The cooler fall weather allows dog enthusiasts to resume the enjoyable act of taking our dogs along with us in the car. Even the most dreaded errands are made easier with our best friend along for the ride.
Your vehicle should always be equipped with the basic dog necessities: a leash (no retractable leashes in public areas, please) and secure collar for potty breaks; a supply of water and a bowl to pour it in; cleanup bags, and some tasty treats and chews to keep your pooch occupied while alone in the car.
Although dogs love hanging their heads out the window as we drive, there is a risk of injury to the eyes from colliding with insects and debris. Dogs can be taught to tolerate wearing goggles. Use them on car trips to protect your pet's eyes.
Without question, the safest way for dogs to travel in the car is secured in a crate. In the event of an accident, the dog will not be able to run away from the scene in a panic. Another option for securing your dog is via a canine seat belt. A harness that connects to your regular seat belt system, it keeps the dog from being thrown around the vehicle — or even out of it — if there's a crash. It also keeps the dog from jumping on your lap, which could be the cause of the crash.
Allowing a dog to ride loose in the back of a pickup not only is extremely dangerous, but illegal in many areas. The animal must be tethered, but this is still not a safe form of transport because it leaves it exposed to flying debris and extremely vulnerable in the event of an accident. In addition, improperly tethered dogs can jump or fall out of the truck bed and hang themselves.
If you insist on having your dog loose in the car, take the time to teach it appropriate car-riding behavior. That includes leaving the driver alone and not engaging in incessant barking. Teach your dog the rules of the car during special training sessions when you are not the driver, or from a parked position if you are alone. Attach a leash if needed, and use it to gently teach your dog where its boundaries are. If it's limited to the back seat, make sure the dog is placed back there every time it attempts to move to the front.
A sobering fact that takes a lot of fun out of having your dog along for company is the risk of theft. Always lock your doors when you leave your pet behind, and crack the windows enough for ventilation only. Think ahead about where you'll be going and how long you'll be out of the car. Leave your dog at home if you feel you'll be in a risky area or if you anticipate having to leave it alone for a long period. When you leave the car, give it something that it likes to chew on. That will help settle down the animal and keep it from getting bored and start chewing on something it shouldn't, like the upholstery.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome in some retail locations and even some eateries. But if your dog doesn't enjoy being around strangers or is barky or fearful of new places, this experience won't be enjoyable for either of you. Seek the help of a professional trainer if your dog needs help adjusting to public venues. And always pick up after your dog.
Then enjoy. Every day's a good day when you spend it with your dog.