Halfords has appointed its first ‘Bark & Ride’ specialist as sales of canine car travel products rose by up to 908 per cent following the pandemic ‘puppy boom’. The appointment comes as over half of Brits (52 per cent) plan to travel with their new pet this summer – a demand that has seen the brand train over 1,500 colleagues in providing staycation travel advice, and a further 1,500 in pet travel advice across 404 stores.

The announcement follows new research by Halfords revealing over a third of dog owners bought or adopted their pup in the last 18 months, with the motivations for doing so including wanting to feel less lonely (16 per cent), spending more time at home during lockdown (14 per cent) and flexible working making it possible (13 per cent).

Only 4 in 10 (43 per cent) said they ‘completely understand’ how to travel safely with their dog in the car, and a fifth (20 per cent) of dog owners who travel with their dog in the car don’t think it would be adequately protected in the event of a car accident.

The survey of 1,000 dog owners also saw 79 per cent admit that their dog isn’t always strapped in or harnessed whenever they travel with them in the car, meaning that they are at risk of serious injury in the event of an accident. Almost a fifth (18 per cent) claim that they usually just sit in the backseat of the car and 1 in 10 dog owners let their dog sit on their own lap or that of a passenger when travelling in the car with them.

Commenting on the research findings, Dr Edward Hayes, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club, the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training, said: “As lockdown ends and we can travel further afield with our four-legged friends, it’s important that all drivers are fully up to speed on how to make sure their dog stays safe in the car.”

Halfords’ ‘Bark & Ride’ specialist has been tasked with leading the brand’s expertise in pet travel – whether that’s helping customers find the necessary pet travel accessories or organising a roof box installation so they can safely travel with your dog and luggage.

Emily Hussey, Assistant Buyer for Travel Equipment and the first ‘Bark & Ride’ specialist at Halfords, shares her top tips for anyone looking to travel with their dog this summer:

  1. One of the most important things to keep in mind when travelling with your pet in the car is ensuring they are strapped in or secured, whether this be a seatbelt style harness or a comfortable crate or cage. It may seem obvious, but Halfords research found that 51% of people don’t have a safety harness or safety device for their pet.
  1. Long journeys can be stressful for pets, which is why keeping the car comfortable should be a key consideration for pet friendly car travel. Dogs need fresh air and a cool environment, so making sure that the air conditioning in the car is in top shape is a must ahead of any trip. Halfords offers an Air Con Diagnostic check at most UK stores and garages.
  1. Almost a fifth of people worry that their dog will be uncomfortable during long journeys, and a packed car can make it difficult to create a safe and happy environment for your pooch. If you’re tight on space due to passengers, luggage and your pet, installing a roof box can be a great idea to free up some space in the backseat or boot. At Halfords, our experts are trained to help you pick the best box for your needs, and can even help you fit it ahead of your journey!

The popularity of pet travel products has soared in the last year, with Halfords seeing a 908 per cent increase in the sale of car harness connector straps, a 809 per cent increase in seat covers and a 757 per cent rise in car harnesses.

The business has also seen a strong performance across camping and touring categories driven by customers gearing up for staycations this summer, with roof bars and roof boxes up 205 per cent and 519 per cent respectively year-on-year. Customers are also benefiting from our fitting services offered in store, with a 252 per cent increase in demand for touring fitting.

For more info and tips on pet-friendly travel visit www.halfords.com/motoring/advice/bark-and-ride/.