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Buckle Up for Safety: The Dangers of Loose Dogs in the Car

Updated: Jun 22, 2019

DogID's blog features some tips from our ED, jme, on car travel safety tips.

Secure Your Dog With Just a Leash

As much as you hope to always be prepared, sometimes you simply aren’t. Maybe you haven’t had a chance to pick up your restraints yet, or they broke, got lost, are sitting inside waiting to get washed, or you unexpectedly have to use another car without proper restraints on hand.

Whatever the reason, Jme Thomas, executive director at the Motley Zoo Animal Rescue out of Washington state, offers these tips for keeping dogs secure when you have nothing but the leash.

-Tie a knot in the leash about 3/4 of the way to the loop.

-Put the dog in the car, ensuring there’s enough slack for him to stand up and lay down

-Hold onto the knot outside the door

-Close the door with the knot just on the outside (catching the crack) so when the dog pulls to jump around, the knot hits the door frame and stops them

-If the loop is too long, you can open the window and throw the rest of the leash back in, or try and catch the rest of the leash in the door as it shuts also (so there’s just a loop of fabric sticking out of the door)

However, she says “In an accident, this would not be ideal. With enough slack for the dog to stand up and lay down, it’s hardly different than a loose dog flailing around the car either… but is much safer than the dog distracting and endangering the driver and other traffic.”

And if you need even further reason to use a crate, Thomas says, "that emergency responders are not allowed to get dogs to the vet in an accident if they’re not in crates. However, if they are, and if the crate survives the crash, they can shuttle them to the vet.

It’s also important to note that car safety tips apply to cats as well.

Your feline friends should also never be loose inside the car, especially since their often smaller bodies can wiggle down into dangerous places like behind your pedals.

Keep cats in their carriers at all times, and strap them in as well. I pull the seat belt through the handle on top and buckle it in like a child’s car seat".


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