Monday, 17 February 2014

Barking Blondes: Dogs in cars

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
IMG 0767 768x1024 Barking Blondes: Dogs in carsThe plan to ban smoking in cars, where children are passengers, prompted an interesting call to our radio show this week.
Wendy from Stockwell wondered if this new legislation should be extended to also include dogs in cars?
There is a raft of scientific evidence that proves that our four-legged friends are just as susceptible to passive smoking. Health issues incurred in dogs are similar to those in humans: bronchial disorders, lung cancers, hyperthyroidism, immune breakdowns and neurodegenerative issues.
The tricky debate is how many of these conditions are directly attributed to passive smoking and not as an accumulative effect of the modern world and environment we live in.
We know that the air quality in cities is not as fresh as it is in the country, and that toxins are in the air we breathe.
Look at any dog waiting calmly at the traffic lights with its owner and you notice that the mutt’s nose is closer to the car exhausts than the human’s by its side.
We impose as many health risks on our pets as we do on ourselves. From carbon monoxide in exhaust fumes to bowls of drinking water containing chlorine and metals, these animals are at our mercy.
Smoking is an individual choice, and one that is less and less fashionable. The local dog groomer admits that there are a couple of bichons who reek of nicotine when brought in for a trim and blow dry. Makes you wonder how many nights are spent sitting on a sofa watching Emmerdale whilst inhaling a packet of low tar or menthol?
And the same must go for cats.
On the subject of cars, our bull breeds, Molly and Matilda love a journey. To travel with absolutely no effort suits their lazy natures.  They’re not particular about what make or model of a car, although London black cabs are a particular favourite of Molly’s and Matilda likes her chauffeur driven Mini – but to be honest as long as it moves they are quite happy.
So we were amused when we recently met a Labrador who would only travel in his owner’s Bentley and refused to get into their BMW.
After a great deal of canine counseling  (money obviously not being an issue) it was put down to anxiety and the fact that the dog had grown up with the Bentley. The introduction of the BMW represented the great unknown and the dog was having none of it and refused to change brands.
It can take a bit of training to get Fido to enjoy travelling in a motor. The trick is to start with start with a stationary vehicle and build journey times slowly. Be aware not to unwittingly praise any unwanted behavior such as whining, barking or chewing the seats!
Get them used to travelling in a safe dog carrier or in a seat belt. A 30KG dog takes on the weight of three baby elephants in a collision at 40 MPH!
We’ve trained our girls to enjoy sitting on the passenger seat of our mini buckled up safely in a special seat belt for dogs. With the window open.
But to be honest, one trip down the Euston road is probably the equivalent of smoking a packet of untipped!
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £

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