Traveling safely with your dog, whether road tripping or just a quick drive to the dog park, needs some considerations to keep everyone in your vehicle safe! Think about the following before you ask your dog “Want to go for a car ride?!”:
Not all dogs enjoy car travel. If you’re planning a long road trip and your dog gets upset with car travel, train your dog to enjoy it. Begin a conditioning program by placing your dog in your vehicle and starting it up. Turn on the heat (or air conditioning) and maybe the radio too! Be sure to give your dog lots of praise and a treat or two. Repeat this for a few days until your dog happily hops into your vehicle. The next step is to take a short trip around the block – remember to give lots of praise. Gradually extend these trips to a 20-30-minute drive. Conditioning your dog for travel may take a few days or weeks, but eventually your dog should be become used to it. If not, speak to your veterinarian for suggestions.
Distracted driving doesn’t just apply to cell phones. A pet roaming loose in the car can easily distract the driver, especially if the pet is anxious or upset. Small pets can interfere with the operation of the vehicle if they try to get at your feet – interference of the brake and gas pedals can spell disaster.
Unrestrained dogs, even at low speeds, can become a projectile. Be sure to restrain your dog either in a crate or a harness.
- Not all harnesses will protect your dog in an accident. Look for a harness approved by the Center for Pet Safety or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
- Only certain crates should be buckled in. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for crate position and whether it should be buckled in. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
- Certain automobile manufacturers have created products for in-car pet safety. Check to see if your vehicle offers these “extras”.
Before you set out on any road trip, be sure you pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date contact information and consider microchipping your pet. If your pet is already microchipped, check to make sure that your contact information is up to date. If your pet is an anxious traveler, he may bolt out as soon as the car door is opened – another reason to ensure your pet is well restrained.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any “accidents” that may happen. Be sure to pack a “cleanup kit” containing disposable gloves, garbage bags, wipes, and a towel are good thing to keep on hand!
Bring a jug of water and a water bowl for the road trip. Long trips, especially when the sun is beating on your car, can lead to thirst and dehydration. Allow your dog to drink frequently and build in frequent stops to allow for “bathroom breaks”.
As always, never leave your pet unattended in your vehicle.
Happy Travels in 2020!