The leglislation for dogs travelling in vehicles varies from country to country and it is wise to know what is required to ensure the safety of your dog and others and avoid potential fines etc. for not abiding to the laws. The leglislation for Portugal states that dogs must be suitably restrained in a separate passenger area where they cannot interfere with your driving. When they say restrained this means using a special lead that is fitted into the seatbelt, which for your dogs safety and to prevent injury to their neck it should be used with a suitable dog harness. Alternatively they should be contained in a crate/travelling kennel or behind dog guards.
Use of a dog guard
Restraining lead that fits straight into the seatbelt holder
If you drive a commercial vehicle i.e. a van, your dog is allowed to travel in the back with out being restrained as long as it is completely separate from the driving area. Many countries are now making it law to have your dog in a crate or behind a dog guard, with heavy fines being administered if you are caught not abiding to the law, Portugal however still allow the use of a lead restraint at the moment.
Irrespective of the law common sense says there are many reasons for safely restraining your dog when travelling in the car:
- It is very dangerous to have your dog loose whilst driving, if you suddenly stop or swerve they may be thrown out of the car and cause injury to you, themselves and others in the car.
- They can distract you causing all sorts of risks.
- If they are near an air bag as it goes off they will suffer serious injury.
- They could jump out to chase something if the windows are open as you drive.
- If there is an accident and your dog escapes into the traffic they risk getting injured , causing another accident or biting someone as they will be very anxious/scared.
- You could run the risk that your insurance company will not cover any costs caused from your dog being unsuitably restrained whilst driving.
- Certainly in the UK if there was an accident and your dog is not restrained in a crate or behind a dog guard in your car the emergency services are not obliged to enter your vehicle until a dog handler arrives hence delaying any treatment they need to administer to yourself or your passengers. I have not been able to find out if this would apply here in Portugal but I would not like to take the risk and always travel with my dogs comfortably restrained in a crate for their safety as well as others.