6 road safety tips for dog owners

by PDSA | 4 November 2021 #Lifestyle

Walkies are not only good for your dog’s health and happiness – they’re great for us too! For many of us, however, heading out with our four-legged friends involves walking on roads or pavements, which can be dangerous for our dogs if we’re not careful. We all want to keep our pets safe, so here’s 6 tips for protecting dogs around our busy roads!

1. Keep your dog on a lead

The simplest step you can take to keep your dog safe near roads, is to keep them on a short lead attached to a well-fitted collar or harness. Don’t use an extender lead – it won’t give you the control you need if your dog suddenly dashes off or jumps into the road.

Never allow your dog off lead near roads, even if they are really well behaved – remember, it only takes a small distraction or fright for an accident to happen! It’s also important to know that in some areas it’s actually illegal to have your dog off lead on a road.

There are plenty of pet-friendly places where you can safely allow your dog to have a run off the lead. If you do decide to let your dog off the lead in a park, field or open space, remember to always check that the area is secure with fences, so your dog can’t accidentally get onto any nearby roads.

If your dog has a habit of pulling, try brushing up on their reward-based training to help them get used to walking nicely on their lead.


2. Teach your dog awareness

Your dog won’t automatically know that they need to stop and wait at curb until it’s safe to cross – but you can help them to learn some road sense with simple commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘wait’. You’ll always need to keep your dog under close control to keep them safe around roads, but these commands can help make it easier.

Teaching your dog to stop and sit at the edge of the pavement will help stop them rushing out in front of a car by accident. When you need to cross, walk to the edge of the curb with your dog close to you, ask them to ‘sit’ and give them a treat when they do. Then, tell them to ‘wait’ while you check if the road is clear. When it is safe to do so, calmly give your dog the command to ‘walk’ while you slowly cross the road. Don’t forget to use plenty of tasty treats to help your dog learn these commands – you want to teach your dog that it’s more rewarding to wait with you than it is to dash across the road!


3. Make sure your dog can do an 'emergency stop'

Although your dog should always be safely on the lead when you’re near a road, it’s a good idea to teach them an emergency command such as ‘stop’, so you can get them to stop immediately if they are faced with a dangerous situation.

Start by teaching this command around the house, or in a quiet area away from any dangers, first. This will allow your dog to learn the command well, before practising in more distracting situations where you teach your dog to listen, even with the excitement of busy places. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use the emergency command for real, but it’s a good idea to keep practicing it throughout your dog’s life, just in case!

Remember – always keep reward-based training fun, and don’t punish your dog if they make any mistakes.


4. Make sure you can always be seen

You should always make sure you and your dog can be seen when you’re out walking –especially when it’s dark or when visibility is poor.

Light coloured clothes or a high visibility jacket can help drivers spot you when walking along the road, and a reflective lead, high visibility dog coat or an LED collar can help your pooch to stand out.


5. Plan your route and stick to crossings

When taking your dog for their walkies, it’s always a good idea to plan your route carefully – especially if it involves roads. Avoid roads without pavements, and if you’re heading to an area you don’t know, check out a satellite or street view map to get an idea of the safest and quietest routes to take.

When crossing the road, it’s also a good idea to try to find marked pedestrian crossings to give you and your dog more time to cross safely. If there aren’t any crossings and you need to cross, try to avoid bends in the road, busy areas, or roads with a high speed limit. If you’re struggling to cross safely, it’s often safer to return by the route you’ve arrived.


6. Be prepared with a collar, tag, microchip and insurance

It’s important to always be prepared before you step out the door for a walk with your dog. Microchips, collars and pet insurance can all help if your dog gets lost, injured or involved in an accident.

Microchip and collar

By law, your dog must be microchipped, and wearing a collar with identification on whenever they are in a public place. You’ll need keep your contact details up to date on their microchip throughout their life, and make sure their collar holds a form of identification, such as a dog tag – showing your name, address and contact number. These precautions will mean that you can be contacted as quickly as possible if your dog were ever to get lost, injured or involved in an accident.

Pet insurance

No matter what we do to keep our four-legged friends safe and healthy, unfortunately, they can become ill or injured at unexpected times. If your dog is unfortunate enough to be involved a traffic accident, they could have some serious injuries, which may result in a large vet bill. Finding the right pet insurance for your dog means that you will have financial coverage in the event of an accident, sickness or injury.

Take a look at our PDSA store for the perfect reflective wear to keep your pooch safe.

Share this article on:  PDSA | 4 November 2021


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