It’s as American as Puppy Chow, the iconic portrait of the happy pup riding shotgun on the open road. But times have changed. It’s up to us to roll up the windows and choose what’s safest for our precious pup passengers. That’s where Woof Report comes in. We consulted top trainers and the dog safety task force, Bark Buckle Up, to get the facts. Check out the do’s and don’ts (not in that order) on keeping dogs safe from driveway to highway and back again on short car rides.
Don’t Let Your Dog Ride on the Driver’s Lap. All it takes is one fast stop and your dog could go sailing through the windshield or falling onto the gas pedal. He could even step on the dashboard controls or bump the steering wheel to cause a terrible accident in seconds.
Don’t Let Your Dog Hang His Head Out of the Window of a Moving Car. You may think you’re depriving your pup, but consider it an act of love to keep windows up enough so that no part of your dog’s body is sticking out. You’ll also prevent rocks, sticks and road debris from scratching your best friend’s eye, and ensure that he won’t jump out after anything he sees passing by.
Don’t Position Your Dog in the Direct Sun. To keep your pup from overheating, position his crate or secure him in the coolest side of the car.
Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car Unattended. Even for short trips around town, your dog may be approached by strangers, exposed to unhealthy temperatures or hurt. Take him with you or leave him home where he’s safe.
Do Keep Your Dog Restrained in the Car. Whether it’s a crate, safety harness or gate barrier, by buckling up your pup, you help prevent accidents and keep him safe in the event of one. Crates or carriers are ideal for short or long hauls. Just make sure to secure them so they won’t flip or come loose should the car stop suddenly.
If your car is too small for your dog’s crate, consider a pet safety harness or seat belt. These are available in different sizes to fit all breeds and are typically secured to your car seat belt. Finally, a gate barrier is a good choice to keep your dog from jumping between the cargo space and the rest of the car, or between the front and back seats. Consider a pet harness as well to keep him restrained in case of an accident.
Do Keep Your Dog in the Back Seat. Just like kids, dogs are never safe in the front seat. In the event of a crash, a deployed airbag can cause serious injuries.
Do Crack a Window. Keep the window down just enough to keep the fresh air circulating and your dog’s head inside the car. This lets him ride with the wind in his fur and catch interesting scents from the safety of his crate or harness.
Do Keep a Leash on Your Dog Before Opening any Car Doors. And keep the dog’s leash firmly in hand when loading and unloading the dog from the car. This way, you won’t worry about your dog dashing off into traffic. Be sure he’s wearing his ID tag with current contact info too.
See top products for pet car safety from Bark Buckle UP, an organization that collects in-depth statistics about pet safety and tests products for quality and safety.
Thank you to Barker Behavior Dog Training in Chicago for the car safety tips.
Thank you to Rebecca and Stella Grace for the photo.