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Safety tips for traveling with dogs

It’s a fact: dogs love car rides! A quick excursion to the grocery store or a long family trip across state lines can be a dog’s greatest adventure. They sit up, taking in the world around them, wagging their tails.

Of course, dogs, like infants and kids, are your family members. And much like there’s a safe way to transport children in a car, there’s a safe way for your dog to travel too.

So here are the do’s and don’ts for transporting your favorite furry family member in a car.

Doggy do’s
1. Keep your pets in a well-ventilated crate or carrier

The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around in. Make sure you secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift during a sudden stop.

2. Set up a gate or dog guard between the backseat or storage area

This is a smart solution if you’re driving with 2 dogs. Especially if they don’t get car sick. But just to be safe, you can always add a waterproof liner to protect your car.

3. Use pet seatbelts and restraining harnesses

These are a good alternative to crates because they work in tandem with human seatbelts and can be adjusted for the dog’s size. Plus some of them even come with bed-like boxes, so your pooch can sit up high.  

4. Practice car rides with anxious dogs

Start with just sitting in the car with your dog, without the engine running. Then the next time, turn on the engine and drive around the corner. Next time, a short drive. And so on, until they’re ready.

5. Pack plenty of treats and fresh water.

Because we all know a hungry dog is an unhappy dog.

Doggy don’ts

1. Don’t put your dog in the front passenger seat

Front-facing airbags are great for adults but can do some serious harm to your pup.

2. Don’t let your dog stick its head (or any body part) out the window

The risk here is not just debris and litter hitting your dog’s face, but cold, chilly air, which can harm your dog’s respiratory system. Leave the window down just a smidge so they can still smell.

3. Don’t let your pup roam free in a truck bed

Each year, thousands of dogs are killed while in a truck bed, mostly from falling out or being hit by road rubbish. Currently, 6 states (CA, CT, ME, MA, NH, and RI) have legislation to prevent dogs from being in the back of an open-bed vehicle. Slightly less restrictive, California prohibits transporting any animal in the open vehicle back on a highway unless the vehicle has sides that extend 46″ vertically, or the animal is secured in a cage and cross-tethered to prevent it from jumping out of the vehicle.

4. Don’t let your dog sit in your lap while you’re driving

Lap sitting can interfere with the driver’s control of the car. In fact, Hawaii has a strict law to prevent dogs literally from being in the driver’s seat. 

5. Don’t leave your pet in the car alone … even for a few minutes

Dogs die in hot cars, freeze in the cold, and can have separation anxiety. In fact, 16 U.S. states have specific “hot car” laws to protect dogs from harm in warm weather conditions. So just take your pup inside with you when you stop or leave them at home.


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