Traveling with your dog can be a lot of fun, but before you jump into the car with your furry friend, you should know how to keep him safe during the ride. With small dogs, they might be more content to lie in your lap during the ride, but this is as safe as driving with a small child in your lap. Just like you would buckle your child before heading out, you should do the same for your dog.
The best place for your dog to be during a car ride is in a crate strapped to the back seat of the car. The crate will keep him safe from being thrown during braking and possible collisions. When choosing a crate, look for one that will give your dog room to stand up and turn around in. It should not be so big that he can get thrown around and injured during braking. Also, the crate should have enough ventilation so your dog doesn’t get too hot in extreme temperatures. If a crate is not an option, you can get a safety harness that connects to the seat belt buckle or for smaller dogs, you can use a dog car booster seat.
A car booster seat has many benefits that not only help cure motion sickness, but can also save your dog’s life. It helps keep the body stable so that each time you brake, accelerate or take turn he won’t be forced to bear the pressure and weight of those maneuvers. It also gives him line-of-sight. He will be able to see out of both the front and side windows, decreasing the chance of getting motion sickness.
The safety harness will keep your dog from moving about the car and distracting you, but it was not designed to keep him safe from injury during an accident.
Most dogs do best when the air inside the car is slightly cool. In the summer, use the AC to cool off the car before placing your dog inside. In the winter, don’t let it get to warm when you have the heater on. During the warm months, it is a good idea to let fresh air in every once in a while when traveling with your dog. You shouldn’t have your windows 100% open, this much air can be too overwhelming. Instead, leave your windows 1/4 - 1/2 open. Another thing to remember is to make sure the power windows are turned off so your dog doesn’t accidentally open it on his own.
Another important thing to remember is that if you are going on a long trip, your dog is going to need some breaks. Even if you feel like you can go on driving longer than 2 or 3 hours, your dog can’t. He can get dehydrated and restless. After traveling for about 2 hours, pull over to a safe area, have your dog on leash, let him stretch his legs, go to the bathroom, and have a small snack and a drink. You can keep these travel bowls in your car so you have something to put your dog’s food and drink in.
Marlene Kingston is a Breeder and trainer at My Doodle Maltipoos. She loves taking her two Maltipoos on adventures and training obedient fun, loving maltipoos to join their new family!