Traveling Safely By Car With Your Dog
by: Ron Ayalon
When we think of dogs going with us for rides in the car, most of us get the same image: a group of dogs or one, riding with his head out the window, tongue hanging down as he captures every drop of air, blissfully enjoying the wind in his face. Most of us smile when we see this. But did you know that this is not safe for him, or for you, the driver? Below you will find information to educate you about the benefits of safe travel, and some tips to help you avoid needless stress, injury, or worse.
Why be safe with your dog in the car? Isn't he a safe just sitting in the back?
It is always a good idea to be safe in the car with any animal. Accidents can happen and just like people, animals can become severely injured or die in car accidents if they are not properly looked after. While he may be sitting easily on your backseat for now, if you have to stop suddenly, he may find himself thrown around and into something dangerous or into you. A nervous or excitable dog may try to climb his way into the front seat with you, causing an accident.
So what options do you have for traveling safely?
As the dog owner, you have a surprising array of products designed to help you travel safely. Here are just a few:
• If your vehicle is big enough, a crate or pet carrier is the ideal choice. It will limit your dog's mobility, while providing him or her with protection and comfort. Just be sure to secure it once it is inside the car.
• Seatbelts and harnesses - If you don't like the idea of crating your dog, a doggie seatbelt or harness is another option. This will keep him in one place while the car is in motion and prevent him from getting injured in a sudden stop. These connect up with the car's pre-existing belt configuration and so they are surprisingly easy to use.
• Car seats - If you have a smaller dog, a car seat is a great option. It provides safety and comfort similar to the harness, but in a seat. Like car seats for babies, these hook up easily into the car. And as is the case with all car seats, a height and weight restriction means that unfortunately your 65 pound German Shepherd or 100+ pound Bull Mastiff won't enjoy the benefits of this seat.
• A divider with one of the above - A simple dividing object between the front and back seats will prevent your dog from interrupting your driving, but does little to secure him. If you choose to use a divider, please also use some method of restraint.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make your next car ride safer. But there are a few common sense tips to keep in mind during any outing in a vehicle with your dog:
• Always have tags on your dog and/or a microchip. Should your dog run away during an accident or for any other reason, it will be easier for others to return him to you.
• Get your dog used to car travel if he is nervous, especially before a big trip. Short trips while 'assisting' you to the grocery store or the neighbor's house is an easy start. A trip to the Vet's office or in the event of emergency shouldn't be his first ride in the car.
• If your dog gets carsick, feed him a few hours before leaving and feed him minimally (if at all) on the road.
• If you must take a truck, have the dog in the cab with you and use a seatbelt, or place him in a crate. Using similar tie downs you would use to secure any heavy object, such as furniture (ones with either clamps or clips), tie the crate tightly to the truck bed to prevent it from sliding or falling. More deaths happen every year because dogs jump or are thrown out of truck beds.
If you follow these simple and easy tips and steps, traveling with your dog will not only be loads of fun, but safe. Fill your vacation with happy memories, not stress and worry or disaster.