Our doggos accompany us to the park, we walk together, they’re there when we get home at night, they comfort us when we’re upset; the least we can do is take them for a car ride, but keeping them safe in the car is always a debated topic.
How should you drive with pets? Are there any considerations that keep you and your pet safe in the car? You should always feel confident and in control when they stick their head out the window in sheer joy, so in this post, we’re talking about tips to keep yourself and your dogs safe in the car.
Prior to any car rides, it’s a good idea to get your dog is familiar with the space. Whether you have a new pup or you’re teaching an old dog new tricks, there are some things you can do to make the vehicle less frightful. Leave your vehicle open in the driveway and let your doggo poke around and explore the car. This will cut down on the likelihood of getting spooked or having an unfortunate accident out of fear and anxiety.
Alternatively, you can take them for a quick and quiet tour around the block to kickstart the process. Crate training is a safe option to get them used to the car (more on this later), as they will be in a confined space that they’re already comfortable with. Most dogs come to think of their kennels as safe spaces, or home bases, and enjoy them. Ensuring they have a space they know and trust may help when introducing them to a vehicle.
Repeat this process a few times a week until they become accustomed to the space and you’re confident safely transporting them.
Keep It Cool
Never, ever leave an animal in a hot car. We’ve all seen the horrible news stories and viral videos of trapped animals being rescued by bystanders who have to smash through windows to help them - this is no way to treat our furry friends, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
If you take your dog out and about with you, make sure you have no plans to leave them in the vehicle, especially in the heat. Humidity and heat affect them in the same capacity they affect us - if you’re hot, so are they. If you’re sweating and need the window down, so do they - but they can’t release sweat to help ward off the effects of heat like we can.
An outdoor temperature of 21° Celsius can spell upwards of 30°C inside of a car. At an average outside temp of 26°C, expect the inside of the vehicle to register around the 37°C mark within 10 minutes, and 45°C within 30 minutes.
Each year, the BC SPCA receives about 460 calls about dogs in distress who have been left in hot cars.
Is there a safe temperature? No, not really. If you have to leave your pooch in the car at all, consider leaving them at home until you know they won’t be left unattended with the windows up.
Sit, Fido, Sit
Your dog should never sit with you in the front seat - whether that be in the passenger seat, or on your lap. Should you be part of an accident or a fender bender, the dog is at an increased risk of injury due to their proximity to the airbags (should they deploy). There is also a higher likelihood that your pet may be injured by getting tossed around the interior of your vehicle.
Your dog can also be a distraction to you as a driver, taking your eyes and attention away from the road. Always be sure to keep your pets in the back seat, or in the rear open storage space of your SUV or hatchback. When they’re in the backseat they need to be secured by a crate, or a seatbelt harness.
There are different belts available, some that tether to the vehicle seatbelt and some that hook onto the same secure points that child seats use. Choose the one that works best for your vehicle and your best friend – the size and demeanour of your buddy will help determine the best fit.
Riding with the top down? Check out some gear for the wind-loving dog! These shades, called Doggles, are specifically made for doggo’s that like their tongues and ears flapping.
No dogs should be left untethered in the bed of a pickup truck, and should they be required to travel in the bed, a secure crate needs to be in place for their safety.
People often think of their 4-legged friends as members of the family - and it’s easy to see why. Dogs are more than pets, they’re man’s best friend after all - we should do all we can to help them reach their destinations as we would for any fellow passenger.
We know how excited they get when the ‘car’ word is mentioned, but the dog park can wait a few minutes while you ensure your pet is safely ready to roll before leaving the driveway.