As new pet owners, the idea of driving with your dog in the car can be intimidating and a bit scary. What if the dog distracts you and something happens? What if you suddenly have to hit the break and the dog gets injured? These are all questions that every dog owner has to tackle, and we want to be a good resource for you all. We hope by providing you with some answers and resources, we can help make this exciting new stage of your life as worry-free as possible so you can fully experience the joys of driving with your furry friend!
What Not to Do
Seating Your Pup in an Airbag Equipped Passenger Seat: The American Kennel Club emphasizes the fact that airbags have not been engineered for dogs, but they were specifically designed to save a human life. So, they could do serious damage to your animal if deployed while they’re sitting in the passenger seat. If your passenger seat doesn’t come with an airbag, please make sure to have a way to secure your dog in its seat so it won’t move around in case of an emergency.
Driving with Your Dog In Your Lap: While the idea of driving around with your dog sitting on your lap is great, in reality it’s one of the most dangerous places that your animal can be. Your dog might be looking out the window, and in turn will block your blind spot, making it even more of a risk to change lanes. It’s also likely that your pet will become a distraction, for example you may take your eyes off the road for a moment to move your dog. And in those few seconds, something bad might happen.
Keeping the Dog in a Hot Car: We know this one for most people is a no-brainer, but it’s important to talk about, especially because the weather tends to be so hot in the area. If you need to go for a grocery run or just run errands, it can be tempting to bring your furry friend with you. But if it’s a hot day, or even mildly hot, we promise it’s absolutely not worth it. Dogster.com writes that on a day of 72 degrees, within one hour, your car could heat up to 116 degrees. And at that point, having your window down doesn’t do anything to cool down your pet.
Leave Your Dog Unrestricted: In the same way that driving with your pup in your lap can divert your attention from the road, letting your dog roam free within your vehicle can be really distracting. The dog may be jumping over seats, scratching your nice carpet or seating, or just generally creating a mess, all things that get your attention. Also, in the case of an accident, being unrestricted leaves your pooch vulnerable to potentially deadly scenarios. The same rules apply to truck beds as well: your dog could jump out and onto a busy road, and it can also be a super stressful experience because the dog will have no security.
What You Can Do
Use a Harness/Seat Belt: There are a plethora of amazing harness/seat belt products that will keep your precious pup safe while sitting in your car. The harness attaches to the seat belt that you’ve clicked in, and will keep your dog safe and in place. The Wildest.com says that this method of restraint is best for dogs that are well-behaved dogs of any size.
Install a Back Seat Hammock: If your pooch is prone to car anxiety or needs to be able to lay down, a back seat hammock is a great option. The fabric walls create a crate-like environment, which can be soothing for your dog. It’s also a comfortable arrangement if you plan on driving for long periods of time because your dog can sprawl out. You can also attach your dog to a seat belt harness thanks to the handy slits in the fabric.
Crates: Crates are another solution for any dog that tends to be anxious or on edge while on the road. With blankets and beds inside, the coziness of a crate can make it a lot easier for your dog to fall asleep. If your furry friend tends to bark at passing cars or dogs, this can obviously be a dangerous distraction. But with a crate, you can drape a blanket over it, blocking your dog’s view and keeping them and yourself more calm. Crates are also a great option for a truck bed. You can easily secure the crate and create a great environment for your pup as you drive to your destination.
Carry Boxes/Booster Seats: Perfect for small dogs, a carry box can be the ideal solution for any car anxiety. The soft interior of the box soothes your dog, and also is a great sleeping place. If your dog is the type that needs to see your face at all times in order to feel safe, you can purchase an elevated style of box, which allows them to constantly have a view of you. Most carry boxes and booster seats are compatible with harness seat belts, so you don’t have to worry about your pet being secure.