Getting out and about with your dog is a great thing to do. It’ll help them socialise and prevent them going stir crazy spending all their time in your yard or building. While walks in the neighbourhood are much-loved elements of your dog’s schedule, sometimes a change of scenery is required.
These trips will probably involve bringing your pooch in the car with you for a longer time than the drive to the vet or groomer. Here are some tips to help make sure you both arrive and get home safely.
- Shorter trips first
Don’t make a road trip your pet’s first experience with the car. Travelling can be pretty scary for pets who fret, and those who aren’t prone to worry will still need to learn how to behave properly first before they’re doing it for hours at a time. Sitting still can be difficult, and you will find your pet probably wanting to get closer to you, which is a problem whether they’re in the front or the back. The next tip will help with this problem.
- Consider a restraint
Restraints are useful for two reasons.Firstly, they keep your pooch still, and prevent them from climbing over to sit in your lap. Having your dog in your lap while you’re the driver is not only highly distracting, it’s also super illegal in some jurisdictions. Your dog is going to want to be with you but they need to remain on their own seat, and the best way to ensure this happens is with a restraint and a reassuring word in their direction.
Secondly, in the unfortunate and unlikely event of a car collision, being restrained is the best position for your dog to be in, for the safety of you and of course them. With a sudden stop, your unrestrained dog could become a doggy projectile, causing damage to you as they fly around the car. They also are much less likely to survive if they’re not strapped in, as with people and seat belt use. Make sure it’s fitted properly, and you and your pooch should both be fine if anything goes wrong.
- Open windows – but not too much
Leave the windows open just a crack to keep the fresh air flowing in, but make sure it’s not open wide enough for your canine to stick its head out of. The classic image of a car with its head out the window, mouth open and tongue flapping is actually not good at all, as it risks their eyes becoming filled with irritants, or their head being hit by a passing car or sign. Getting a restraint should help remove this risk, but still be wary of how far down you put the windows.
- Take breaks often
This is good advice for all road trips, but especially when you’ve got your dog riding shotgun. Dogs get restless even faster than humans do, so bring their lead and stop off when you need it to go for a wander and stretch all six of your legs. This is also a good time to give them a big drink of water, just make sure to stop again before they look like they might need to expel that water.
- Stop at dog friendly locations
When you need a bathroom break, or to stop for food, pick locations where you and your dog can leave the car together – never leave your dog in a car unattended, even on a day which doesn’t seem too hot to you. A good idea might to bring all the food you’re going to need with you so don’t need to enter any diners or restaurants with your pooch in tow, you just need to find a rest area or park to sit in while you eat. These places usually also have toilet facilities, which works out quite well.If there are two or more humans on the road trip, then you can stop wherever, but just make sure one human stays with the dog while the other buys food or visits the bathroom. The line to take away here is never to leave your dog unattended.