No matter where you live, motor vehicles are more or less unavoidable these days. A big part of learning to be independent as a child is road safety. Crossing the road carefully and avoiding collisions is just common sense to us, and you probably don’t give it a second thought. For dogs it’s not that simple. Here we discuss five occasions when your dog is at risk of an accident and how to manage dogs and traffic.
Some dogs develop tunnel vision when they’re in hot pursuit of a ball or smaller animal. Unfortunately this can sometimes cause them to run into the road if the thing they’re chasing goes in that direction. If your dog has a high prey drive, make sure they are on the lead near roads at all times. This includes when you get them in and out of the car, even if the road seems quiet, because you never know when they might spot something and give chase. When it comes to the wellbeing of our pets it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are two instances when parking might be dangerous. Firstly, if your dog goes to greet visitors and your driveway is accessible to them, they might run out to meet the car and be hit by a car if they aren’t spotted. Secondly, shortly after parking and upon releasing them from the car, they could jump out and into the road, especially if you are parked up on a kerb. Be sure to only open the door when the road is clear and to herd your dog away from the road as quickly as possible.
Some people enjoy letting their dog stick their head out of a window during transit for a little fresh air. However, this can be extremely dangerous as there have been instances of dogs falling, or even jumping, through open car windows and into the road. It is safer to keep them secure in the boot or use a seatbelt harness.
Whether it’s dark, foggy, crowded or very bright, sometimes it’s difficult to see clearly and in such instances it’s especially important to be careful near roads. If visibility is poor it is safer to keep your dog on the lead at all times. It may seem overzealous, but if it’s difficult for you to spot cars it’s going to be much harder for your pet to see them, not to mention near-impossible for the driver to see the dog!
Even very well-behaved dogs can lose control if they are extremely excited, and this could be dangerous if you’re near a road. Try to behave calmly, and discourage over-exuberant or boisterous behaviour near roads and cars from the day you first bring your dog or puppy home. This will teach them to approach these things with caution.
There are a number of steps you can take to instil a sense of road safety into your dog. Teach your dog to sit when they approach a kerbside and to not cross the road without a specific command. This should be done whenever you do so, even if the road is clear and the dog is on a lead. This way they will learn that they should never cross a road without permission from you. However, you cannot rely on this and it is best to be very careful near roads, whether they are quiet country lanes or busy motorways.