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We love car travel with our dogs, whether it’s on vacation, a doggie day trip or just to the bank’s drive-through window. But safety has to take priority on every trip, no matter how short. Here’s a list of seven deadly sins that you need to make sure you and your dog never commit:
Ride without being secured in the car.
We all buckle up our seat belts out of habit. Please make securing your dog inside your car a habit as well. The ride will be safer not only for your dog but for you and your passengers as well because, in the case of a sudden stop or accident, your unsecured dog becomes a projectile. Whether you opt for a pet booster seat for your small dog, a secured crate, or, like us, harnesses and seat belts for your dog, please make sure your dog is secure and safe in your car.
Ride with his head out the window.
Yes, we know dogs like to have their heads out the window of a moving car. They love it, in fact. And children would probably like to ride on the hood of the car, too, but that’s just not up for discussion, right? This is the same thing. As responsible pet parents, we have to just say no to this one. An unsecured dog is at risk of falling out a moving vehicle. Even if your dog is secured, he’s at risk of getting an insect (or a rock!) embedded in his eye. In college, I had an insect wing get embedded in my left eye while driving with the window down. The insect wing had to be cut out of my eyeball. It’s just not worth the risk to your dog’s health. If you absolutely must let your dog poke his head out the window, please invest in a pair of Doggles and be sure your dog is wearing them and is secured in the car.
Ride in Your Lap.
I’m old enough to remember children riding in the front seat in their mother’s laps. Now no one would think of letting children in their lap yet many people sit in the front seat–and even in the driver’s seat–with their dog in their lap. It’s illegal in several states with proposed legislation in other states–but you don’t have to rely on a law to do the right thing for both you and your dog. Please secure your dog in his own seat.
Sit in the Passenger Seat.
The weight of your dog in the passenger seat will signal to the corresponding air bag that it needs to deploy in the case of an accident, possibly injuring (or worse) your dog with its 200 mph force when it suddenly deploys. If you put your small dog in the passenger seat, he needs to be up on a booster seat that doesn’t apply any weight to the seat itself. Some cars have on-off switches for the passenger air bags as well. In general, though, the back seat is the safest place for your dog!
Remain in the Car Unattended.
Please don’t leave your dog alone in the car. It’s illegal to leave a dog in the car in some locations due to the number of dogs that die every year from extreme heat. It only takes minutes for the temperatures to rise to deadly levels in your car, even with cracked windows. Even if you think it’s cool enough for your dog, please don’t take this chance, Also, you’re leaving your dog open to the risk of theft, either of your dog or of your car. (Just think how many cars are stolen every year!) Plan your trips so that you can either take your dog with you or leave your dog safely at home.
Ride in the Bed of a Pickup.
Thankfully this is becoming illegal in more and more states but it’s not against the law everywhere. Just don’t do it…ever…
Stand on the Console Between Seats.
Dogs in the back seat (even secured dogs) can sometimes reach that console between the front seats, putting their front feet up there to ask for a pat. In doing so, though, they distract you from your driving. Train your dog not to put his feet on that console or restrain him so that he can’t reach that area. We know if your car is small and your dog is large, that’s not always possible, though. There is a product from Kurgo called Auto Grass that quickly secures around your console with plastic buckles and discourages your dog from putting those front feet up on the console (or from crawling up into the front seat, if unsecured).
Just a few minutes of pre-trip preparation can make your trip safe for both you AND your dog!