Dog owner. Pet parent. Dog Mom. Dog Dad. No matter how you refer to yourself, there’s no denying you love your dog. According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, 67% of U.S. households have at least 1 pet, with approximately 90 million dogs making up much of that percentage. Most dog owners would agree that their dog is a member of the family, and some even see their four-legged companion as their child.
If you’re one of those dog owners who take their fur-baby to daycare, dog parks and even on vacation, you probably use your vehicle for transporting them. Below are a few tips and tricks for safely traveling with your dog, whether it’s a few miles from your front door, or across the country.
Tips for driving with your dog
You want your dog to feel as comfortable in the car as you do. They may not understand the convenience of the automatic start or heated seats, but they do understand that sometimes the car makes them nervous. There are several things you can do to make them feel physically and emotionally more stable so they can enjoy the road ahead with you.
Battling an upset stomach.
One concern for many dog owners who are about to venture out on the road with their pup is that their dog may get carsick. There are two main reasons why your dog may get carsick: motion sickness or car-related anxiety.
If your dog tends to get carsick, do your best to avoid feeding them before a drive. If you must feed them, make it a small meal. Once you’re ready to hit the road with your pup, you’ve got to get them in the car. So, where should you put them in the car?
In order to help alleviate any discomfort for your dog, avoid putting your pup in the farthest backseat. The reason being, the very back of your car is where most of the motion occurs. The dog can only see out the side windows of the vehicle, where the blur of objects going by can cause a fuzzy visual for them.
If your dog is prone to car sickness, this is not the place to put them. Instead, move your dog closer to the front of the car. This will lessen the amount of motion your dog will experience while driving as well as provide them a forward view through the windshield.
If you’ve tried many different tactics to prevent nausea to no avail, you could also consult your veterinarian; they may prescribe an anti-nausea medication for your pooch.
If your dog is prone to car-related anxiety, don’t fret. Car-related anxiety for dogs can be caused by several things. For example, when a puppy is taken from its mother to go to the vet for shots, a negative association is formed with the car.
To help alleviate your dogs’ car-related anxiety, try to make their experience enjoyable by providing a happy ending to their time in the car. This will help them get more comfortable and excited about going on a trip with you in the car.
You may also consider bringing a favorite toy, bone or blanket to help ease their anxiety while they’re traveling with you, especially if the trip is going to be a long one.
Exercise is key.
When you are planning a trip with your dog, especially a multi-hour drive, exercise your dog before they hop in. As the saying goes, “A tired dog is a happy dog.” Therefore, exercising their ‘need for speed’ will get them nice and tuckered out before hoping in your ride.
Make sure to take breaks.
Everyone needs a break during long trips in the car, and your dog is no exception. Therefore, when you’ve got your furry friend in the car, be sure to plan regular water and bathroom stops for both of you.
For long drives, the rule of thumb is to allow time for a break every 4-6 hours for adult dogs and every 2-3 hours for older dogs.
Safest way to travel with your dog.
No one intends to be involved in an accident, but unfortunately, it can happen. So, how can you keep your dog safe while you’re behind the wheel?
We suggest either securing your dog with a seat belt that attaches to a harness, or by placing them in a crate. Not only does it prevent them from being hurt in an accident, but it will also keep you focused on the road. Being distracted by your pup is no better than being distracted by your phone.
If you have experience with crate training your dog, bringing it in the car may be your best bet. Crates can be an easy way to keep them safe and happy while you’re driving.
Harness & car-seat.
If you drive a vehicle that does not allow for a crate, there are other products that can also keep your dog safe while you’re behind the wheel. A popular option is a harness that attaches to the seat belt, but for smaller dogs, a car/booster seat is also great. However, it’s crucial to avoid attaching anything directly to your dog’s collar to avoid potential neck injuries.
What not to do.
You’ve probably seen many drivers with their dogs on their laps while they’re behind the wheel. While this may look cute, it’s unsafe for both the driver and the dog. By not having the dog secured in the car, it makes them more vulnerable to being harmed.
If you really want your dog to ride in the front seat with you, disable the passenger airbag before the trip and have them sit or lay beside you.
Above all else, NEVER put a dog in the back of an open pickup truck.
Dont forget to enjoy the road ahead!
Your dog is part of your family so it makes sense that you want them to join you wherever you go. By applying the methods above to your trip, you can ensure safe pet travel on your next road trip with your furry friend.
SafeAuto is insurance for the rest of us, and that includes you, dog lovers.