Let’s face it: we are bombarded with images of dogs enjoying the wind in their fur as they ride down the highway with their head out the window. We all see the joy that dogs get in sticking their head out the window of a moving car so it’s a natural question as to whether it’s a good idea or not.
The short answer: it is NOT good to allow your dog to put his head out the window of your car.
For all the pleasure he may get out of it, you’re endangering his life by allowing him to put his head out the window of the moving car.
But there are safe alternatives to let your dog enjoy the sensation of fresh air and scents while keeping him safe as you travel together on day trips or errands.
Why Do Dogs Like to Put Their Head Out the Car Window?
There’s no denying that dogs love to ride with their head out the window.
Why do dogs stick their head out the window? They enjoy the sensation of the wind blowing through their fur and on their face. Dogs, of course, have a highly sensitive sense of smell, and the wind carries a lot of scents that they find interesting and exciting.
Another reason dogs stick their head out of the window is to take in their surroundings. Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they enjoy exploring and experiencing new things. When they stick their head out of the window, they can see and smell things that they wouldn’t be able to from inside the car.
Why It’s Dangerous for Your Dog to Ride with His Head Out the Car Window
But that fun comes with risks–a lot of them.
The potential dangers are numerous:
- your dog could lean too far and fall out the car. We’ve seen so many cars with the window fully lowered and the dog standing on the door, a terrible and probably fatal accident just waiting to happen.
- he could suddenly jump from the car when you’re stopped if you have left the window down. (And while I know that many of you will say you only leave the window down enough for your dog’s head to go out the window, just this afternoon I saw a dog’s head and chest all the way out while the window was completely lowered.) As much as you might trust your dog’s training, do you really want to put it to the test? If you’re at a stop and your dog sees a squirrel, are you 100% positive he will not try to jump from the car?
- you could suddenly have to stop (or be hit) and he could fall out of the car.
- he could get a bug or other object embedded in his eye. Even the smallest particle becomes a projectile in a moving car and could cause him to lose his eye. I can say this with first-person knowledge. In college, I was driving with the window down when an insect flew in and embedded itself in my left eyeball. I had to have the insect literally cut from my eyeball. I was lucky; other than the pain, my vision wasn’t impacted but things could have ended much differently.
- your car could suddenly be sideswiped, crushing your dog between the two cars.
- you could lose control of the car and hit an object (or not see an object that’s protruding) with the side of the car where he’s riding unprotected.
Safe Alternatives to Letting Your Dog Put His Head Out the Window
Instead of letting your dog put his head out the window, just crack the rear windows slightly so he gets the breeze and all the smells that come along with it.
He’ll still have the sensation of a lowered window but won’t be at risk for the above dangers. (To prevent overheating in warm weather, be sure the air-conditioner is on and getting to his part of the car as well.)
One warning: be sure the rear windows are LOCKED. Many dogs–including our Tiki–quickly learn how to lower automatic windows!
Another option, if your dog is safely secured with a dog seatbelt that doesn’t provide a tether long enough for him to get his head out the window, is to buckle your dog in the back seat and lower the back window so the air is blowing on him–but the seatbelt prevent your dog from getting his head out the window.
You’ll all ride a lot safer…and a safe ride is the REAL joy of every car trip!