Spring is here, at least where I live, and with more things opening up and people starting to venture out a bit more, I thought I’d cover some dog car safety, including management and training! If you’re traveling, short or long distances, with your dog in your car, here’s some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t let your dog ride in your lap. Not only is this a huge distraction to the driver but it’s incredibly unsafe and in at least one state, NJ, it’s illegal. In NJ, driving with pets loose in the car is a violation of animal cruelty law and can be punished with a ticket of $250-$1,000 and as much as six months in jail. Pets hanging out the window, riding in the back of a truck or curling up on the driver’s lap are among ticketable offenses under the law.
- Don’t let your dog ride unsecured. According to a 2010 AAA survey, 20 percent of people admitted to driving with pets loose in the car and 31 percent said doing so was a distraction. Dogs should ride secured with a harness in the backseat or in a secure crate to prevent becoming a projectile in an accident, and to not be a distraction to the driver. Research your purchases, as some harnesses and crates only prevent distraction and are not actual crash protection, like childrens’ car seats. The Center for Pet Safety does crash tests to test out products. My favorite crash test rated harness (and the one both my dogs use) is the Sleepypod Sport. You can see the videos of iit being tested here. MIMVariocage is crash test rated and is a great crate option. Don’t think that crash test rating makes a difference? View the video of a regular travel crate secured with a seatbelt here.
- Keep your dog’s microchip information current. In the event of an accident, if your dog were to be separated from you, a microchip (or GPS tracker like Whistle or Fi) will help possibly reunite you.
- Keep a dog first aid kit in your car. If that includes any medication, be sure to update it regularly, as heat can cause many meds to lose their efficacy.
- Know where the local emergency hospital is, especially if you’re traveling out of your immediate area, away from your vet.
- Train a solid Wait with open car door, so your dog doesn’t jump out into traffic or other dangerous situations. Video of this here:
- Use caution when dog and baby/toddler both share the back seat. Toddlers and babies can be unintentionally grabby, and if your dog and child are sharing a tight space, this could scare or hurt your dog, causing him to growl or bite. A divider like a Backseat Wally can help, or if you have multiple rows, I suggest they be confined in different rows.
- Don’t leave dogs in hot cars. As the weather warms, remember, cars heat up very fast, even with the windows cracked. Dogs in hot cars are subject to heat stroke or death, so use caution and common sense.
If you’d like some help on training wait or other basic skills, these sessions are easily done via remote video sessions so it doesn’t matter where you are in world – I can help you! See all of my service offerings here. And side note, if you dog gets carsick, talk to your vet. There are medications that can help make the ride enjoyable for everyone!
Happy spring! Stay safe!