How To Have A Fun And Safe Road Trip With Your Dog

Taking your furry, four-legged friend along for a road trip is a great way for you and your dog to bond. Many dogs love car rides! Driving around ranks right up there with chasing squirrels, eating treats and getting tummy rubs. But when you’re taking your dog for a ride in your car, make sure that your dog has fun and that he’s safe.

Here are some things to keep in mind when taking your pooch along for a road trip.

Don’t Let Your Dog Ride In The Bed Of Your Truck

According to the American Humane Society, an estimated 100,000 dogs die from riding in truck beds each year. (That number doesn't include the dogs that die from jumping out of car windows or dogs who are killed because they are not properly secured during a car accident.)

Letting your dog ride in the bed of your truck is dangerous. A bump in the road can cause your dog to get off balance and fall. Tying your pet up in the bed of your truck is not the answer. Dogs have been dragged down the road and they can be injured or killed from falling out of the truck while they’re still tied to it. Plus, if you get into a car accident, your dog will be thrown from your truck and will likely be killed or severely injured. In the back of a truck bed, your dog is also exposed to the elements such as sun, snow, rain, dust and road debris.

Depending on where you live, there are laws that prohibit dogs and other animals from being placed in the back of trucks.

Bottom line: the bed of a truck is not the place for your pet to ride. Keep your dog safely in the cab of your truck in a safety harness secured with a seat belt.

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(Image Source: SleepyPod)

 Use A Safety Harness And Don’t Let Your Dog Roam

You wouldn’t let your child ride in the car without a seat belt. And you wouldn’t allow your baby to sit on your lap or crawl around the car while you’re driving either. Well, your dog is in just as much danger as you or your child if you get into an accident.

Luckily, there are specially designed dog harnesses and booster seats that secure your dog using your car’s safety belts or LATCH system. These safety harnesses keep your dog safely secured so they are more protected in case you get into an accident. Pet restraints should use the vehicles built-in lower anchor and tethers for children (LATCH) systems if possible. Just like children, it’s best if your dog is buckled in the backseat.

If you’re using a dog crate to secure your dog in the back area of your vehicle, make sure that the crate is tied down securely with strength-rated cargo area anchor straps. Do not use elastic or bungee cords. Also, make sure that the crate has lots of air circulating around it. Don’t pack a lot of items around the crate that may prevent air from freely flowing.

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Likewise, don’t let your pup roam free or walk around the car while you’re driving. Not only are they in jeopardy should someone hit your car, but they can distract you while you’re driving – which can cause you to get into a car crash. Also, don’t let your dog stick his head out the window. He can get hit with road debris, fall out if you have to stop suddenly or he can jump out of the car.  

NOTE: Many states have dog restraint laws that you should also be aware of.

Protect your dog while you’re driving just like you’d protect any other precious cargo. Buckle your pup up!

Bring Along A Doggie Travel Pack

If you’re going on a road trip or vacation with your dog, be sure that your dog has a name tag with your phone number and address on it. If your dog isn’t currently microchipped, you may want to consider bringing him to the vet to get him chipped.

Just in case of a medical emergency, ask your vet for a copy of your pet’s medical records and vaccinations so you can bring them with you. Be sure to bring along your dog’s food, leash, harness, collar, waste bags, medication, dishes for food and water, a pet first-aid kit, his favorite toys, pillow and a blanket that he’s used to so he has a sense of security and familiarity. You’ll also want to have some towels and cleaner just in case your dog has an accident in the car or gets car sick.

Bring along tap water from home and put it in a bottle or pick up some bottled spring water for your trip. Having your dog drink water from an area he’s not used to can make his tummy upset – which is not what you want when you’re on the road.

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Don’t Leave Your Dog In The Car Unattended

When you take your dog for a car ride – whether it’s a drive around town or a cross-country vacation – you’re responsible for your pet. That means you should never leave your dog unattended in your vehicle. Big responsibility? Yes, it is!

First, dogs should never be left in hot cars. Keep in mind that cars heat up quickly. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) states that even on a mild 72-degree Fahrenheit day, the temperature inside your car can reach a life-threatening 116 degrees Fahrenheit within one hour! On an 85-degree day, the temperature can hit 102 degrees F in under 10 minutes. Cracking the windows of your car will not do any good against the rapid heat of the inside of your car – which can cause brain damage and death within a short period of time.

At the same time, dogs have also died from hypothermia when left alone in cars during the wintertime.

Additionally, there are laws that protect animals from being left alone in vehicles and you could face some serious legal issues if you’re busted violating the laws in your state.

Not only are the weather elements an issue, but people steal pets from cars as well. If you have a purebred, your dog is particularly at risk. Your pet can also be stolen and used in dog fighting rings. Plan on bringing your dog with you whenever you leave your car. (It sounds like a hassle, but it’s the responsible thing to do!)

Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel

If you’re taking your pooch on vacation with you, plan to stop every two to three hours to let your dog take a potty break and stretch his legs. Also, make sure you do your research beforehand and book your room at a pet-friendly hotel. Do a search online for pet-friendly hotels or check out this list of dog-friendly hotels that range from affordable to more upscale.

Keep in mind that each hotel is different. Some have limits to the number of pets you can have in the room, some have weight restrictions and many charge additional fees if you have pets. Be sure to call ahead to ensure that they have pet-friendly rooms available for the days/nights that you will need rooms for you and your best friend.

When you’re traveling with your dog, have fun…and be safe!

Are you ready to find a new vehicle for your next road trip with your furry friend? Check out the vehicles at Neil Huffman Subaru. Give us a call today to schedule a test drive or to find out details about our inventory: 888-696-0633.

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