Travel & Touring | WA road trips

22 June, 2020   By: Kirsty Petrides

Let's face it - taking your dog with you on holiday can often be easier than finding a pet sitter or sending it to a boarding kennel.

So if you're considering taking your pooch to a dog-friendly holiday spot, here are our top tips on what to do.

1. Know the rules

The rules around this differ from state to state, but in WA the law states an animal being transported in a vehicle must not be in position where they could distract or obstruct the vision of the driver. The law also states that an animal cannot be on the driver's lap. So simply popping your pet onto the front passenger seat unrestrained where they could move freely around the car, distract you, obstruct your vision or even climb onto your lap, is not allowed. 

The RSPCA can also issue fines under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – if an animal is injured because it was unrestrained, owners face up to six months’ jail and fines of up to $5,500. So restraining your dog is a must.

2. Use a seatbelt restraint

In a crash or when braking suddenly, a dog that's roaming freely around your car can be a serious risk to both the animal and other passengers. You can buy car restraints at most pet stores, which connect to your vehicle’s existing seatbelts. 

There is no law in WA about dogs riding in the front passenger seat, but be mindful that airbags can cause an incredibly force and could seriously injure your dog if deployed suddenly – so backseat is best.

3. Alternatively, use a crate instead

If your pet is too small or large for seatbelt restraints, place it in a pet crate that is anchored within your car – don’t just pop it on the backseat where it can move around every time you brake or turn a corner.

Make sure it is large enough for your dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in, and also make sure it receives enough airflow and ventilation. Just make sure the crate isn’t impacting your visibility through the rear-view mirror.

4. Keep heads and paws inside the car

If you’ve safely restrained your dog, it likely won’t be able to get its head or paws out the window – but if for whatever reason they can, make sure you close the window closest to them.

Animals with their heads or paws hanging out the window are not only a serious hazard for passing vehicles, but high-speed winds can be harmful to your dog’s eyes and ears. 

5. Give them toys to prevent them distracting you

Pets love attention, but when you’re driving your focus should be on the road rather than giving your furry friend belly rubs.

So make sure they have enough to keep them entertained for the car journey, so they’re less likely to turn to you for attention and distract you. Just make sure these toys aren’t too noisy, as this could cause a distraction.

6. Create a doggy organiser

If you’ve got a spare toiletry bag, convert it into an over-the-seat car organizer to keep all your pet supplies like harness, lead, extra water, dog poo bags, treats and food in one place. That way, when you're approaching a rest stop, you won't be distracted trying to remember where in the car you packed the dog snacks, and can instead focus safely on driving.

7. Don't leave them in the car on hot days

If you’re taking a road-trip break on a hot day, don’t leave your pet in the car. With very few sweat glands to dissipate body heat, dogs mainly rely on panting to help bring their body temperature back into balance.

In a hot vehicle, a dog’s body temperature can rise rapidly resulting in damage to the central nervous system and organ failure.

8. Know the rules at your destination

Not all accommodation and campgrounds are friendly, so make sure your pet is definitely allowed at your holiday destination.  

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