Whether you’re four-legged friend only leaves the house for trips to the vet or travels with you wherever you go, at some point every dog owner will be driving with their pet in the car. Driving with a dog in the car doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you know what you’re doing and take a few measures to prepare. Read on to see our tips for hitting the road with man’s best friend, and to make sure that both you and your dog are safe, comfortable, and happy.
Get your car ready: Just like you wouldn’t bring a pet into your home without getting a bed, food and water dishes, and some toys, you shouldn’t drive a dog around in a car that isn’t prepared for them. Having a bed or blanket in the car will make your pet feel more comfortable, and will reduce the stress that some dogs feel in the car. It can also help protect your vehicle’s interior from shedding hair and other messes, although if you really want to keep your upholstery in good shape professionals at City Buick GMC say that you should consider investing in floor mats and seat covers. No matter how long or short of a trip you’re taking, it’s a good idea to keep some spare food, water, and a leash in the car, incase plans change and you need to stay away from home for longer than you’d anticipate. Tip: If you’re feeding your dog while on a drive, pet care professionals advise that you plan on pulling over for at least half an hour. Many dogs are prone to motion sickness, and this will be amplified with a full stomach.
Acclimate your dog to driving: If you only ever take your dog in the car when going to the vet, groomer, or other potentially stressful or uncomfortable destinations, they may begin to associate car rides with negative consequences and become frightened or unmanageable. Make your dog more comfortable in the car by starting out with short drives to local parks or a friend’s house, or even just by letting them spend some time in the car in the driveway or garage, so they can see it as an extension of home. If you create an association between the car and fun trips or treats, you can train your dog to love the car as easily as you can train them to sit or stay.
Keep those windows rolled up: Although you probably have the image in your mind’s eye of a dog with its head hanging out the window, ears and tongue flapping in the wind as it takes in all of the smells and sights. In reality, though, this isn’t a great idea. The rush of air from driving at even moderate speeds can cause damage to your dog’s respiratory system over time, and hanging out the window leaves them in danger of being struck by flying litter and debris. For these same reasons, you should never drive with your dog in the bed of a pickup. Let your dog enjoy the exciting smells along the drive by leaving the windows cracked, but make sure to keep them rolled up high enough that they can’t stick their whole head or snout out.
Keep your pet secure: Seatbelts and harnesses aren’t just for people. A variety of restraint options are available to keep your dog secure while you drive, which is important for both their safety and yours. Harnesses built to connect with the existing seatbelts in your vehicle allow your pet to move about enough to get comfortable but not enough to roam through the vehicle and potentially climb into the front seat. If you drive an SUV, minivan, or wagon, you can also find gates that separate the cargo area from the rest of the vehicle. You can lay down a blanket or bed and let your dog move about and make themselves comfortable while still being contained within a secure area.