If you’re in the market for a new car, whether you want one fresh from the showroom or are happier with a second hand offering, you should think about how suitable your new ride will be for your dog, as well as ensuring that it ticks all of the relevant boxes when it comes to your own comfort and safety, and that of your family.
While you might already have a clear idea of what you are looking for, and have, through trial and error, sussed out what does and does not work when driving with your dog, there are a whole range of other factors that can be helpful or desirable when it comes to cars as well, and that you may not have considered before.
In this article, we will share some tips and tricks on what to look for in your new car, when shopping around with your dog in mind. Read on to learn more!
The capacity of the boot is a core consideration for most people, be they dog owners or not! While some dog owners prefer to travel their dogs in the passenger seats (secured with a harness of course), good boot space is an essential for most dog lovers, in order to provide an option when it comes to travelling your dog in the rear compartment.
The volume of boot space in any given car is calculated in terms of litres, and you will usually be faced with two calculations: The figure for the boot with the rear seats up, and that for the volume with the rear seats down. Added to this, some cars have an option called ratio seating, which allows you to drop part of the rear seats but leave one or two of the others upright, so that you can increase your storage capacity whilst still leaving room for a passenger in the rear seats. The most common ratios for this are 50/50, or 60/40.
Unless you only drive with your dog occasionally, or intend to leave your rear seats in the reclined position most of the time in order to accommodate your dog, base your decisions on the boot volume with the seats up, and take a look at the physical boot space itself, in order to ensure that the stated volume provides enough floor space rather than just a narrow area with a high head height.
Just as important as the volume of the boot itself is the head height that it permits; not such an issue if you have a small dog, but if your dog is medium or large, your new ride should ensure that your dog can sit upright comfortably without having to duck their head, or lean forward to avoid being pressed right up against the sloped rear window of a hatchback.
Air conditioning comes as standard on most modern cars, and ideally, you should ensure that your car of choice not only has basic air conditioning, but rear climate control too, so that you can manage the temperature of the boot or rear seats independently of your own needs.
Look for a car that either has a removable dog guard in place for the boot, or that comes from a range or model for which you can buy an aftermarket guard to secure the boot area and stop your dog from climbing over into the front seats.
Some cars incorporate attachment ringlets into the boot as well, which is an added bonus when it comes to securing your dog’s crate or carrier in place.
Cars and other vehicles of different types can vary considerably when it comes to the height from the ground to the floor of the boot, and this is something that you should bear in mind when it comes to your dog’s ease and comfort while getting in and out! A sprightly, medium sized Labrador retriever and other similar breeds will likely be comfortable jumping up into a high boot, while smaller dogs like the Dachshund, or an elderly dog or one with health issues will struggle with a big gap.
This means that you will either need to rule out cars with a large drop to the floor, or invest in a ramp or step system for your dog-and ensure that this is quick and easy to set up and remove, and can be stowed away in the car when not in use without getting in the way-or relegate yourself to a life of having to lift your dog in and out of the car every time!
Some taller vehicles come fitted with a rear lift gate, which is generally unique to more costly offerings, but if this does fall within your budget, can offer you extra options and ease of loading when it comes to your dog.
It is not a good idea to allow your dog to get their whole head out of the window when you’re driving along, as this can lead to accidents and also, the potential of dirt and grit landing in your dog’s eye. But dogs do like fresh air when on the move, so try to pick a car that has rear or boot windows that can be opened a crack, and that can be controlled from the front of the car when on the move.
Like people, many dogs will be unhappy and even potentially more prone to car sickness if they cannot see where they are going, so try to pick a car that will allow your dog to be able to see out through the front window, and face the direction of travel.
A sunroof, particularly a rear sunroof, is an added bonus in terms of both fresh air and light, and so is worthy of consideration as a desirable extra.