Restraint of dogs in vehicles in the US, UK and Australia

Although dogs routinely travel in motor vehicles, there is a lack of evidence on if, how, and why people choose to restrain their dogs when travelling. A lack of restraint is likely to be associated with an increased risk of serious injury or death in the case of an accident, and in some cases may even precipitate an accident. The aim of the present study was to determine the frequency in which dog restraints are used in the US, UK and Australia in a convenience sample, and the factors associated with whether or not a dog is restrained. Online surveys using SurveyMonkey® were distributed in the US, UK and Australia during 2017-2018. The survey consisted of questions related to owning a dog, owner and dog demographics, use of restraint when driving with the dog, reasons for restraining/not restraining the dog, and attitudes to restraint of dogs in vehicles. A logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with the use of restraint. There were 706, 692 and 637 completed surveys from the US, UK and Australia, respectively. A little over half of respondents restrained their dog in the US (55%) compared to 67% in Australia and 72% in the UK. The most common method of restraint in the US and UK was a cage/crate in the cargo area in the back of the vehicle; in Australia it was a harness and tether attached to a seat buckle. In the generalised linear model, country, dog size, owner age, dog age and vehicle type were all significant factors associated with the use of restraint for dogs in cars. Younger dog owners from the US who drove a pickup truck or utility van, had a large dog, and drove with their dogs less frequently were least likely to restrain their dogs. This research highlights the need for improved education and information regarding the use of restraints for dogs traveling in vehicles, although the limitations in the convenience sample used mean further research is needed, including use of a more representative sample.

Susan J. Hazel, Lori R. Kogan, V. Tamara Montrose, Michelle L. Hebart, James A. Oxley. (2019) Restraint of dogs in vehicles in the US, UK and Australia. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 170, 104714.

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