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DOG / training & behavior

Tips for Safe Travels with Your Dog


Whether you’re driving a couple of miles or a couple of thousand, you probably like bringing your dog along for the ride. But is your precious pup secure in your car? Just as humans need seat belts in the car, dogs also need some form of restraint to keep them safe while on the go. Of course, accidents can’t be foreseen, so it’s important to have safety precautions in place at all times. Learn these dog car safety tips to keep your furry friend safe and secure, just in case. 


Dog car safety is an important part of being a responsible dog parent. But according to a survey by AAA, only 17% of pet parents use some form of pet restraint while driving. (Many American states currently have laws that make it inadvisable or illegal to drive with an unrestrained dog in your vehicle.)


4 Ways to Keep Your Dog Contained While You’re Driving


To keep your pup safe when you’re on the road, the best thing to do is to keep them restrained. There are several different containment and restraint solutions for cars that can help keep your pup firmly in their seat, so that in the event of a collision or other sudden braking, your furry best friend will be protected. Here are 4 ways to keep your dog contained while you drive:


Dog Safety Harness


Dog safety harnesses are designed to help keep your dog in place if you have to come to an abrupt stop. Most harnesses attach to the car’s seat belt system and keep your pup in place in the event of a collision or sudden braking. They also keep your dog from wandering around the car and distracting you while you’re going down the road. Dog safety harnesses keep your furry friend in their seat (and off your lap) while you’re driving. The best dog safety harnesses help keep your dog safe without putting too much pressure on its neck.  


Dog Booster Seat


Another great tool for dog car safety is a booster seat for your four-legged friend. Dog booster seats are a great option for the petite lap dog who wants to look out the window — and would otherwise be trying to climb on your lap while you drive to get a better view. Doggie booster seats clip onto the seat belt and also harness your pet. 


Car Barrier


Got a nosey pup who loves to wander around your car while you’re driving? Or maybe you have a small dog whose favourite place is your lap, no matter where you are. These habits aren’t necessarily bad, but can cause you as the driver to be distracted. Or, if you have to suddenly slam on the brakes, it could send your poor pup flying. Made of metal, plastic or mesh, car barriers are dividers that block off the front seats, encouraging your canine companion to stay in the back seat.


Hard-Sided Carrier


Plastic crates that serve as a den for your dog at home are lightweight but strong enough for comfy transport and provide safety when secured with a seat belt. Make sure to use one big enough for your dog to turn around in and line the crate with a pad to make it soft and cozy. Travelling with your dog in a plastic crate helps keep them safe by containing them inside the crate, thus decreasing the chances of them being injured in the event of a car accident.


Safety Over Comfort and Convenience


Just because it’s more convenient for you or more comfortable for them, that doesn’t mean it’s a safe practice. Here are a few more ways to keep your pup safe when traveling in your car.


Keep Them Bucked In Tight! Keeping your pup properly restrained could save their life. Many pet parents tend to keep their dogs’ restraints a little looser to keep them more comfortable during their car ride. But this can lead to unfortunate consequences. Tighten your dog’s restraint so that they are restrained against the back of the seat for the best chance of keeping them safe. Having your pup in a booster seat or safety harness won’t help unless you are using them properly.


Keep All Paws Inside The Vehicle! No matter how convenient it might seem, or how much fun your furry friend may have, you should never let them ride in the back of a truck bed. Your curious pup could injure themselves by jumping out, or could get injured if there happens to be a rear collision.  Dogs should never hang their head out the window because they could accidentally step on a button and roll their head up in the window, causing injury to themselves. 


Don’t Let Them Overheat! You should also never leave your dog unattended in your car for any reason. Especially in the warmer months, this can lead to heat stroke and even death. Even if they have access to water while in the car. Since heat rises instantly in a car, it can very quickly become too hot for your dog.


Using these dog care safety tips, you should be able to enjoy car trips with your cuddly canine, whether you’re going down the road or cross country. Bring them on vacation with you or take them exploring. No matter where you decide to take your pet, every day can be an adventure.


After reading all of this, if you feel that traveling may not be the best option for your furry friend, PetSmart offers PetsHotel as another option for dog parents. Your dog can stay at the PetSmart PetsHotel for the duration of your travels and then you can pick up your pup as soon as you return home!


Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.