Dogs love going for rides in the car and people enjoy taking their canine companions along with them. I enjoy seeing people with their dogs in their cars, but it quickly turns to concern when I see unsafe behavior. It is very common to be driving around and see dogs with their complete heads out of the car window, dogs sitting in the drivers lap or jumping in and out of the drivers lap, dogs running around in the car jumping from the front seat to the back set, and dogs loose in the bed of pick-up trucks. These are all unsafe behaviors!
Pet owners have an obligation to travel safely with their pet. This is for the safety of the pet owner, the safety of the pet, as well as for the safety of all other drivers on the road.
A dog loose inside a car can be dangerous for the following reasons:
- A dog sitting in a drivers lap can interfere with their ability to steer the vehicle and can also block their view while driving.
- A loose dog can crawl over to the floor on the drivers side and interfere with their ability to accelerate, brake, or shift gears.
- A dog moving about in the car can take the drivers attention away from the road while they are dealing with the dog's behavior.
Common injuries to dogs riding unsafely in cars.
- A loose dog can become a flying projectile and can seriously injure themselves or the driver if they are involved in an accident or have to apply the brakes abruptly.
- If an accident occurs a loose dog can escape from the vehicle and become lost or get hit on the road.
- Flying debris can cause injury to your pets eyes if they have their own head hanging out the car window. You can leave the window down a few inches so they can stick out their snout if necessary. Check out things like window vent guards. These allow you to have the window open and still provide safety for your pet.
- Never have the window fully open. A loose dog could fall or jump out of an open car window.
- Dogs riding loose in the back of pick-up trucks can easily be thrown out of the vehicle with a quick stop or if an accident occurs.
Do not despair there are many options so your best friend can enjoy their ride and accompaniment you safely in the car.
Crating – crating is the best option if your vehicle has space for a dog crate. Make sure the crate is securely secured. In the event of any quick stops or an accident, a crate is the safest place for a dog to be in a vehicle.
Dog Seat Belts – this is the next best option if you do not have space for a crate. Dog seat belts attach to your passenger seat belts. Make sure they are snug. If the dog is able to move around too much they can become tangled. When purchasing a dog seat belt make sure to get one that attaches to a harness and not to your pets collar since this could cause serious damage to their neck.
Air bag dancers also apply to pets, so put fido in the back seat. Newer vehicles have the option to disable the front seat passenger air bag. If your vehicle has this option, you can turn the air bag off and your dog can ride safely in the front seat while wearing his dog seat belt.
Physical barriers – there are many barrier options that will keep your pet out of the front seat if you have a vehicle like a station wagon or SUV and are a good option for larger breed dogs. These will give your dog some space to move around while keeping them from interfering with you while you are driving.
Pick-up trucks – it is illegal in many states for dogs to ride loose in the back of pick-up trucks. If you want your dog to ride in the back of your pick-up truck, buy them a dog crate. Make sure the crate is securely fastened so it does not slide around. If it is hot outside attach a cover on the top of the crate so the dog will have some shade, and always make sure the dog has plenty of water.
A few additional things!
Make sure your dog has ID. If your dog is not microchipped or tattooed, make sure they are wearing an ID tag on their collar.
Always remember to have a leash with you. Even though you may not be planning to be taking your dog out of the car, circumstance may arise where you will need a leash.
Always have a small container of water and a bowl. You never know when you could be out longer than you planned or if your car should break down on a warm day it would be good to have some water for your pet.
Remember to drive safely, and keep your pet safe whenever in the car!