A road safety and breakdown organisation is encouraging dog owners to ensure that their pets are kept safe on car journeys. GEM Motoring Assist advises against allowing dogs to sit on someone's lap or to have their head out of the window on a journey. In the event of a collision, a small dog such as a terrier could be hurled at the head of someone sitting in the front of the car like a cannonball.
The Highway Code (Rule 57) says: "When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."
If your dog is a large breed, such as a Labrador, it could be catapulted through the car with the force of a baby elephant, injuring all in its way. In both cases it is unlikely that the dog, or the human occupants, would survive such a violent impact.
"It wouldn't be acceptable to let a child sit on someone's lap during a journey, and the same principle applies for dogs," says a GEM spokesperson.
"They need to be kept secure in the car so they can't distract the driver and won't get catapulted around the vehicle if there's a collision or a sudden need to make an emergency stop."
If your dog becomes too vocal in the car, it's important to do your best to ignore any barking while you're driving. Don't shout at them to be quiet or calm down, as this just tells the dog he's got your attention. Instead, trying staying quiet with the dog in the car for a short time at the end of your journey until the barking or whining has finished, so you're rewarding silence.
To help keep your dog calm, Battersea Dogs Home suggest putting a familiar dog bed and some of your dog’s blankets in with them so they have a soft, comfortable space they recognise.
'This familiarity can help them to feel more secure and the bed and blankets also reduce the likelihood of them losing their balance when the car is moving' they add.
Here's a short checklist designed to ensure dogs stay safe and comfortable on car journeys:
If you see a dog left alone inside a vehicle and are concerned about their welfare, try to alert the owner. If this is not possible, contact the police or you could get in touch with the RSPCA via their 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.