Advice for Driving With Dogs in Your Car

Advice for driving with dogs in your car

Everyone can close their eyes and picture it: a car cruising down the highway, windows down, and a happy dog hanging out the window, tongue out and ears blowing in the wind. The thing a lot of people don’t realize is that traveling with a pet is a lot more complicated than that. Check out some of our tips and advice to make traveling with your furry companion safe, easy and enjoyable.

Roll up those windows:

Despite the image of a dog hanging its head out of the window and enjoying the ride, this is actually a bad idea. Not only does hanging out of the window leave your pup in danger of being hit by flying litter or debris, and at high enough speeds this can be incredibly dangerous. Not only this, but the continuous rush of air can cause damage to a dog’s respiratory system. It’s okay to leave the windows cracked so that your pooch can enjoy the exciting new smells along the drive, keep them mostly up to prevent the harmful effects of hanging out the window.

Seatbelts and restraints aren’t just for people:

Just like you wouldn’t want your children riding without a seatbelt, you should always make sure that your dog is properly restrained. There are specially made harnesses that can connect to the seatbelts already in your car, and will allow your dog some room to move around while still keeping both it and you safe. In addition to keeping your dog securely in place, many dogs may find comfort in the feeling of the harness around their body. If you drive a wagon, SUV or minivan, you could also choose to invest in a gate that will separate the cargo area from the back seat. Our sources at DCH Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Temecula say that these gates will allow the dog to move around in the back with a little more freedom, and still be kept securely in a protected space. You can even lay down a dog bed on the cargo floor to give your pet a comfortable place to lay down, and to protect your vehicle’s interior from fur and stains.

Condition your dog to enjoy the car:

Much like you can train your dog to sit and stay, you can train your dog to be comfortable with car rides. Start by simply familiarizing them with the vehicle. Without going anywhere, just let them experience the smells and feel of the car, particularly the back seat or cargo area where they will be riding. Build your way up to longer trips by taking short rides to dog parks or friends’ houses, and accompany every car trip with a treat. Creating an association between the car and treats or fun places will make your dog excited to jump in, as opposed to a dog that only gets in the car to go to the vet.

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Prep your car:

When you get a new pet, you prepare your house, getting a bed, water dish, food, treats, toys, and all of the other things you might need to make your new companion feel at home. You should also do this with your car. Keeping a bed or blanket in the car, or having one that you always remember to bring along when driving your dog, can make them feel more at home, as can allowing them to bring along a favorite toy. You should also bring along some backup supplies such as food and water, as well as a dish. Even if you’re only planning on a brief trip, plans can change and it’s always a good idea to have some extra supplies in case you need them. In addition to making preparations to keep your pet comfortable, you can take precautions such as purchasing seat covers and floor mats to keep your vehicle’s interior clean and safe from shedding hair and other pet messes.

Some areas have specific laws and rules regarding driving with pets in your car, so you should familiarize yourself with regulations in your area, or in areas, you’re planning on traveling through. No matter what laws are in place, however, certain things are always a good idea. Make sure your pet is restrained in some way, and that they cannot climb into the driver or front passenger seat, for both your safety and theirs. Keep windows rolled up high enough that your dog can’t stick its head out and risk injury. Finally, never leave your pet in your parked car, particularly in warm or cold temperatures. Even on a moderately hot day and with the windows cracked, the temperature inside of a vehicle can become extremely warm, and conversely, on a cold day, the vehicle’s interior can reach very low temperatures. It is never safe to leave your dog in a parked car. Keep these tips in mind, and keep your canine companion safe, comfortable and healthy while on the road.

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