The Mechanic – Issue 154 – Dog restraint

Dogs and campervans go hand in hand. From day
trips and short breaks to holidays and touring, a
large portion of campervan owners are also dog
owners. A recent survey conducted by the Dogs
Trust, showed that half of dog owners who take
them along in their vehicle didn’t know that dogs
need to be restrained, by law.
Rule 57 of the Highway 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. A seat belt harness,
pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of
restraining animals in cars.”

If you don’t secure your dog properly, not only
could you invalidate your insurance and lose your
license, but you could also risk their life and yours.
Car insurance companies may even refuse to pay
out on incidents where an unrestrained dog is
involved, as it’s likely that the dog was a distraction
and that the driver was in breach of Highway Code
Rule 57, as above.
The police also seem to be clamping down on
unrestrained dogs in cars, as it’s a real danger to
the dog, the driver and any passengers. Being
caught with an unsecured animal in a vehicle can
result in up to 9 penalty points and a £2,500 fine.
As stated in Rule 57, a seat belt harness, pet carrier,
dog crate or dog guard are ways of restraining
animals in your van legally and they are readily
available in pet shops, car accessory shops and of
course online.

A dog guard fits between the boot area of your
van and the rear seat and creates a safe place for
your dog to spend the journey whilst you travel.
A dog crate or carrier could be placed in the boot
area in your van or inside the main interior. Some
people may favour this option as it also gives their
dog a secure place to sleep at night but can be
troublesome to store when not in use.
We have tried these options in cars and campers
and have found that the easiest and hassle free
method is to use a harness (personal choice). They
are simple to use and take up little or no space
when they are not in use.
It doesn’t take long to set up the harness to fit your
dog securely and once you’ve got it done once
you’ll likely never have to change it.
There’s a simple, five-step process for getting your
wet-nosed friend ready for an exciting trip in your
van using a harness;
1. Unlace the webbing from the alloy buckle.
2. Adjust the webbing to the right length for
your dog.
3. Secure any excess webbing under the
storage tabs.
4. Lay the harness out on the floor and have
your dog step into it with its front paws
then secure the clip.
5. In the car, ensure that the harness is
secured correctly to one of the seat belts
and that any slack is taken up.
Just Kampers now stock a range of harnesses
which are ideal for all VW Transporters from T2’s
right through to T6’s and are available for all sizes
of dog. They have also been fully crash tested, so
you can rest assured that your dog will be safe and
Here are some more tips for travelling with your
dog to ensure that they and you enjoy the journey;
• Ensure they’re properly restrained as detailed
• Give them one of their favourite toys
or blankets, so they feel at home when
• Don’t let them hang their heads out of the
window. We all know they love doing it, but
it is potentially really dangerous and will
signal to the police that they’re probably
• If you can avoid it, don’t feed them for a
couple of hours before going out to avoid
travel sickness.
• Carry water with you, in case they overheat
and need cooling down.

Only 20 minutes in a
hot vehicle can prove
fatal to a dog. Within a
matter of minutes, as
the temperature rises,
your dog’s suffering will
become evident through
excessive panting, whimpering or barking. This
will then develop into a loss of muscle control and
ultimately their kidneys will cease to function, the
brain will become damaged and their heart will
To make everyone aware of just how quickly your
dog can be affected, the Dogs Trust has given
some top tips;
• Don’t leave your dog in a parked car or
van, even for a few minutes – even if it
seems cool outside it can become very
hot, very quickly. Parking in the shade and/
or keeping the windows down does not
make it safe!
• If you see a dog in distress in a parked car
or van, please call the Police on 999. If the
police are unable to attend, please call the
RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line 0300 1234 999.
• Make sure you keep your dog as cool as
possible when driving. Avoid travelling
during the heat of the day, use sun blinds
on the windows and consider opening
a window to allow a cooling breeze to
circulate in the vehicle.
• Make sure you have a supply of water and
know where you can stop off on the way
for water breaks. Dogs are not able to cool
down as effectively as humans, so can
suffer from heat stroke and dehydration
very quickly.
• If you are present at the rescue of a dog
that is clearly in distress, seek immediate
veterinary advice. The very first priority
is to prevent the dog from getting any
hotter, attempt to provide shade from
the sun and move to a cooler area.
Dampening the dog down with cool
(not freezing) water will help start to
bring the body temperature down.

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About Nick Gillott

Website Manager and General Committee member of the Owners Club. Owner of Eric the Viking (converted panel van with Viking roof) undergoing complete restoration. Tinkerer to Poppy the camper van (1972 Crossover dormobile).