision
- Discourage your dog from jumping out of the car as soon as you are home – he may do this in a busy area
- Make it obvious to other drivers that your dog is under control when entering/ exiting your car.
Using a crate that your dog is used to will help your dog feel secure. If you have to use the passenger seat, you can buy harnesses to fit your dog. Always make sure crates and carriers are placed somewhere they will not move around. If you are traveling for more than two hours, your dog should have been exercised before the journey. You should also make frequent stops to allow it to relieve itself and for a drink of fresh water.
Never leave your dog in the car when it is hot. The temperature inside the car can reach unbearable temperatures and it is by no means uncommon for dogs to die of heat exhaustion when left like this. Leaving windows open makes no difference – to be effective this would mean opening them so wide that your dog could escape anyway. Likewise, sun shades are simply not effective enough to prevent intolerable heat build-up.