How-To Guide

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

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Whether a car ride is a rare treat for your dog or they’re used to bounding into the backseat for a road trip, it’s smart to think safety first. In an accident, your dog could become a forceful projectile resulting in injury to itself or others. I know, it’s awful to even think about! Please check out our tips and suggestions to make sure that you and your dog stay safe while enjoying ride together:

Get your dog acclimated to your vehicle
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Get your dog acclimated to your vehicle

You can start out small, by helping them get in and allowing them to explore with their noses. Start with a parked introduction, then slowly work your way up to a slow driving tour of the neighborhood, then a small ride around town. They will be less likely to panic in a familiar car with familiar smells, and they’ll soon learn that it’s nothing to be afraid of – unless it’s a trip to the vet!

Help them into your vehicle with a pet ramp
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Help them into your vehicle with a pet ramp

If you have an older dog, or a small dog who likes to load himself, pet ramps are a great solution. Also, if your dog and its joints are getting on in years, a simple ramp can take the strain off of having them jump or climb into the vehicle by themselves. Be sure to take a look at Discount Ramps’ convenient guide to picking the right pet ramp before you make a purchase!

Don’t let your dog sit on your lap while you’re driving
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Don’t let your dog sit on your lap while you’re driving

Even if your dog feels the most comfortable in your lap, be aware that in many states, that’s a ticketable offense if you get caught while you’re driving. The danger is two-fold – smaller pets might get caught underneath the brake pedal as they explore the driver’s bucket, or they might simply distract you by licking your face or trying to peer out of your window.

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Enable your power window lock
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Enable your power window lock

Distracted driving is an enormous factor in motor vehicle accidents, and the last thing you need is to take your attention off the road when your dog starts opening the window by himself. Not only will it be an unpleasant surprise for you, it might also be a surprise for your dog! Either your fluffy sweetheart will become overly excited and try to jump out, or he might try to retreat to safety in your lap, which spells disaster if you’re cruising along at highway speeds!

Don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window
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Don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window

If you wouldn’t let a small child do it, it’s probably not a good idea for a dog to do it either. When your dog’s head is hanging out the window it’s exposed to any debris that might be flying in the other direction. Dirt, dust, and pebbles can cause facial and eye injuries for a dog, even at low speeds! Ear damage is also a concern if your pup has floppier ears—high wind speeds can cause repeated swelling and nerve damage over time. So as much as they might want to do it, you have to tell them no.

Photo Credit: Reader's Digest
Don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window
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Don’t transport your dog in the bed of your truck

This is another big no-no! There’s absolutely no protection in the bed of your truck for your dog, leaving them exposed to high winds and the elements. Not to mention that if an accident did occur, your furry companion could be flung from the vehicle and possibly sustain serious damage.

Photo Credit: Goodfulness
Use a barrier in larger cars
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Use a barrier in larger cars

There are a variety of barriers on the market to stop pets from bounding between seats and distracting the driver. Some divide the front seat from the back seats, and others are designed to prevent larger animals from leaping out of the hatchback or SUV trunk space into the back seat. The safest pet barriers sit snugly against the frame of your car and will be hard to remove. If you can jostle the barrier or remove it with a simple push, just know that in a serious accident it might not provide a lot of protection.

Consider using a carrier or crate
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Consider using a carrier or crate

The ideal crate or carrier size for a dog is one that allows the pet to stand up, lie down, and turn around without leaving too much space in case of an accident. Crates will also keep pets contained if emergency personnel need access to you or your vehicle – the dog won’t be able to run away, or try to protect you from EMS. It can be very comforting for scared dogs, especially if it’s a crate they are already familiar with. Outfit it with a blanket or chew toy to really make them feel comfortable during transit.

Photo Credit: WoofDog.org
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