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Every good dog owner should have some sort of rules for traveling with their dog in the car. However, many pet owners just put the dog in the car and go. Whatever your methods for traveling are, there are a few fundamental rules that you should definitely be aware of. Here are three rules for traveling with a dog in the car.

Rule #1: Keep Your Dog Restrained

Approximately 29% of dog owners admit to being distracted by their dog while driving. Honestly, this statistic seems a little low to me. Regardless, you should always keep your dog restrained while in the car. Many people don’t, but it’s for the safety of everyone. In fact, many states have laws requiring all pets inside of a vehicle to be restrained.

Dog Car Rules Keep Your Dog Restrained

By driving with a pet unrestrained, you are putting everyone at risk. Not only could your dog distract you causing an accident, but if you do get into an accident, your dog is more prone to injury while unrestrained.

Additionally, you should never drive a truck with your dog in the open bed of your truck. Even if you restrain your dog, an open truck bed is an extremely dangerous place for a dog. Dogs fall and jump out of truck beds all the time.

In fact, it is common for dogs to be hung by their necks when restrained because they fall out of the truck bed and are attached to a leash.

Rule #2: Bring Water for Your Dog

You can stop for your own drink while traveling, but always bring water for your dog inside the car. Cars can be hot, confined, and often uncomfortable places for your dog. You should always make sure your dog has water available in the car. This might be one of the most important “dog traveling in car” rules.

Dog Car Rules Bring Water

Although you don’t have to keep water out and ready all the time, your should periodically offer your dog some water. Dogs can get overheated and dehydrated in the car.

Personally, I freeze several bottles of water before I take road trips with my dog. You see, I have a husky. Huskies in particular can overheat very easily. When we start the road trip, I put the frozen bottles next to her so she can lick them if she wants to. Sometimes she will even lay on them to help keep her cool.

In addition to that, I also have cup holders in the back seat which I like to keep a cup of water in for her. She’s been trained really well so she doesn’t make a mess with her water. So my dog does have water available pretty much all of the time when we take trips.

Rule #3: Stop Frequently

Even if you don’t feel like you need to stop, you really need to stop at least once every 2-3 hours when traveling with your dog in the car. You should stop, get them out, and walk them for 20 to 30 minutes.

Dog Rules Car Stop Frequently

There are many great places to stop with your dogs on road trips. Many places are “dog friendly” and have little grassy dog areas where your dog can do her business. When you stop, your dog might be overstimulated at first trying to explore a new place. It’s very common for dogs to have a hard time doing their business when you stop for breaks. So be sure to try to give them some time to do so.

Whatever you do, you should try to never leave your dogs in the car by themselves when you stop. This can cause a number of different problems. If nothing else, take turns with other family members or people you are traveling with to stay in the car with the dogs. This can be difficult if you are the only person traveling with the dogs.

If you absolutely have to leave the dogs in the car, I have what I call the “two key” method. I have two keys to the car. One for leaving the car running, and another for unlocking the car when I get back. I leave the car running with a properly working air conditioner turned on. I put sun blockers up in the windows to produce shade and to keep people from messing with my dogs. I keep frozen bottles of water in the back of the car with my dog. Then, I make sure I’m gone for less than 10 minutes. I set a timer on my phone. My dog stays RESTRAINED in the back seat.

To be honest with you, many animal people will tell you not to do this and that it’s wrong to ever leave a dog in the car. Some states have actually passed laws where if someone sees a dog in a car, they can break out the windows and let the dog out.

Let me just say, if someone ever does this to my dog, it’s going to scare my dog and it will probably get injured with broken glass and run away from the car to get hit by another car. Believe me, I’ve gotten notes on my car before when I was gone for 5 minutes at a gas station because I had to use the restroom.

Look… I can’t bring my dog into the gas station to use the bathroom with me.

I also can’t use the bathroom outside. My dog is perfectly happy with my strategy and knows I will be back (probably with treats) in just a few minutes.

One of the biggest dangers to your dog when traveling, is other people that think that they are “animal people.” Some of these crazy pet enthusiasts will steal your dog thinking they are rescuing it. Let me tell you… again… my dog is happier with me than anywhere else in the world.

To be honest, sometimes, these dog enthusiasts are “rescuing” people’s dogs for them to end up in shelters or at the pound. So, if you ever do have to PROPERLY leave your dog in the car, watch out for the dangers of people that think they are animal activists.

Conclusion: These Are The Most Important “Dog Traveling in Car” Rules

  1. Always keep your dog restrained in the car.
  2. Be sure to keep water available to your dog in the car.
  3. Stop to give your dog a break and walk around once every 2 to 3 hours.

Check our our other Dog Safety Facts and as always, be sure to leave us a comment below!

Rules for Traveling with a Dog in the Car Infographic

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