Half of dog owners are breaking the law when they drive with their pooch in the car, a study shows.
According to a survey by the Dogs Trust charity, 50 per cent of East Midlands' folk are unaware they are committing an offence and not abiding by the highway code by not suitably restraining their canines while driving.
The results also show that 48 percent of drivers do not restrain their dogs with a harness while in the car. More than a third admitted to finding their pooches a distraction with 14 per cent saying they they have had to take their hand off the wheel to restrain their four-legged passengers.
Dr Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research at the Dogs Trust, said: "Dogs are such an important part of people's lives so it's understandable that owners want to take them out and about with them. However, our survey shows many people don't know the safest way to travel with their dogs and some are even unwittingly breaking the law by letting their dogs roam around the car while they are on the move."
Advice from the Dogs Trust
► there's a legal obligation for dogs to travel safely and they must be secured and not in the front of the car
► dogs should be secured within the boot with a guard blocking access to the car passenger interior or within a crate/cage securely positioned within the boot or, if you use a harness for your dog, ensure that it is appropriately sized and correctly fitted. The dog should travel on the back seat and the harness should be secured to the seat belt attachment
► if your dog is getting used to car travel, place something that smells very much of you/your dog in with them to help them feel secure - blanket/bed/pillow cases etc - as the smell of this can give comfort and reassurance
► ensure that your dog has plenty to drink so they don't become dehydrated and do not leave a dog alone in a car
► introduce the car gradually, making getting in and out and wearing the harness a positive experience before starting to travel anywhere
► if you use a harness for your dog, ensure that it is appropriately sized and correctly fitted. The dog should travel on the back seat and be secured to the seat belt attachment
► the Dogs Trust advises securing a dog behind the front passenger seat and NEVER behind the driver in case they get hold of clothing etc and cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle
► train your dog to wait calmly before being asked to jump out of the car every time. This is important as it could be dangerous if he or she jumped out into a road with traffic, for example