Having a road trip companion is always fun, which is why traveling with your dog is always such a blast.
However, when your dog is along for the ride, it's essential to make sure that they are safe and healthy the whole time. Let's look at what dog owners should and shouldn't do when traveling with their furry friends.
The Do's and Don'ts of Traveling with Your Dog
Don't take your new dog on a long car trip at first.
Puppies and dogs that are new to you and your family may not be comfortable riding in a car yet. While many new dog owners are eager to bring their new furry friend with them on all their adventures, it's important to work with them on building their comfort levels in the car first.
- What to do instead: You can start by getting your dog comfortable with the idea of getting in the car. You can do this by putting them in the car, securing them in their spot, and then giving them a treat. Once they are comfortable with this step, you can start making short trips with them, driving around the neighborhood, or taking them to a close park and back. Once you reach your destination, make sure to reward them for good behavior. Gradually take longer and longer trips with them and rewarding them afterward. Eventually, with proper training, your dog will love getting in the car with you, especially if they know they are safe and if you're going somewhere fun for them too.
Don't allow your dog to ride in your lap or the front passenger side seat.
Riding with a dog on your lap or with the dog in the front passenger seat can be harmful to the dog in the event of a sudden stop or car accident. Veterinarians and dog experts around the world warn pet owners against letting their dogs ride shotgun in the interest of keeping our furry friends safe.
- What to do instead: Provide your dog with a comfortable space in the back seat that is small enough to ensure that they do not have room to roam. There are many options for dog owners to purchase and practice to keep their pups safe. Options include dog hammocks, harness seat belts, zipline harnesses, and carry boxes, among other options.
Don't Travel with your dog in the truck bed.
American Humane warns us against traveling with a dog in the bed of your truck. An estimated 100,000 dogs are lost each year to accidents involving dogs riding in the bed of a pickup truck. Even if your dog is restrained in the truck bed, he or she can still be tossed around. Dog's can also get tangled in their restraint/leash, which can strangle them or cause harm in another way.
- What to do instead: Let your dog ride inside the cab with a restraint (such as a harness seatbelt or zipline harness), carry box, or back seat hammock.
Don't keep your dog in the car for long periods of time.
Just like humans, dogs like to get fresh air and stretch their legs during road trips. Don't keep your dog in the car for too long; otherwise, they could start feeling sick, get dehydrated, or have an accident. When traveling with your dog, you should always be concerned about their safety, but make sure you check in with them to regulate how they are feeling too.
- What to do instead: Experts suggest stopping about every two hours for your dog to take a break and walk around, stretch, drink water, and go to the bathroom.
Don't assume that because you're comfortable with the temperature that your pup is.
With all their fur, dogs typically run warmer than humans. And while we as humans are used to traveling in the car with the sun shining through the window, dogs aren't. The glass of the window can magnify the sun's heat and make their spot warmer than what they are comfortable with. Keep in mind that if your dog is panting, it is sweating, which means your pup is too hot.
- What to do instead: Keep the air conditioner on with a vent pointing at your dog at all times. It would help if you also cracked open the windows every so often to keep the car well ventilated and keep your furry friend nice and cool. If you can, start the car before loading up and get the air conditioner running, so your furry friend has a nice cool car to jump into.
Don't feed your dog right before or during a long car trip.
Car sickness in dogs is more common than you think, and feeding your dog right before heading out on your next adventure can result in a big mess in your bag seat. Additionally, many vets and animal experts advise that even if your dog is behaving well throughout the trip, you should refrain from giving them treats along the way as an extra measure to prevent car sickness.
- What to do instead: Feed your dog no later than three hours before traveling with your dog and wait until you reach your destination to feed them any treats or a meal. While eating is not recommended, your dog needs to have access to water along the way. Most dogs will not drink water while the car is moving, so make sure to stop regularly, as previously mentioned.
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