Most dog owners know that there are some road laws that regulate how their pet can travel in or on a vehicle, but are they doing it right and is it safe?

The rules differ all over the country and Queensland lacks in full legislation for having a dog inside the vehicle. There are however strict rules for dogs on utes and in trailers. Despite the lack of laws, there are still penalties and other charges that can be laid, plus the dog’s safety is key.

When travelling with an animal inside a vehicle it is an offence to drive with an animal in your lap or to drive when you don’t have proper control of your vehicle. Queensland Transport recommend animals travelling inside your vehicle be restrained in some way for the safety and welfare of the animal and the occupants of the vehicle. The road rules do not specifically require an animal to be restrained while travelling inside a vehicle.

Although there is no specific law that requires a dog be restrained, as animals should be treated as any other family member, a special pet harness that can be attached to your vehicle’s seatbelt is highly recommended. Smaller pets can also be transported in pet carriers.

Pet Carrier

Pets can be put in the back of a station wagon with a cargo barrier that complies with Australian standards.

If a dog is carried in the tray of a ute or in a trailer the dog is than classed as a load and must be safely restrained. Thousands of dogs are injured each year while travelling in the back of utes because they are not properly restrained. The dogs may be struck by tree branches or cars, be dragged along the side of vehicles or jump from moving vehicles.

It may seem like most of those regulations are about protecting humans — and they are — but they were also written to keep pets safe as well. Laws can’t cover everything though, so if you really want to keep your dog safe, your best bet is to follow the below tips.

Use Crash-Tested Crates

Crates are the best option to ensure your dog’s safety when traveling, especially in your car. Make sure to select the right size crate for your dog. It’s also critical to choose safety-certified, crash-tested crates.

Plastic reinforced with fiberglass is preferable because these are more durable materials. Design is also important. Make sure your selected model allows for good air circulation so your furry friend can breathe easily.

Harness and Dog Seat Belt

We are routinely bombarded from various organisations asking us to wear our seatbelts when we hop in the car, in order to keep us safe in the event of a crash. And if you love your pooch, you should provide him or her with the same protection and have your furry friend buckle up every time you take a trip in the car.

When looking to get a seat belt for your dog, make sure they are made with high-quality materials that are built to last for as long as you need. Your dog’s safety and health is the number one priority.

Dog Harness

Give your dogs — and Yourself — a Break

Traveling with a dog is a little bit like traveling with a child. Even if you can push yourself to keep going for hours on end to arrive at your destination faster, dogs have different needs. Expect to stop every two or three hours to let them get out, stretch their legs, and do their business. And while you’re at it, enjoy the break. Even if you can keep going, that doesn’t mean you should. People weren’t meant to be driving in a car for 12 hours straight.

Turn off power windows

If you have a car with power windows, it’s quite easy for your dog to accidentally open them with a simple press of their paw. You might think that this is relatively harmless, especially if your pet likes to stick his or her head out in the breeze, which is not allowed, but overexcited dogs have been known to jump out of moving vehicles, and simply taking a wrong step could lead to the window being closed on their neck and choking them.

Bring water and a bowl

Dogs need regular access to water. This is vital on a longer road trip, but even if you’re just headed out to the store, it’s smart to bring along. You never know what might happen. The best way to ensure that you always have water on hand is to store a bottle in the car as part of your emergency kit. A bowl is also nice, but in a pinch, letting your dog drink out of your cupped hand is just fine.

You should also know that, regardless of the laws, it’s never safe to drive with a dog in your lap, to let them ride in the open area of a vehicle without correct restraints or to leave them alone in your car — especially in warmer weather.

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