Hello everyone, and welcome back to a brand new episode of Dog Sense. This one is such an exciting one!! This week, Sarah and I will be discussing something every dog owner should know: How to safely travel in your car with your dog!Yes, believe it or not (and I hope that you do actually believe it), traveling in a car with your canine best friend isn't as straightforward as you might think.
In fact, even a 10-minute trip to the vet will need planning and preparation. So, a long trip with your dog will need even more work!
And well, we thought, why not help you with that?!
Are you ready?
Let's dive in!
Why You Should Get A Crate
Getting a solid crate is probably your best option if you're planning to travel with your dog. You can get them in practically all sizes, and our favorites are the crash-proof brands.
I know, some of these crates can get a bit pricey, but I think we can all agree that it's better to spend money on a crate rather than go through the emotional trauma of having a car accident and having your dog get injured! Plus, the expense of the emergency vet visit will far exceed the price of the crate.
'But my dog LOVES sticking his nose out of the window!’ - you're probably thinking right now. 'How could I take that away from him?'
Well, perhaps by taking a moment to think about all the things that could go wrong if an accident happens and you don't have your dog safely secured. Let’s not get into details here, but almost all of them involve a dog getting injured.
For example, driving with a small dog on your lap it's a big no-no. It SEEMS like a lovely bonding moment…until you get rear ended (or worse!), the airbag comes out, and…….I don’t need to go into more details.
Alternatively, you can have your dog next to you in a CRATE or dog seat belt. Just make sure he’s safely secured AND with that the airbag is turned OFF. Then your dog will still be able to watch the countryside (or city side) as you drive.
Some people are concerned about crates getting too hot. Obviously, everyone knows that you should never leave a dog in a hot car, whether it's in a crate or seatbelt. And if you're traveling with the AC on, you should be fine.
But if you still think the AC is not cooling quick enough, attaching a small battery-powered fan to the crate with a carabiner clip can really help cool down the crate. Or try one of the nozzles that they use to keep kids cool in the backseats of cars. It looks like a vacuum hose, and it hooks to the AC vent in the front and snakes all the way to the backseat area.
The 'Traveling with Dogs Safely' Checklist
So while the previous tips were admittedly worst-case scenarios, they’re still important for you to be aware of. On a lighter note, here's a few things that will make traveling with your canine best friend much safer and enjoyable.
1. Update Your Dog's Microchip ID
You surely already know that your dog should have a microchip ID that can be tracked in case he goes missing.
So, if you're traveling with your dog, make sure the info on the ID, like your current address, is up to date. You don't want to lose your dog and have someone calling your far-away home from three years ago. Yeah, not very helpful, right?.
2. Get Your Dog a Collar (Or Body Vest) With Your Number on It
This one is super useful in case your dog happens to go missing while you're on vacation far from home. You could even get a collar and have your cell phone number and the word 'Reward' embroidered on it.
Now, you don't want the dog's name on it because you don't want anybody to keep your dog.
I know, dog thieves aren’t combing the streets 24/7 looking for dogs to steal, but this is something that does happen, especially with trained dogs.
People just love dogs who listen to commands and can do all kinds of cool stuff, so they might be tempted not to give your dog back. I know some of you are thinking “oh they would give my dog back in a second!”.
3. While Riding in the Car, Always Have Your Dog on a Leash
Putting a leash on your dog when riding in the car will prevent them from jumping out of the vehicle to run somewhere or chase after an animal or (gasp) person.
If you're the owner of a jumpy, easily excitable dog, you should definitely have them on a leash at all times to prevent these types of scenarios.
4. Bring Some Bottled Water
If your dog's tummy is sensitive, he might have gotten used to the water that comes out of your tap, which can be problematic when traveling to other places.
Your puppy could experience some ‘gastro upset’ when drinking water from sources different to the ones he’s used to. So don't forget to bring a couple bottles of distilled water (or bottled water from your home) on your next trip.
You should also talk to your vet about any medications your dog might need, and ask for a prescription if necessary. The last thing you want on vacation is a sick puppy!
5. Bring a Soft Crate
This can be really valuable when bringing dogs into hotel rooms. It can be a pain in the butt having to lug a heavy metal or plastic crate from the car all the way up to the hotel room. Soft crates are the perfect alternative; they are comfortable for the dog, lightweight, and easy to carry.
So, if you need to run out and grab food or hop in the shower, you can put the dog in with a soft crease and rest assured that it'll be safe.
But…..if your dog might dig/chew out of it, choose a wire crate that folds up. It’s still going to be heavier than a fabric crate, but it will prevent him from breaking out.
Warning! Soft crates, fabric crates, and wire crates are not the safest option for a car because they offer zero protection if you get in an accident.
Although it may seem the opposite due to all the slightly upsetting things we've discussed today, we're really not trying to scare you. We just want to help you prepare better for your next adventure with your puppy.
Traveling with your dog can be one of the best experiences you'll have with them. It's where the fun happens, and happy memories are made. So, being aware of all these things when preparing a trip with your dog will make your journey much more safe and enjoyable for everyone. Happy driving!