Distractionless driving with children and dogs

This week continues the posts about driving safer by avoiding distractions. Last time, I encouraged you to keep your attention on the road by ignoring your cell phone and not fiddling with the entertainment system or GPS. As promised, today I’ll be touching on tips for driving safer with children and dogs in the car.

Both children and dogs can be a pretty big distraction when you’re driving, but in different ways. Dogs generally form a distraction when they are free to run around in the car, unrestrained. When this is the case, they can startle the driver by nudging them or suddenly licking them. Even a dog who suddenly starts breathing right next to your ear because he wants to see out the windshield, can take you by surprise.

Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you
Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you

But maybe your pooch does none of this and sits politely on the backseat. Even then, you might get distracted as you are likely to be tempted to look back and see how your dog is doing. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second is potentially dangerous. Luckily, there is a simple solution: keep your dog restrained in a safe manner when he is in the car. This way, he cannot reach you and you will know without having to look that he is safe. There are several ways to achieve this, some like a kennel or a pet barrier are better than for instance a special seat belt or harness for reasons I have explained before.

Sleeping child: a rare sight
Sleeping child: a rare sight

Keeping your young children from distracting you can be a harder task. They too will seek your attention but instead of nudging you, they are more prone to shouting and screaming. Whether it’s demanding sweets or fighting with a sibling, it’s hard to ignore and the urge to look back and intervene will be strong. However, this would endanger you all. Instead, when going on a trip make sure you are prepared and have different ways of keeping

Trouble ahead
Trouble ahead

the kids occupied. This can take many forms, from having plenty of (preferably healthy) snacks to bringing toys, books, films and such. Of course, the good old fashioned ways of playing games such as I spy and singing songs works too, as long as you can still pay enough attention to the road while participating.

Next time when going somewhere with your dog or child, try to keep these simple tips in mind and try to focus on what’s going on outside the car and not what’s happening inside. Take measures to avoid distraction or just leave it to your co-pilot to handle it, if you are lucky enough to have one. Safe driving!

 

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Pupcation

This post will conclude the series on special activities for dogs and we’re going out with a bang. This latest activity is definitely not something you can do every day or even every month: a pupcation, or a holiday with your pooch. I don’t suggest you go on holiday just for your dog. But if you’re planning one already, why not take the four-legged family member(s) along?

New sights, new smells, amazing views
New sights, new smells, amazing views

Taking your dog along on a trip can be fun, however it can be a bit of a hassle and you have make thorough preparations. It all starts with choosing the right type of holiday: any kind of trip which just results in your pooch being left in the hotel room is a no-go. Instead, choose for an active vacation like camping or a nature holiday. Your pup will thank you.

Bringing your dog along on a pupcation has several advantages, for humans and pups. For one, you won’t have to look for someone to look after Fido while you’re away and you know he’s in the best hands: your own. This eliminates any chance of your dog pining and missing you. For your pup, as for you, a holiday means a change of scenery and exploring new things and places. And if you choose for an active holiday, it will mean lots of exercise too. This will lead to a tired, but very content pooch.

pupcation luggage
A Suitcase for every family member

However, as I mentioned there is also a downside to a pupcation. Accommodation being the major one: you will have to look for places that allow your dog. The same goes for any activities you might have planned, be sure to look online whether they are dog-friendly. Of course, it’s OK to plan an activity which doesn’t allow for dogs, as long as you don’t leave your pup on their own devices for an entire day or don’t plan too many of these. Otherwise, it would defeat the point of bringing your dog along and they’d be better off being looked after by a family member or in a kennel.

Taking your pooch along also means packing their suitcase. They will need their food, toys, bedding and such too. A more extensive list can be found here. Also, don’t forget to bring a doggy first aid kit and the number of your vet and a local vet. If you travel by car, please make sure to secure your dog properly. However, as long as you prepare well, the pupcation will be a fun trip for all family members.

Have you and your dog ever gone on a pupcation? If so, where did you go? Feel free to give some recommendations in the comments!