Riding safely in a car can be a great way, not only for you and your dog to get from Point A to Point B, but to bond and partake in fun adventures together. Let’s talk about safe ways to teach your puppy to ride in a car.
Teaching Your Puppy To Ride In A Car
Safety first. Do not let your dog ride on your lap while you’re driving. If there is an accident, you will not be able to hold onto your dog. And keep your pet away from the airbags. This will likely mean not letting your dog ride on your lap in the front seat. When an airbag deploys many people get injured and that is the same for your dog.
Decide how you want your dog or puppy to travel with you: in a crate, carrier, or in a safety harness or dog-specific seatbelt. Whatever type of restraint you choose, your pup will need to become familiar with it. Let him investigate it in his own time—don’t rush the process. You don’t want to inadvertently cause him to become fearful of the safety devices.
Start car rides when your dog is a puppy. The sooner you get your puppy accustomed to the car and to riding in it, the better chance you have of her finding it an enjoyable adventure. To begin this process, let her explore it while it’s sitting in the driveway. Let her sit in the seats, explore the floors, see what the carpet in the hatchback feels like before turning on the car.
Tips: Bring a favorite toy or blanket in the car with you so your dog feels safe and comfortable. Give your dog a special treat, toy or dog bone that she only gets in the car.
Once your puppy has played around inside it a bit, close the doors, turn the radio on a low volume and turn on the vehicle. Let her experience what it feels like when the engine is running. If she seems okay with that, move back and forth in the driveway to acquaint her with the movement of the car before you take a practice trip.
Take frequent trips. If the only trip your dog takes in the vehicle is to the veterinarian’s office, they may equate “car ride” with “scary, loud, other-dog-smelly place” and become nervous.
Get in the habit of taking your dog for a car ride weekly, if possible. Take a quick drive to the local dog park or a different part of town, where you can explore and take a walk. Take your dog with you when you go visit friends and family (with ample warning ahead of time). If you don’t have a set location in mind, simply take a drive around the block or go see the sights!
Important Pet Safety Reminders
Make sure your dog is microchipped and/or wearing a collar. If there is an accident or if you open the door and your dog somehow escapes from his harness and dashes off into unfamiliar terrain, you will want to make certain he’s microchipped to help you get him back. If your dog isn’t microchipped he needs to wear a collar and tags with your contact information.
Carry your pet’s vet records with you. If you’re traveling and are away from your usual veterinarian and your pet needs medical attention you need to have access to his vet records. Ask your vet for a copy of all of your pet’s medical records and keep them with you – in your vehicle or attached to the dog’s crate or carrier. When you’re mapping out your route, make certain you know where the local veterinarian’s offices are in the event of an emergency.
Bring food and water. Traveling can be stressful for your pet no matter how much he likes riding in a car. To alleviate any potential for tummy issues when you arrive at your destination, plan ahead: Pack enough food and water from home. (Even a change in their drinking water can lead to stomach upset.) Don’t forget to bring collapsible bowls! You may not be able to pack enough water for your entire trip, but ease your pets into drinking the water at the new place. Offer him frequent water and potty breaks. Avoid feeding them during the trip, if possible, especially if they’re prone to car sickness.
Prevent sunburn. Just as humans can suffer sunburn while driving in a car, so too, can your pets. Shade your dog from the rays of the sun as much as possible. Keep the vehicle cool enough, so your dog doesn’t get overheated. If they’re going to be in the sun, you may want to put sunblock on their skin so they don’t get a sunburn, this is especially necessary for short-haired and white dogs (and cats).
Never leave your dog alone in the car. In many states, it is illegal to leave a pet alone in a vehicle. In the summer, it can quickly heat up to dangerous levels. Within a matter of minutes, the temperature inside the car can reach levels that are dangerous or even fatal for pets. In the winter, leaving a dog alone in the car can lead to hypothermia. A dog left alone in the car could be stolen.
Bottom Line On Driving With Your Dog
Since so many of us consider our pets to be members of the family, we want to include them in our plans—whether it’s a vacation or a trip to the park with the children. With planning, training, and patience, you and your dogs can enjoy road trips cross-country or just across town!
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.
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