On a scale from one to 10, most dogs would put riding in a car somewhere at 12 just between belly rubs and squeaky toys! And most pet owners also love to ride with their furry friends—they are fun travel companions. But, not many owners stop and really think about the safety risks they and their dogs are exposed to when riding together, so here are some things you should NEVER do.
Training Is Crucial
A well-trained dog will always be much safer in the car than a dog without any car-behavior training. No matter if you’re working with your new puppy or your faithful companion of many years, it’s best to start with slow and gradual training from getting used to being around the car and the sound of its engine to getting in and out of the vehicle. Once your dog is at ease with those few steps, you can go for a short ride around the block. Increase the distance slowly as your dog learns his place in the car and how to behave properly. This training will keep both of you much safer.
Don’t let your dog roam freely in the car
Dogs that roam freely in the car are a huge danger. This is the same as letting your toddler ride in the car without a booster seat and seatbelt! Plus, if you happen to get into an accident, even your tiny Chihuahua will turn into a forceful projectile that can injure you and other passengers. Dogs wandering around are also quite distracting for the driver, so keep him in the back with a car seatbelt for dogs or let him rest in his crate. Dogs should never sit on the front seat or ride in your lap.
Don’t go anywhere without your dog’s necessity bag
You never leave your home without keys, your phone, and your wallet, so you shouldn’t let your dog out without packing at least a few necessities. Water is a must, so always keep a bowl and a bottle of fresh water in the car. You also need some snacks to use as a reward and some plastic bags for poop. If you’re going on a long car trip with your dog consider packing more things, like his favorite comfort items, a blanket, and some toys. It’s also a good idea to have some grooming supplies in his necessity bag. Hopefully, you already have a first-aid kit in your car in case your dog gets hurt on the road.
Don’t choose unapproved equipment
Most pet stores out there have a variety of different equipment for dogs, but not all of that equipment is approved by the Center for Pet Safety. This program is voluntary, but if you get the gear that’s approved, it means it went through various tests that ensure its safety and durability.
Don’t leave your dog in the car
Even if you leave your window open and supply your dog with enough water, your car can quickly turn into an oven when the weather is hot. On a scorching day (over 85 degrees F or 30 degrees C) the temperature can skyrocket to whopping 116°F or 46°C in only ten minutes! Temperatures this high can cause brain damage or death fairly quickly.
Don’t ignore car sickness
Many dogs that hate cars just suffer from motion sickness. If your dog doesn’t like driving around with you, don’t ignore it! There are anti-nausea meds for dogs your vet can prescribe. Also, pack a good amount of rags, poop bags, and cleaning solutions.
Don’t let your dog hang his head out the window
So many dogs love driving with their head out the window. However, this is not only dangerous for your pup, but also for other vehicles on the road. Driving with a cracked window is great, but don’t open it all the way down. Your dog can get hit with flying objects or worse, jump out.
Don’t forget the identification
Every time you leave the house, make sure your dog is wearing a tagged collar that holds all of his important information, like your home address and phone number. This will come in handy in case your dog runs away.
Just like you follow all household safety tips, you also have to follow these car safety tips. With these in mind, you will always have a fun, relaxing, and safe ride with your dog!
Ian Lewis is a father and a proud owner of a dog named Eddard. He’s interested in camping, reading, and all things DIY. You can find him on Twitter.