How to Transport Your Assistance Dog in a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV)

A Picture of a Golden Retriever Assistance Dog

Everyone knows that age-old saying “a dog is a man’s best friend”; but for many of us a canine chum is far more than a faithful pet or a loyal companion. 

Assistance dogs, also known as service dogs, are the specially trained dogs that serve a crucial role in the everyday lives of those with disabilities. 

For wheelchair users, mobility assistance dogs can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks such as opening and closing doors, retrieving items from the floor and even turning small switches on and off. 

These invaluable dogs go absolutely everywhere with their owners, meaning that transporting them safely in vehicles is of the utmost importance. 

In this article, we look at how mobility assistance dogs can travel safely in mobility cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Be Safe – Do Not Let Your Dog Travel Loose in the Car 

Three Black Labradors Sitting, waiting for a command.
Three Black Labradors sitting, waiting for a command.

Of course, there is a temptation to just let your dog make itself comfortable in the car – finding its own place in the vehicle to suit its shape and size and leaving it the option to move around whenever it feels restless. The problem with this approach is that although it is always well-meant, it really isn’t what is best for your dog. 

The fact is that the car can be as dangerous an environment for dogs as it can for humans. 

A high-speed crash on a motorway can have very serious consequences for dogs that are left loose in cars. Even a low-speed collision on a quiet suburban street can be more than enough to cause serious injuries to dogs travelling loose in the vehicle.

Portable Kennel/Travel Crate

A better alternative is a portable kennel or a travel crate. These can be firmly attached to the vehicle to eliminate any movement when stopping, starting, cornering and, most importantly, in the case of an accident.

They also have the advantage of being a familiar environment for your dog and come with enough room for comforters or toys if your dog is prone to motion sickness. 

A Dog in a Car Crate for Safety When Travelling
Keeping Your Dog Safe in Your Car

And they can be covered with a blanket to reduce the stress of travel. Typically, these portable kennels work best placed in the back of the car. Of course, though, wheelchair adapted cars and WAVs come in a range of shapes and sizes, and not all will be suited to this option. 

Dog Seat Belt/Car Harness

Another good choice, then, is a dog seatbelt or car harness. There are many varieties of these on the market; some plug directly into the car’s seatbelt socket and others require you to plug the seat belt into the empty seat first and then attach your dog’s harness to the belt afterwards. 

Whatever particular form the device takes and whatever price point you opt for, though, remember that they are all providing the same essential function of keeping your dog attached to its seat. For many WAV owners, this option works particularly well because it allows the dog to remain close by and keeps them accessible during the journey.

Final word…

The most important thing to remember when transporting your mobility assistance dog is that they should always be restrained to ensure that they remain safe.

Consider the size of your dog and how this fits in with the set-up of your WAV to work out the best travel option for you. 

Remember, too, that you may wish to use different options for different journeys – a short harness, say, for everyday journeys and a travel crate for longer trips. 

Travel safe and… Bon Voyage!

This post was kindly supplied by Paddock Automotive – Mobility Specialists. The Bimblers were compensated for this post.

About The Bimblers 126 Articles
The Bimblers is a personal blog about living with chronic pain, invisible illness and disability. It's about travelling in a wheelchair and accessible travel. It's about picking ourselves up when we get knocked down. And, it's about what we can do, not what we can't!

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