Dogs are more than pets; they're friends, and companions. That's why, more and more often, people choose to bring them when they travel. While your dogs will love to be included in your travel plans, there are some basic safety tips you should follow when you bring them within the car. These tips are provided by The American Humane Association and Consumer Reports.
Tip #1: Show Proper Restraint
Even dogs who are typically well-behaved in the car need to be properly restrained when you're driving. Loose dogs are a distraction to the driver, but worse, they're at risk in the event you have to slam on the brakes, or get into an accident. That's why it's important to choose the right restraints for your dog.
If you have a large enough vehicle (or a small enough dog), a crate is the best choice. Crates can be easily secured, and they can be accessorized to help your dog deal with the trip. It also keeps them secure, and provides additional protection while you're on the road. If a crate isn't an option, there are seat belt modifiers you can use to strap in your pooch to make sure your traveling companion is safe, and as comfortable as possible.
Tip #2: Start Small
Not all dogs love car trips, and even ones who do may get anxious over a short period of time. You can't just take a dog who's used to roaming the yard and house at-will all day long, and expect him or her to be all right in a car for hours on end. So, if you're planning on long excursions, it's a good idea to start small and work your way up. This will not only increase your dog's tolerance for time spent in the car, but it will get your four-legged friend used to time spent in the crate or in a seat belt as well. As with anything else, training can have a huge effect on your overall results.
Tip #3: Bring The Necessities
Dogs are a lot like kids when it comes to spending time in the car; even well-behaved ones are going to get bored. That's why it's important to bring toys, and maybe a treat or two, in order to keep them on their best behavior. It's also important to bring a mat for your dog's comfort, towels to dry them off in the event it rains (or they decide to go swimming), and a leash so they won't run off once you let them out of the car. Lastly, never leave home without your dog's ID tags and collar. In the event of the unthinkable, you'll be able to reunite with your dog once they are found.
Tip #4: If You're Bringing Them With, Don't Leave Them Alone
The biggest risk to dogs brought on car trips is when they're left alone. Dogs shouldn't be left alone in the car, particularly when the weather is hot, as it can quickly lead to overheating, and serious health concerns. Dogs shouldn't be left in the beds of pickup trucks either; being in the bed is a serious risk. Dogs should never be tethered in a car when they're alone, either, since the halter presents a serious choking hazard.
If you're going on a trip with your dog, then make sure you plan your route so you can stop at places where you can bring your dog with you. Pet-friendly hotels, rest stops, and attractions are all a necessity if you're traveling with a canine. Of course, it never hurts to bring a second human with, just so there's always someone with your dog.