CRUISING CANINES: DOG SAFETY IN CAR
Recently I was reading about how many people travel with their dogs and, interestingly, how this can actually reduce stress during transit for the same reasons having a dog in your household can – basically because they’re awesome. Most of what I’ve read out there discusses which safety precautions work and which don’t, but in all of this reading what I didn’t see was anyone discussing an idea that seems pretty basic to me: Why?
Now what I mean by that is: Why are you taking your dog along for the ride? I’m not just talking about considering dog safety in car, in transit, or the potential dangers that transport can lead to. Obviously when it’s vet trip, heading off without your furry friend would prove rather pointless, but for most outings having a four legged copilot is simply a matter of preference. I know some animals seem to be natural travelers and enjoy taking trips. To me that seems reasonable. Yet some animals don’t enjoy it at all. They wind up getting stuck for long periods of time in a place where they can’t eat, or drink, or potty if they need to. They can’t access their toys, or curl up on their favorite, cushy bed. Being in a vehicle takes a lot of the standard options an animal has away and it’s not like they can ask you to pull over for a burger if they’re hungry.
Being in the vehicle isn’t the only problem either. I’ve seen many canine companions that arrive at their destination and are left without supervision, or direction as to how they should proceed in foreign surroundings. I’ve even encountered owners who warn me against petting their dogs, not on leashes, because they might bite! Now why would you usher your pup to and fro, with little or no guidance, knowing they might stir up some pretty serious problems?
The only reason I can land on is that people continue to repeat a behavior that they have been for a very long time now. The general idea being that what pleases the owner comes first while everything else is secondary. I’m not saying every person who forgets, or throws caution to the wind, is horrible, but it does bring me back to questioning why people take their dogs along when it’s more about what the person wants and less about the animal’s happiness. It seems like a pretty easy box to check. If Spot gets lonely at home and travels well, go for it. If Patch thinks car rides are a blast, sure why not? But if Bastion Barker the 3rd seems unhappy getting chauffeured around the neighborhood, why put him through it unless it’s necessary?
All that said, it’s also important to ensure the animal’s safety while on the road. A fairly standard collision can seriously harm an animal that’s left to ride without precautions. There are a lot of different things on the market and it might take some trial and error to figure out what works best, but in the end it seems like the only one the experts – both animal and auto – sign off on are crates. Being boxed doesn’t sound like much fun, but the point is securing the dog so they don’t get flung across the vehicle during impact. Some owners might find that they can compromise with a combination of restraint and freedom, which can both easily be about keeping your pet safe and also happy during their outing.
The point here is really about thinking first and making sure you’re considering your options. Most of all- considering your dog. Since most of our favored four-legged friends go along with whatever their humans ask of them, that means their humans have a great responsibility to consider what their canine brains might not be able to think of and what their barking voices just can’t express. So if you’re already one of those puppy pals that’s on it, excellent! And thank you! Yet for those who maybe haven’t been looking at these ideas too closely, please don’t forget, your furry friend is depending on you.
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