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Keeping Your Dog Safe and Comfortable During Car Rides

There Are Risks and Responsibilities to Bear in Mind When Driving with Dogs

Pet Comfort in CarFor the vast majority of dog owners, their canine companions are considered a member of their family. These owners often give their dogs names that are traditionally reserved for people, e.g. Jake, Sam, Chloe, Lucy, and they will engage in conversations with their dogs even though the latter cannot participate, at least not by means of words.

This familial attachment extends into many different aspects of everyday life. Countless dog owners will attest to the fact that their pets are content just to be in the same room or space as one or more of the family members, even in the most ordinary settings such as watching television, working on the computer, or just lazing on the back deck; and for many dog owners, these routine situations include taking their dog with them in the car on family outings or on long car rides.

Yes, many dogs indeed enjoy car rides; in fact, when they sense or are told that they are going somewhere with the family in the car, some dogs get rather animated and perhaps a little impatient too. Yet while it can be comforting and enjoyable to take their dog with them on car rides, it is important for the owners to keep in mind that driving with dogs has inherent risks and therefore heightened safety responsibilities as well.

Exhibit A
Although it may be cute to see a dog sticking its head out the window of a car, this is not a good habit to encourage or endorse from a safety perspective. Although it might seem like the dog is deriving considerable enjoyment from such an activity, it is a position that presents significant risk; the dog can be struck by a flying object, it may suffer a serious injury if the driver stops suddenly or hits a large bump or pothole, or, heaven forbid, the dog jumps or falls to the road.

Exhibit B
An even more substantial risk is presented when a dog is allowed to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck. All of the safety threats associated with a dog sticking its head out the window of a moving vehicle are intensified in this situation, as a pickup truck essentially offers no protection to any part of the dog’s body; and because the bed is typically made of metal and fully exposed to the elements, it can become unbearably hot in the summer and intolerably cold in the winter for a dog. Additionally, if a dog is left loose in the bed of a truck, the driver can be charged under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) with operating a vehicle with an insecure load.

Exhibit C
Some dog owners like to have their dog beside them on the front seat of the vehicle or sitting in their lap as they are driving their car. Once again, this is rather irresponsible behaviour when owners are in a car with their dogs, as it places the dogs at risk of injury or death if there is a sudden swerve, stop, or accident, particularly if the airbag deploys. Furthermore, driving motor vehicles with dogs in their laps could subject drivers to traffic fines for careless or distracted driving if they are deemed to be at fault for any accidents.

In all the above scenarios, dogs are essentially left defenseless, so it begs the question: are dog owners acting responsibly while driving with their dogs in any of these manners?

Safety Tips from Dog Training Professionals for Driving Responsibly with Dogs

Keeping Pets Safe in CarThe experienced dog training professionals from Alpha Paws, located at 396 Rushbrook Drive in Newmarket, Ontario, truly care about the welfare i.e.: the health and safety of all dogs; this includes keeping dogs safe and comfortable in the car whether the dog owners are making short trips to and from Alpha Paws’ training facility or going on long car rides with their dogs.

To that end, the Alpha Paws team offers the following safety tips for driving with dogs as a public service for all dog lovers:

  • Keep the dog in the backseat (car) or cargo area (van/SUV)
  • Consider placing the dog in a safety-certified, crash-tested crate
  • For non-crated dogs, disengage the backseat power window switches
  • Take stretch breaks/comfort breaks every 2 to 3 hours on long car rides
  • Bring some food, a bottle of water, and bowls for the dog on every car ride
  • Use a seat cover (backseat) or a mat (cargo area) for added comfort/protection
  • Never leave a dog unattended in the car in any conditions or for any period of time
  • Ask a professional about the benefits of using special harnesses, car seats, or tethers

Driving with dogs can certainly be a lot of fun and good company, provided that the dog owners take the appropriate actions or measures to guarantee the safety of their canine passengers. Whenever they are in a vehicle, dogs are subject to the same risks as their human family members, perhaps even more so due to their mental and physical makeup compared to people; accordingly, the professionals from Alpha Paws (1-647-694-4584) trust that dog owners will find the above safety tips for driving with dogs to be of value.

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