Driving With Your Dog

We are dog people – I guess cat people are okay too…

Driving with pets in the car can be nerve-racking for both the pet and the owner. There are quite a few doggo parents here at AA Driving and we feel your pain. This is a helpful list of how to keep yourself and your fur babies safe while you’re traveling. It is definitely dog-centric, because they’re far more likely to be a pain in the behind to travel with because they come in many sizes and are less compact than cats. Cats poop in boxes, and also travel in them.

Seriously, cat lovers; you’re playing the pet game on easy mode and we’ve all noticed. Step up your game and get a dog. You know that if the cat could figure out how to use the can opener, he would totally kill you in your sleep. Let it be noted that dogs under 30 lbs are actually cats, and we all know that cats are useless. We at AA Driving love and respect all pets and their owners, including cats…

Prep The Car For Your Pet

This looks pretty comfortable for humans too…

There are lots of products out there to protect your vehicle and to improve your dogs comfort while traveling by car. Dogs shed, some more than others. If you have fabric seats and have never had the misfortune to attempt to vacuum up dog fur, you are likely unaware of the sort of stress this can cause. You’ll be ripping out your own hair by the time you’re finished getting it up. Leather seats aren’t safe either. Dogs also have nails, and even the trimmed ones can easily pop right through those seat covers. It’s an expensive mistake to make.

Luckily, we have the technology of blankets. Yes, you can use one of yours or buy one that is specifically for the car. These come with handy snaps, so you don’t have to duct tape the blanket to the headrest. These are actually more comfortable for your dog too, especially the covers that are made with the breathing material that keeps your dog cool for summer road trips. There are heated options too, for smaller puppers to keep warm for that winter trip to Grandma’s house.

Keep your hands, feet and HEAD inside the Vehicle at all times

Some dogs love this and we love to see them happy, but this happiness is actually danger in disguise

Awww, doggo looks so happy when his jowls are flopping in the wind. He also looks happy when he’s spotted some other dogs poop on the lawn, yet we don’t let him eat it. It’s actually pretty dangerous to let your dog do this. At 60 mph, a tiny pebble can fly up and crack your windshield. What do you think it could do to your dogs face? Flying debris is actually a huge danger to our pets when they’ve got their heads out the window for any extended period. Smaller dogs have actually been thrown from car windows during collisions and sudden braking. Dogs are also more easily injured, no matter size, if their head is outside of the vehicle and the driver has to suddenly brake. A cracked skull is no price to pay to see your fur baby enjoy some wind in their face.

It is cute to see dogs letting their ears flap in the wind, but it isn’t safe at all. If your dog absolutely loves this and you can’t help yourself, roll the window down for low speed driving. If you’re on the highway, going above 55 mph, roll that window up and turn on the air conditioner instead.

Pet Restraints are Good

Cages only look scary to us because we fear being put into one

Did you know that airbags can kill your dog? Yeah, they’re great for keeping humans alive in a collision, but they aren’t designed for our four-legged friends. Your dog or cat should never be in the front seat of your car, not even on a passengers lap. The safest way to travel with a pet of any kind, is to keep them in their carrier or crate.

If crate trained, your dog actually feels safer in their crate than you may realize. It is a safe-space for doggo. The crate itself actually offers extra protection in case of a collision, protecting your pupper from falling debris. It’s sort of like a built in roll-cage, if you really think about it. While dog-seat belts and other such restraints exist, their effectiveness has not been proven yet. If you can keep your dog in a crate, do so. Make sure they can stand, turn around and lay down in that crate comfortably though. A too small crate increases anxiety and can cause much more distress to your dog than it’s worth.

The VA DMV also recommends crates for traveling with your pets. Letting your pet move around the cabin can be very dangerous. Your dog may distract you, accidentally hit the shifter or even cause you to lose control of the vehicle if they move into an unexpected position. It is currently legal to allow your dog to be unrestrained in the car (except in ME, MA, CT, MN, NH & RI) but that doesn’t make it a good idea. If you’re traveling into one of the 6 states mentioned above, be mindful that the law prohibits unrestrained pets in those states.

Get Your Dog Accustomed to Car Rides

This dog has been riding shotgun since he was born, you can tell…

Dogs aren’t natural car passengers. In most dogs, even pups, it feels unnatural and unsafe to be moving at speed while they are inside of something else. Car rides have been shown to increase anxiety levels in dogs that aren’t yet accustomed to the feeling.

The humane society suggests taking your dog on several short car rides over a couple of weeks to get them accustomed to the feeling of being a passenger in a moving vehicle. If you know that you’ll be taking a road trip with your best bud in the future, you can plan on doing this beforehand so that your dog doesn’t lose their mind during the trip. Its a good idea to get the dog used to the restraints and blankets you may be planning to use as well. Their own scent along with yours inside of the car does help them to adjust and gain a feeling of comfort in the vehicle.

If your guy or gal is still overcome with anxiety in the car, you can invest in things like the ThunderVest and other wearable products that reduce anxiety in dogs. Though they aren’t designed for car rides specifically, I have personally used my dogs ThunderVest to help him calm down in the car. It’s designed to work sort of the way an anxiety blanket (weighted blanket) works for humans. It puts pressure on their chest and gives them the feeling of being held, or in safe restraints. It works in the car just as well during thunder storms and fireworks, which is what it’s designed for.

Never – EVER – Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car

Look how freaking sad he is. How could you do that to him?

This should be obvious. How many stories have you heard about a dog (or a person for that matter) dying in a hot car? It also happens in the winter, except they freeze to death, because their owners are careless. If the temperature is above 70. F or below 35. F, it is not safe for your pet to be left in the car. Even with a window cracked, there is not enough air circulation in the summer for this be a safe environment.

There are 11 states that have made it completely legal to smash in your car window and free your pet, even if they aren’t actually dying. So don’t leave your pet in your car, as someone is likely to destroy your property in defense of your fur babies life; and I can’t blame them. I would take a tire iron to your window too if a dog was in danger. That’s the thing, dogs are innocent; people aren’t. And in CA, CO, FL, IN, MA, NY, OH, TN, VT & WI the law is on my side. VA should join that coalition and make it an even dozen states where the dogs life is more important than your property. Just don’t leave your dog alone in the car at all, it’s a much better plan. I could be passing by, and I don’t really care if I get arrested for freeing your trapped pet because it’s the morally correct thing to do.