Whether you're a young driver just starting out, a pet owner heading home from your local dog rescue with the newest member of your family, or an experienced K-9 handling veteran, driving in the car with Fido can be hairy. And we're not talking about the hair your fur-baby will inevitably be decorating your car with, we're talking about the fact that our best-friends can be a major contributing factor to distracted driving.
According to the CDC, "Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver."
Traveling with your dog should be fun, and more importantly, a safe pastime. Some pups are just natural-born road-trip companions that will never make a peep during a driving journey, while many others show signs of extreme nervousness, heightened anxiety and awareness, and motion sickness. There are some important factors to consider, and steps to take before you get behind the wheel with your four-legged friends in tow to reduce your risk of becoming a distracted driver.
Try these easy tricks, tips, and handy hacks to make sure Fido doesn't climb into your lap, jump out of a window, or cause you to take your eyes off of the road.
Prevent the Overly Excited Canine Passenger
If Spot hasn't been out of the house for a while, or is known for pacing back and forth to look out of the window, a simple pre-journey walk or game of fetch can calm him right down, and turn him into a relaxed traveling companion. If you are headed straight for the car, and a walk is out of the question, reward him with a treat as soon as he sits down, and put him in a down-stay with another treat. If his brain is stimulated and he thinks he's working for another treat he is more likely to listen to commands, and complete the task. Remember to reward him as soon as you get to your destination with another treat for his great behavior. Encouraging him to stay as you open the car and secure his leash will also add to his belief that the car is a place where he is working, and can be rewarded for excellent behavior.
Install a Secure Barrier
You want to be as close to your pooch as possible at all times, unfortunately a big part of dog-car safety is about establishing boundaries and having effective barriers in place. Affordable and adjustable dog barriers ensure your pup stays exactly where they're supposed to, and won't be climbing into your lap while you drive.
Provide a Secure Environment
Making your dog feel comfortable and at home is fundamental to helping them relax, and feel safe in the car. Try packing their favorite blanket, toy, bed, or crate so that the car feels like an extension of their everyday environment. If you have to put Princess in the bed of a truck, check state laws to make sure she is secured to current regulations. Tether her to both sides with enough lead to make sure she can sit or lie down, but won't be able to jump or fall out of either side.
Limit Barking and Whining
It's hard not to look around and see what or who your dog is barking at, prevent this distraction by installing window shades, covers, and adjustable screens just like you would for a child. Also, make sure the windows are never rolled down more than a couple of inches to ensure your dog can't jump out of your moving vehicle.
Driving with your pup should be fun, so try our simple tips and tricks to ensure a safe, exciting, and adventure filled future. And remember to travel with water, food, healthy treats, and dog's leash in case of an emergency.