If you’re always taking your canine companion to car rides with you, whether to grocery shopping or family picnics, securing him in the vehicle should always be your priority. Although many pet owners don’t pay much attention to this, transporting a dog in the car is something that always needs to be done correctly. The safety of your furry friend is not the only thing in question here, but also the safety of the driver and other passengers.
Choosing a Restraining Option
There are similar laws in other states and many of them result in sizeable fines; which means that not making sure that your pooch is adequately secured doesn’t only affect your own safety but can also take a serious toll on your wallet. Fortunately, the market offers several different types of restraint systems for canines – we’ve decided to take a closer look at them and help you in finding out the ideal solution for your dog’s safety while he’s traveling.
Best Safety Products for Car Travel
Crash-tested dog kennels are undoubtedly a great choice when it comes to traveling with pups. This is especially true for models that have been certified by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), which is a non-profit research organization that rigorously tests carriers and crates. The CPS uses specially-designed dummy dogs to test the structural integrity of each model, with the goal of finding out which containers can actually save your pup’s life in case of a traffic accident.
These kinds of crates have to be placed on the back seat and fastened with the vehicle’s seat belts for extra security. For shorter trips with trained dogs, several other options are available:
Dog Harness Seat Belts
Fitting a special harness seat belt into your vehicle will allow you to restrain your pet securely. Most of these can be used with both small and large canines. However, the owners of very active pups should consider getting a zip line harness – these are attached to the seat belt and allow the pooch to move around the back seat. It’s a perfect solution if your furry friend struggles to settle down and needs freedom even when traveling.
A regular dog harness should be used with canines that are well-behaved. It is not, however, a suitable choice for strong chewers, unless you purchase a seat belt that’s made out of steel rope and is therefore chew-proof.
Canines that are small or anxious (read more about cages for anxiety pets) can significantly benefit from elevated carry boxes, also known as dog booster seats. These products can assist your furry friend in having a calm and relaxing ride by providing him with a good view of his surroundings. Carry boxes come in different variants – some can be attached in the front and some have to be used on the back seat. However, they are always used in conjunction with dog harnesses – they can’t keep dogs safe on their own.
One thing worth mentioning here is that, just like crates, the dog carry boxes aren’t always as secure as their manufacturers claim them to be. Make sure to find all the necessary information and determine how safe a particular model is before making the purchase.
Back Seat Hammocks
Although hammocks rarely satisfy laws concerning pet safety in vehicles, they can certainly be quite useful in some situations. In case you own an older dog who likes lying down when he’s traveling by car, buying a back seat hammock for him is a good idea. There are a number of hammocks on the market, but none of them can provide enough restraint – you shouldn’t use one as a complete replacement for proper harnessing.
In general, a good back seat hammock will protect your canine companion from falling off the seat and will prevent him from spreading hair, dirt, and mud all over the vehicle. We advise getting a hammock that features non-slip covering – it will prevent your pet from sliding off the seat.
Back Seat Barriers
Back seat barriers and dog guards are best suited for larger dogs, as well as for larger cars, too. The reason behind this is that they give a lot of freedom to the pooch, no matter where one decides to place them – in the boot or in the back seat.
Moreover, these are ideal for pets that become really stressed and anxious when they’re in a crate. We advise getting a model that can be bolted to both the floor and the roof of the vehicle – such barriers can’t be knocked out of position in case of an accident.
Bonus Tips – How to Prepare a Dog for a Car Ride
In case your pooch is not accustomed to traveling by car, take a look at the following tips – they’ll help you prepare your pooch for the ride:
Take Him to the Vet
In case your dog is anxious, nauseous, stressed, or suffering from car or general motion sickness, make sure to take him to your local veterinarian – he or she will prescribe appropriate medication that might take care of this problem. Even if your four-legged companion is usually well when traveling by car, but you plan on taking him with you on a longer trip, make sure to visit the vet for a quick checkup before the journey.
Another thing that could prevent your pooch from having motion sickness is if you feed him early – a couple of hours before the trip.
Take a Break
When going on longer journeys, taking regular breaks is of crucial importance. Every couple of hours, take a short break and let your pooch do his business and run for a while. After hours in the crate or harness, he will be more than happy to stretch his legs a bit. Moreover, this also helps the pup stay calm and avoid getting stressed or anxious – no dog likes to stay in the crate for too long.
While your pooch is enjoying the break, make sure that you’re enjoying it too. Even if you can drive for longer periods, that doesn’t mean you should – humans were not meant to be driving cars for hours on end.
Don’t Leave Him Alone in the Car
Avoid leaving your four-legged friend alone in the vehicle, especially in summer – high temperatures can cause the dog to experience a heat stroke. Moreover, your pooch could get very anxious while alone in the car and hurt himself while trying to escape the crate or harness. If you own an escape artist dog maybe consider buying some of these cages especially made for them. Another thing worth mentioning here is that it’s illegal to leave the pet alone in the vehicle at some places.
In case you can’t avoid leaving him alone, don’t forget to check the temperature first. Due to the fact that the temperature inside the car can get very high, the outside temperature is not a good reference. Make sure that your car’s air conditioning is working correctly.
Don’t Feed While Driving
As we already mentioned, feeding your furry friend a couple of hours before the trip is the wisest decision. This won’t only prevent the pooch from getting nauseous, but it could also save your life. Taking hands off the wheel to give your pup some treats and snacks can have lethal consequences – keep your eyes on the road and feed your pooch only during breaks.
In case you won’t be driving on bumpy roads, putting a bowl with water inside the crate is also a good idea. If you’re unable to do this, make sure to always have a bottle of water on hand – dogs need to stay hydrated and you never know what might happen.
Beware of Windows
At no point should you allow your pooch to stick his head out of the window – movies are one thing, and real life is another. Experts have been warning pet owners about this for quite some time now, but many people still allow their pups to do this. Even though there aren’t exactly any laws against this in most states, police officers are known to stop vehicles and give pet owners a warning.
When your dog sticks his head out of the window, he puts himself in the danger of getting hit by foreign objects at high speed. Furthermore, this can dry his eyes, and some canines can even unexpectedly jump out of the vehicle.
In case your car has power windows, your pooch could even accidentally open one by pressing the button with his paw. Keep the windows near your dog closed, and open only those that he can’t reach.