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Why You Need to Secure Your Dog When RVing

Updated on May 11, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

In 2012 several states quietly passed laws requiring people to secure their dogs when traveling in vehicles, including campers, travel trailers and motor homes.

Of course when these new laws were put into place, many owners howled with indignation.

They liked driving with their little buddies on their laps, enjoyed watching them stick their heads out of vehicle windows and loved it when they curled up cozily on passenger seats and allowed the road vibrations to lull them to sleep.

Besides, they thought it would be ridiculous to have to put a seat belt on an animal.

However, now that such laws are actively in place in Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii and New Jersey, and with more to come, it may be time for dog owners to take a step back and try to understand why these laws have been enacted so they can decide what to do about them.

Keep your dog and your family safe on RV trips by following the new laws and using appropriate restraints.
Keep your dog and your family safe on RV trips by following the new laws and using appropriate restraints. | Source

These Laws Are Life Savers

The implementation of restraint laws for animals being transported in vehicles have been around for several years.

While they appear to infringe on the rights of animal owners, people need to understand that the real reason for their existence is to protect human lives.

My husband and I traveled in recreational vehicles with our pets long before restraining pets in vehicles became an issue.

I clearly remember one incident where our female German Shepherd, who really didn’t like it when we argued, wormed her way under my husband’s legs while he was driving our van on the interstate.

Her behavior could have caused an accident had we immediately lowered our voices and urged her to back out from behind his legs.

Prior to that event, we never gave the first thought about the fact that allowing her to travel freely could become a danger.

This is a small example, but one that makes my point.

We loved her, and we certainly would never have done anything to harm her. We just didn’t know any better!

A Few Facts

Many people who travel in recreational vehicles like taking their dogs with them because they are often gone for long periods of time and don’t want to imprison their babies in kennels or leave them wondering if they’ll ever see their masters again.

Although most of them would agree that allowing pets to travel unrestrained is dangerous, fewer than 20% actually take steps to limit the movement of their dogs while their vehicles are in motion.

  • Some may not even realize that allowing pets to run loose in an RV is a potential danger.
  • Others may know that it is but simply assume that they won’t have any problems as the result of not restraining their animals while driving.
  • Many may also feel that since officers can’t see inside of their coaches while they’re on the move, they won’t get caught, so why go to the expense and trouble of trying to stay legal?

What they don’t realize is that if they have to make a sudden stop, an unrestrained animal becomes a flying missile that can lose its own life, cause the death of travelers or bring harm to all involved.

Furthermore, depending on the speed of a vehicle and the size and weight of an animal, the force with which a dog could hit something or someone in a collision could easily be upwards of 750 lbs!

So even refusing to restrain a small pet can be a problem.

Do All Restraints Work?

A big and virtually unknown problem with the dog restraints that people buy in well known pet stores is that most of them do not live up to their promises.

The above video put out by the CBC Marketplace is proof positive that using those restraints is a waste of money and is dangerous.

Watch the video and then click on this link to their website that gives you the final results. Out of 16 dog harnesses tested, only one protected the safety of the dog!

So, if you're going to buy a harness for your dog, the Center for Pet Safety says this is the one you should spend your money on, and their crash tests prove this to be true.

They come in three sizes, so there is one to fit any dog.

Only one dog restraint product is made well enough to keep dogs and travelers safe.

Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Crash-Tested Car Safety Dog Harness (Medium, Robin Egg Blue)
Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Crash-Tested Car Safety Dog Harness (Medium, Robin Egg Blue)

This product is the only one of 16 that were crash tested for dog safety that actually did what it said it was supposed to do. Perhaps a bit pricey, but using to protect the safety of your pet dog and his fellow RV travelers is worth every penny.


Common Sense Should Prevail

Dogs come in a variety of sizes, so restraining some can be easier than doing the same with others.

The larger they are, the more dangerous they can become if there is an accident.

If people simply cannot tolerate leaving these pets behind while they vacation, they might want to consider staying home. Another alternative would be to take short trips by plane so that a dog does not have to do without his daily pleasures.

The point here is that people have to weigh personal safety against inconvenience, and use some common sense when it comes to taking their dogs with them when they RV.

My best advice, for safety purposes is that if you must travel with a dog, keep it small and well secured when you're on the move.

If you can’t do this, leave it at home.

Leaving large dogs at home when you RV protects the safety of your entire family
Leaving large dogs at home when you RV protects the safety of your entire family | Source

The Choice Is Clear

Now that these laws are in place, and knowing that other states will probably adopt similar ones, maybe it’s time for people to become more responsible when it comes to RVing with their pets.

If they choose not to do so, perhaps the hefty fines of up to $1,000 will convince them that they need to take action.

The choice is very clear. Either do what you must to protect the safety of your family and pet when RVing by harnessing or crating your animal, or leave them at home.

Taking the necessary steps required to restrain your dog or cat while you are on the move in your RV is a small price to pay for saving lives.

RVing with unrestrained dogs is dangerous

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 weeks ago

    Karen Hellier: I just found out about this myself. Be sure to watch the crash test videos...very scary.

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 3 weeks ago from Georgia

    I had no idea that some states have enacted this law. I don't own an RV but hope to some day and had planned on bringing my dog with me so thanks for the information.

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