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Riding in cars with dogs

When travelling with your dog, the back seat is the safest spot.

When travelling with your dog, the back seat is the safest spot.

By Rachel Schoutsen
Presenter, The Weather Network
Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 9:54 AM

So they have suckered you in? I don’t blame you! How can you say no to that cute face and wagging tail saying, "take me with you!"

Having your dog join you on a road trip can be lots of fun. Here are a few things to consider before you reverse out of the driveway.

Know how your dog will react to the car 

Dogs can be a pleasant passenger, snoozing away the entire drive. Or they can be constantly panting in your ear, which is likely a sign of nerves and anxiety. It is important to know how your dog will react to the car, especially if you plan on a lengthy drive. If your dog is hyper and nervous in the car, a sectioned off area, such as a crate, will be best. This also protects you as the driver from distractions.

Pet expert, Angel Wong from vetratingz.com, recommends bringing, “treats with ingredients like Lavender that has a calming effect on dogs.” You can also, “try to rub a drop [of lavender] on their paw or in the car around the area where your dog will stay.” 

Wong also suggests a test drive before the big road trip so you dog can get a feel for being in the car, if not already accustomed. 

Do not over feed 

A full belly can lead to a big mess in the backseat. It is best to feed light meals before the road trip to avoid carsickness and bloating. When you have arrived at the final destination, return to feeding regularly. Don’t forget to pack water to keep your dog hydrated. 

Know the plan 

It’s always best to know exactly where you are going. Pit stops along the way are a must with your four legged friend. Plan to make a stop every 1 – 2 hours so your dog can find some grass and well, you know the rest. Also make sure the final destination is a pet friendly area. 

Play it safe 

We always hope for a smooth road trip, so don’t test the waters. Keep your dog’s head in the car. Sure, they look cute slobbering out the window, but it really is just asking for trouble. Also a dog should not ride on the driver’s lap or passenger seat. The back seat is the safest spot for the dog. 

Wong stresses not to, “leave your dog alone in the car especially on hot sunny days. If you must leave him for a few minutes, make sure you leave windows open to introduce enough air flow.” 

You are now ready to hit the road! Depending on how long you are away, it could be useful to bring your dog’s health records and any medication they may need. Always make sure their tags and microchips are up to date in case you do get separated. 

Wong also recommends to watch signs of sudden anxiousness. “It's always good to just pull over, talk to them, let them out and give them a lot of love and reassurance that everything is all right. As soon as they're calm, give them treats or praise.” 

A well groomed dog can also make the trip a little better. No one ever buys the “dog’s breath” scented air freshener. And last but not least, enjoy the ride!

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