Research out of the United Kingdom has found motorists take more care on the road and are less stressed behind the wheel when driving with their pet dog in the car.
The study, conducted by the UK arm of Spanish car maker SEAT, surveyed 2000 dog-owning licence holders and found 54 per cent of respondents drove more carefully when they had their pet in the car.
Having their pet as a passenger also aided stress levels, with 35 per cent of those surveyed saying they felt calmer with their dog in the car.
Younger drivers in particular took their pet's safety seriously, with 69 per cent of those aged 18-24 admitting to being extra cautious in the presence of their pet pooch, compared with 45 per cent of respondents over 55 who said the same.
However, the research also found a concerning lack of awareness around the safety of dogs in cars, with a third of dog-owning drivers admitting they were unsure whether there were any rules around travelling with dogs in the car, while a fifth said they didn't restrain their pets at all.
In Australia, it's illegal to drive with your pet on your lap and there are fines, demerit point penalties and even possible jail time if your pet is injured as a result of not being properly restrained.
"Not only is it illegal for pets to sit on drivers' laps, it also isn't safe, for you or your pet," an NRMA spokesperson said.
"It's important to keep your furry friend safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier... Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in.
"In all states across Australia, it is an offence to drive with your pet on your lap and if on a motorbike, your pet mustn't ride between the handlebars and the rider.
"Also, fines can exceed $400 and you can receive three demerit points if caught. If an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, the fines and penalties increase dramatically under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including jail time."
The NRMA rescues over 1500 pets from locked cars every year, while a RSPCA spokesperson told CarAdvice a key concern for the animal welfare body was ensuring motorists "never leave your dog unattended in a car, no matter the temperature".
A RSPCA spokesperson also said the UK study results were unsurprising there was plenty of research showing the positive connection between owning a pet and overall mental health and wellbeing.
"We’ve long loved dogs for being man’s best friend, but not so well known is that our pets can actually make us physically and mentally healthier. Just the presence of our pets can lift our spirits and help us relax," Mhairi Roberts, Policy and Advocacy Manager at RSPCA Victoria, said.
"Research has shown that owning a pet can have a number of psychological benefits: Those who have pets including children or adolescents have been shown to have higher self-esteem. Teenagers who own pets have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness, despair and boredom.
"Every year, the RSPCA receives a high volume of calls regarding dogs trapped in hot cars. Temperatures in a car can rise to dangerous levels and can rapidly reach more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. If you are travelling with your dog, it’s critical that you never leave them unattended in the car, regardless of the weather outside."