Going on a road trip with your dog? You need to keep them safe and comfortable just as you would do for your child. Dogs will naturally get nervous when riding in a car for the first time. Even if it’s not their first time, they’ll still get too excited that they can distract you from driving safely. Apart from putting yourself at risk, the nervousness or the excitement can also put the dog at risk. Ensure both of you are safe and comfortable throughout the ride by practicing these simple tips.
Keep Them Contained
Just like you buy safety car seats for your toddlers, dogs also need such kind of security. You need to consider buying them a comfortable barrier ahead of your travel. If you have a small dog, a comfortable pet carrier will work well for you. Crates allow dogs and puppies to feel secure, especially in a potentially scary environment for your furry friend. Crates or carriers will keep them contained in one place so that they don’t interfere with your driving by running from one seat to another and barking at other cars through the window. Containing your dog in a carrier also protects them from injuries in case you suffer an accident.
Get Them Used to the Car
Getting your dog used to the car is a good strategy of ensuring they don’t get nervous or too excited when on the ride. If well-trained, dogs will not be afraid of cars; neither will they interfere with your driving. Start by getting them in the car and treating them to some dog snacks as they ride around the neighborhood. Improve this gradually by driving with them a short distance to the dog park or any other fun place. With time, your dog will start associating cars with good things such as treats and parks. They will get used to the rides in a few weeks of training. If well trained, your dogs will start enjoying the rides and will stay calm throughout a long trip.
Feed Them Lightly Before Riding
You need to ensure your dog is fed before you embark on a journey. However, don’t overfeed them because this can cause discomfort during your trip. A good rule of thumb is to feed them six hours before the trip. Minimize on water and other liquids so that you avoid a full bladder. Light feeding will help you minimize bathroom breaks. Also, don’t feed your dog on a moving vehicle because this can increase their chances of getting sick. If they get hungry in the middle of the journey, you can take breaks to feed them. This means you must carry some dry food and water.
Never Leave Them Alone in the Car
Sometimes you might want to have your bathroom breaks, take a stretch, or grab a bite. Whatever the case, don’t leave your dog in the car. First, the interior of your vehicle can get hot, especially during summer, and this can suffocate the dog. If the weather is too chilly, packed cars get extremely cold and end up freezing your dog. If you reside in states where it’s illegal to leave animals unattended, you might find yourself in trouble with authorities. Think about those instances where a Good Samaritan breaks your car window to rescue your dog. You don’t want to risk such damages.
Get Them Inside
Sometimes your dog may get too excited that they want to ride with the head or hands outside the window. You might be tempted to let them enjoy the experience, but this is risky for their safety. They can easily get scratched by other vehicles or get hit by flying objects. Sometimes they can even jump out of the window if they see something exciting or scary. Let the small ones ride in a cage and belt the bigger ones.
Let Them Ride in the Back Seat
The dog might become too playful and end up jumping from the back seat to front. They sometimes want to cuddle or sleep in your laps. This is not safe for driving and can cause accidents. Stay safe by ensuring your dog remains in the backseat throughout the journey. You can also put them in the cargo area if it’s spacious and well-ventilated. Even if you have a passenger, don’t let them ride on the laps because this can still put them in danger. Make sure they have a comfortable crate or a safety restraint if you’re driving a long distance so that they don’t jump around all over the place.
You might not get tired easily because you’re probably used to the ride. However, all this is new for your furry friend. If you’re traveling for a long trip, make a point of taking regular breaks so that both of you can get fresh air. Stop at a secure location such as a gas station and stretch yourself by jogging or walking around. You can also take this opportunity to take a bathroom break or eat some snacks.
Understand the Law
Several states have laid down rules that dictate how you must handle your pets when traveling. These rules vary with state and if you intend to drive to a different state, make a point of finding out what the laws in the other state are. Understand how they differ from the ones you’re used to. Carry out a research all the rules and regulations regarding riding in a car with your dog. If the law states that your dog should be in a carrier, make sure you do that even if your dog is the calmest in the car. Just ensure you don’t fall in the wrong arm of the law because you might end up losing your furry friend or parting ways with huge fines.
Traveling with your dog will be fun if you learn to treat him like a child. The same way you ensure your comfort and needs, consider the needs of the dog as well. Understand that even well-trained dogs can get stressed on long-distance trips. Prepare for this ahead of time and carry out thorough research in everything you may need so you can both enjoy your trip.
Here’s another great article: Bad Driving Habits You Should Avoid