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How to commute safely on Bring Your Dog to Work Day

22 June 2022

22 June 2022 UK

As the nation’s dog owners prepare to celebrate Bring Your Dog To Work Day this Friday 24th June, pet-loving drivers need to ensure they’re not unwittingly breaking the law on the commute with their canine companion - and putting themselves at risk of a hefty fine.

In advance of the annual nationwide fundraising event - and following recent changes to Rule 57 of the Highway Code – Rob Steele from global pet company, PetSafe® Brand shares how to select the best travel system for you and your four-legged friend in light of the new rules. These state that all dogs must now be “suitably restrained” so they don’t distract on drives, or injure us, or themselves if the brakes are applied quickly. Not complying can result in on the spot fines of up to £1,000, a maximum fine of £5,000, nine points on the license and even a driving ban and compulsory retest.

Rob Steele said: “Choosing a pet travel restraint is not just about reducing distraction while driving. Most owners don’t realise it’s also about keeping pets protected and safe within the car, especially in case of sudden braking. There are a huge number of different dog restraint options to choose from, from guards to seats and tethers.”

1. Dog guards

For most people, a dog guard partition or barrier between the back seat and boot of the car is a great way to ensure that dogs don’t enter the passenger area. They’re ideal for larger breeds that can’t be safely restrained on or in a seat, as well as more nervous dogs – giving them a secure space to relax and lie down.

The PetSafe® Cargo Area Net Barrier, RRP £17.99 has a patented design with a claw-proof micro-mesh material that is much easier to see through than metal tube-styles. The netting is attached to a pop-up wire frame which keeps it from sagging and makes it easy to fix and remove. Additionally, its adjustable suspension system allows the barrier to fit all vehicles with headrests. A Front Seat Barrier, RRP £17.99 is also available, which enables dogs to safely travel in the back seat by blocking the gap between the two front seats and console.

2. Dog safety seats

Dog safety seats keep dogs contained in one place whilst driving – considerably reducing driver distractions and are ideal for smaller pups.

When selecting a model, make sure it connects securely to the vehicle’s seat belt and, as is the case with the PetSafe® Happy Ride® Dog Safety Seat, RRP £72.99 that its tether also attaches your dog’s harness to the seat belt. The seat can be used in the front or back seat of any vehicle. Booster seats like the Happy Ride® Quilted Booster Seat, RRP £45.99 are ideal for the smallest of breeds, but remember, if your safety seat is affixed in the front, the passenger airbag should be turned off.

3. Tethers, harnesses and seatbelts

Seatbelt restraints are inexpensive to buy and simple to use, which is why they’re one of the most popular restraining methods – especially for those who drive hatchbacks and saloon cars.

The most versatile and straightforward is a safety tether like the Vehicle Safety Tether, RRP £5.99 from PetSafe®. Other similar options include ziplines like the PupZip Zipline, RRP £10.99 which fit all pets and vehicles and can be used in the back seat or boot. This system is particularly popular for larger breeds, and its elasticated and adjustable leash-based design allows the dog to sit and lie down on the back seat without too much hindrance, whilst protecting the pooch in the event of heavy breaking or bumps.

They’re all quick to install and can also be paired with a safety harness for even greater protection and comfort. The PetSafe® Deluxe Vehicle Safety Harness, RRP £15.99 integrates with a car’s seat belt system to enable some movement whilst traveling but locks down during sudden stops. Make sure it fits securely around your dog’s body.

The better it fits your dog, the less likely it is to come loose. So, always ensure all clasps and clips are robust and secure. And whilst they work for most dogs, seat belts might not be the best option for tiny dogs. For those with toy breeds, we recommend that a safety or booster seat is the best way to travel in the car.

Rob Steele continued: “We’ll certainly be celebrating Bring your Dog to Work Day at PetSafe® Brand but we also want to use the opportunity to highlight the importance of safe car travel with our pets. One study shows that drivers with unrestrained dogs in their cars are twice as likely to be distracted by their canine companions and that motorists on car journeys with dogs that weren’t secured in some way had heart rates up to 34 beats per minute faster than drivers who had decided to restrain their pets. We want as many people and workplaces as possible to celebrate and join in with this year’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day, whilst raising awareness of how we can all travel safely, legally and enjoyably in the car with our canine companions.”