Drivers face £5,000 fine or disqualification for letting dog hang out of car window

9 May 2022, 11:49 | Updated: 5 October 2022, 12:03

You could be fined for letting your dog stick its head out of the window
You could be fined for letting your dog stick its head out of the window. Picture: Getty Images

The Highway Code states dogs must be 'suitably restrained' when travelling in a car.

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Dog owners who let their pets hang out of their car windows could face a hefty fine.

Under the Highway Code, drivers must secure their dog - or any other small animal - in a seatbelt harness or a carrier when driving.

If an animal is found to have caused or contributed to a road accident, the owner could be fined up to £5,000 and be hit with points on their licence. It could also invalidate their car and pet insurance.

Rule 57 of the code states: "When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.

Dogs should be restrained during car journeys
Dogs should be restrained during car journeys. Picture: Alamy

"A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

Mark Tongue, of Select Car Leasing, added: “We’d recommend you don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window.

“Not only does that potentially illustrate that the animal is not restrained properly, there’s also the obvious risk of its head coming into contact with something, like a bush or a tree, resulting in a bad injury.

“And make no mistake - if you don’t have your dog properly restrained, and it’s causing distraction, you could be prosecuted by the law.

“Don’t take the risk. Make sure both you and your pooch are buckled up properly.”

Dog owners can be fined for letting their pets hang out of the window
Dog owners can be fined for letting their pets hang out of the window. Picture: Alamy

Dogs Trust has also given advice to owners who are preparing to take their dogs on a car journey for the first time.

A statement reads: "Until they’ve got used to car journeys, dogs may not understand what is happening.

"They may find it confusing, worrying or frustrating when they can see people, other dogs, or traffic through the car windows, and some might bark at what they can see.

"Others might feel they need to protect the car because it’s valuable to them or is full of valuable things, such as the dog’s family, toys or blanket. If your dog is struggling, then ask for professional help.

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"Use treats to reward your dog for simply being in the car. Some dogs can be worried or excited about what might happen when they’re in a small, confined space and find it difficult to relax.

"If they get treats every time they get in the car, they’ll soon really like it in there! Your dog also needs to get used to the sound and movement of the car.

"It’s useful to give them something enjoyable when there is a change in their environment, so when the engine starts give your dog a tasty treat, and another when the car starts moving.

"They’ll soon learn that it’s nothing to worry about as it means good things happen."