More than seven million of the UK’s estimated 10.2 million dog owners travel with their pet in the car at least once every week.
Fitting then that next week marks the start of Crufts (crufts.org.uk) — the UK’s biggest and most prestigious annual dog show.
Organised by The Kennel Club, it’s at the NEC in Birmingham from Thursday, March 9 to Sunday March 12, with the UK arm of the Czech car-maker Škoda as its official automotive partner.
But research by Skoda shows not everyone is up to speed on how to keep their treasured pets safe.
Four legs and four wheels: A Skoda may be the perfect car for transporting your dog, and the manufacturer has now teamed up with Crufts organiser The Kennel Club
Rules and regulations
For although just over half (51 per cent) of motorists questioned in a Skoda survey said they always safely secure their dog in the car, nearly one in ten (9 per cent) do not.
A similar proportion (9 per cent) even let their pooch sit on the dashboard, rising to one in eight (12 per cent) who allowed their hound to sit on their lap when they were driving.
This figure was even more pronounced among younger drivers aged 18 to 24 years old, with over a quarter (27 per cent) letting their dog sit on their lap while driving.
But these could prove costly as well as potentially tragic mistakes. For while Britons spend on average about £4,000 a year on their dogs — including food, pet insurance, toys and grooming — many also risk falling foul of the law.
The Highway Code says dogs must be suitably secured so they avoid distracting the driver and to prevent injury in the case of a sudden stop.
Yet more than 44 per cent are unaware of laws around travelling with a dog in the car which can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 and invalidate insurance for failing to safely secure their pet while driving, according to the Skoda UK survey.
Seven out of ten of drivers said they drove more carefully with their dog in the car, though nearly a quarter said that it made them more stressed.
Top tips when travelling with dogs in cars
Land Rover’s pet care and access pack includes a ramp (above), foldable carrier and portable shower — so handy after a muddy walk.
- Keep dogs on a lead when getting in and out of a vehicle.
- Take regular breaks for fresh air (above) and to allow your dog to stretch its legs
- Accessories, such as a rear-seat dog hammock, make travelling more secure and comfortable.
Buckle up: Securely fasten your dog with a harness or in-car carrier
- Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day, even if parked in the shade
- More at: skoda.co.uk/discover/driving-with-dogs
Plenty of positivity
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of owners (95 per cent) believe dogs improve their mental health while nearly eight out of ten believe they would be lonelier without them. A similar proportion (77 per cent) say they would be less physically active.
To make finding the right dog accessories easier, Skoda has created a special Pet Pack that comprises a dog guard, rear bumper protector and a double-sided boot mat or rubber boot liner.
It is available for all Skoda models (except Scala) and is priced from £230 (including VAT but excluding fitting).
Dog owners can also choose from a range of harnesses that are easily attached to their vehicles’ existing rear seat belts, including dog safety harnesses priced from £62 to £82 depending on size, and a back-seat hammock at £115.
Skoda has been working with its charity partner Dogs for Good (dogsforgood.org), which brings people and dogs together to help make life possible for people with a range of disabilities.
Its staff drive dogs in training to and from their temporary boarders, visit and support puppy socialisers, and/or take community dogs to the different organisations with which they work.
The collaboration has helped Skoda develop its extensive range of bespoke dog safety accessories, the company said.
Two Kamiq compact SUVs which starred in a recent TV advert — in which the Skoda vehicles tackled a dog show agility course — have been donated to the charity to support their work and are on show at Crufts.
Tips: Mini, which has a partnership with the Dogs Trust has a special online Dogs Hub (mini.co.uk/en_GB/home/mini-dogs-hub) offering help and advice
As part of their official partnership with Crufts, Skoda will have a stand in the main exhibition hall featuring a podium where visitors can take selfies with their dogs.
Mini, which has a partnership with the Dogs Trust (dogstrust.org.uk), has a special online Dogs Hub (mini.co.uk/en_GB/home/mini-dogs-hub) offering help and advice, as well as details of a range of dog accessories.
Training at all 131 Mini dealerships has included: how to keep dogs safe in showrooms by creating dog-free and dog-friendly spaces; how to approach a dog; how to avoid hazards for dogs; as well as how to manage dogs to make everyone feel at ease.
Land Rover’s canine accessories include a spill-resistant water bowl, portable shower, access ramp, foldable pet carrier, luggage partition, and a quilted load space liner to protect against paw prints.
Other dog-friendly car manufacturers also offer a range of canine accessories, including Volvo, SEAT and Rolls-Royce.
- Details at crufts.org.uk.