Car rides may be Fido’s favorite activity, or they may be a source of his anxiety. Whether your dog loves or loathes riding in the car, car safety is crucial for canines and humans alike.
Why Car Safety Matters
Regardless of whether you’re bringing Fido on an hours-long road trip or just zipping across town to run a quick errand, it’s important that he’s secured properly in your vehicle.
For starters, a safely secured dog will help to minimize distractions for the driver. No one wants to navigate the road while also trying to keep their pup from climbing over the steering wheel or crawling under the brakes. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your dog won’t be able to escape out the window or door while you’re en route.
Additionally, airbags are simply not designed for dogs. If your pup is sitting in the front passenger seat in the event of an accident, the airbag may end up causing harm to your dog rather than protection.
It’s not uncommon to see a dog hanging his head out the car window, sitting on someone’s lap, or having free reign of the car. Many dog owners mistakenly believe that restraining their dog in the car will be a source of stress. However, if your dog gets stressed during car rides, a snug sense of security may help to alleviate his anxiety.
Safest Ways for Dogs to Ride in Cars
There are a few options when it comes to safely getting yourself and your dog to your destination. The right choice depends on a few different factors, including your dog’s size and temperament.
Safe options for securing your dog in your car include:
Dog Seat Belt
Like airbags, standard seat belts aren’t designed for dogs. However, they can still be helpful for safely securing your dog when paired with a dog harness seat belt. Seat belts specifically designed for dogs come in the form of a harness that attaches to the seatbelt already installed in your car.
Dogs who don’t mind sitting for a while can use a standard dog harness seat belt. Pups who prefer more freedom of movement or who get carsick may be better suited with a zipline harness seatbelt, which allows them to move back and forth between two spots and alternate positions.
Dog Car Seat
Dog car seat carriers or boosters seats are another option when it comes to safe travel.
A carrier seat, meant for small dogs, buckles into the seat of the car keeps the canine contained. It generally includes a harness for added security. A carrier seat is similar to a crate, with the main difference being its open top which allows the dog to see his surroundings and look out the window.
A similar option is a dog booster seat. Some are designed like dog beds, so be sure your dog’s car seat comes with enough features that allow him to be restrained safely and securely.
Back Seat Hammock
While pet hammocks won’t necessarily keep a dog restrained, these easily removable sheet-like products will provide him with a cozy, comfortable, calming spot to relax during car rides. Back seat hammocks also provide a barrier between the back seat and the driver, minimizing potential distractions. Plus, they can help keep your car relatively free of dog fur and debris.
Many car hammocks can be used in conjunction with dog seat belts for added security.
If your dog considers his crate at home to be his safe space, a traveling crate may be a source of comfort for your pooch.
You can either bring his usual crate along for a sense of familiarity (if secured properly), or purchase a soft-sided travel crate specifically for travel. Either way, try to make sure Fido feels comfortably contained rather than trapped and confined.
If you’re traveling with a large dog, or even with multiple dogs, you may want to invest in a car pet barrier. These come in the form of mesh netting materials or bars, and are suitable for pups who ride in the back of the car, as it will keep them from climbing over the seats.
Make sure you choose a pet barrier that will properly fit into your car—and make sure your dog can’t sneak between the bars or under the net!
Additional Car Tips for Dogs
When you’re driving with your dog, be sure to lock all windows and doors. On the off-chance that your pup wriggles out of his crate, seat belt, or car seat, you want the peace of mind of knowing he can’t accidentally open the door or window to get out of the car.
It’s always a good idea to have your dog microchipped in case he completes a successful escape attempt. At the minimum, he should have an ID on his collar with your contact information. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our furry friends.
Never leave your dog alone in the car, even if just for a few minutes. If you’re road-tripping and need to stop for food, choose a dog-friendly restaurant or opt for an outdoor picnic!
Provide plenty of bathroom breaks and opportunities for exercise, too. A worn-out dog tends to be a less stir-crazy dog—as a result, a more cooperative dog.
Give your dog plenty of toys and treats to keep him occupied during the ride (and reward his good behavior, of course).
For dogs who experience travel anxiety or motion sickness, try Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews. These tasty chews are made with natural ingredients to calm and soothe an anxious pup.