5 Tips for Driving With Dogs
“Want to go in the car?” Ears perk up. Tails wiggle and wag. A furry celebration ensues.
From their loyal companionship to their bright-eyed love for new people and places, dogs make wonderful copilots for adventures on the road. And not unlike their human counterparts, pups have special health and safety considerations when they jump in your car. Here’s a peek at a few ways to keep your furry friends happily cruising whether you’re traveling across the country – or just to the corner store.
Bark in back. Just like small children, all dogs are safer traveling in the back of the car. Airbags in the front passenger seat can be unsafe no matter what breed, size, or how well behaved your dog is.
Restrict roaming. The best way to protect your pooch on the go? Skip letting them roam freely in your car. That’s where special equipment can help keep curious paws from wandering.
- Transport crates/carriers. Check that the one you’re buying is well-ventilated, made of crash-tested materials, and the right size for your pup. (A general rule of thumb is that the crate should be six inches longer than your dog’s body.) Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for securing the crate. In some instances it’s actually safer not to strap it down, so it’s best to check.
- Seatbelt harnesses. While dog harnesses look a lot like human seatbelts, many aren’t actually guaranteed for safety. They act more like glorified leashes that keep your pup from climbing into the cockpit. Instead, check that the harness you buy has certified crash test ratings. (Oh, and skip zip line or long extension tethers which can be dangerous.)
Not sure which safety devices are best for your four-legged friend? From safety research to recall info, the Center For Pet Safety is a great place to weigh your options.
Stock up on essentials. Already packing a car kit for yourself? Besides emergency supplies and snacks for your crew, pack extra doggie waste bags, a little dog food and a few gallons of water in case your furry friend needs a pick-me-up along the way. Bonus points for bringing an old towel to wipe wet paws!
Stay close. Many dogs love being in the car with their owners, but it’s different to be left alone in one. Don’t leave your dog in the car on a hot day – even if the windows are down. Dogs feel heat differently than we do, and heat can increase quickly in a confined space.
Pet stops. Just like you need to stretch your legs on longer road trips – your furball does too. Keep tails wagging by stopping along the way for a quick romp, food and water, and a good old-fashioned belly rub.