Tuesday Training Tip: How Does Your Dog Roll in the Car?

Mama Sally:  Last Tuesday, Rugby and I wrote about training your dog to keep him safe.  Today’s post is along those same lines.  We all really love the romantic image of driving down the street, car windows down, and our dog hanging his head out of said window, enjoying the breeze as we drive.

Here’s a sobering thought.  If a large bug or debris hits your dog in the eye, he can be blinded.  It does happen, and no one thinks a bug or debris can do that.  It can.  “Doggles.”  Goggles for dogs.  They are a must if your dog’s head is out a car window.  They come in various sizes, so be sure to get a good fit, and protect your dog’s precious eyes!

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Front seat only when stopped!!

The primary focus of today’s blog, though is to think about where your dog rides in the car when you travel.  Does he enjoy the front seat, looking out the windshield?  In an accident, that passenger air bag will kill him.  This is why children aren’t allowed to ride in the front seat, but people let their dogs ride there all the time.  It doesn’t take very much impact in an accident to set off an airbag.

Is your dog loose in the car?  Think about the unthinkable.  An accident.  Your dog will become a loose weapon in the car, and he will get thrown all over…perhaps out a broken window…or maybe he’s the reason the window became broken as he was thrown through it.  He may injure a passenger hitting them at a high speed.  What if that passenger is your child or grandchild?

I remind clients all the time that in an accident, you rarely see a car with all of the windows intact.  Many times, windows are broken on impact.  If your dog isn’t thrown through that window, he may escape the vehicle from fear if he’s loose in your car. And where is he going to escape?  The moment he leaves your car, he will likely be right in the middle of the road with moving vehicles all around him!

If he should remain in the vehicle, and rescue help is needed for passengers, he may feel a need to protect his family and passengers and refuse to let rescue workers in the car. Remember that he’s going to be scared from the impact, and passengers may not be able to calm or soothe him due to their injuries.  He may also be injured, and bite out of his fear and pain.

These are things no one ever thinks about, and everyone thinks that it’s never going to happen to them.  It’s best to be prepared, and have a plan in place, and then you’ll have good peace of mind and a safe pooch!

If possible, I think the best way to transport a dog in your car is in a crate.  It offers protection on all sides in the event of an accident.  Your dog won’t leave the vehicle or injure anyone on impact.  If rescue workers need to give medical assistance to passengers, your protector can’t prevent aid from being given.  And, it’s very easy for rescue workers to simply transport your dog….crate and all…to a nearby vet for any medical attention that he needs.  It’s easy and it’s safe.

But many of you probably have dogs the size the size of a loveseat, and a crate isn’t likely to fit in your vehicle.  In the case of large dogs, I would recommend trying to find a seatbelt harness that will at least anchor your dog inside the car in the event of an accident.  He won’t have a crate protecting him from flying debris, but he won’t be thrown through a window or escape through an open one.  A car harness is certainly better than nothing at all.

And I’ll just say that I absolutely cringe when I see a dog riding loose in the back of a pickup.  One of my clients did this with her dogs, tying their leashes to something in the bed of the truck.  At a stop sign in their subdivision, one of her dogs jumped out without her knowledge, and she drove a short distance until she realized what had happened.  Long story short, her dog had ALL of the pads on all four paws burned severely as she was drug along the pavement.  Loose dogs do not belong in the back of a pickup.  If you simply can’t put your dog in the truck with you, crate your dog, and then securely anchor that crate so that even if your vehicle flips over, that crate will not move!

Rugby James:  The Mama always makes me ride in my car crate.  It’s a lil smaller and snugger than my regular crate in the house, but it’s really safe, and I’m comfortable in it.  She puts a soft blankie in there for me, and I getsa bring a polka dottie piggie wif me too.  She gots my tags on a lil fing what is called a “Rubits.”  I gotsa photo of it for you to see what it is.  The Mama puts all of my tags on that….instead of my collar…and then she can hook the Rubits onto the crate sos if there’s an accident, nopawdy gotsa open my crate to see any of my info, on account of I’m a lil scared around new Uprights what I doesn’t know very well.  This keeps everpawdy…including me…safe!  Once we arrive and I get out of my crate, the Mama hooks the Rubits onto my collar or harness and I’m good to go!

We tried a car harness a long time ago, but I gotted super wigged out, and I gotted the straps all wrapped around my leg so tight the Mama almost couldn’t get me out, and I growled a really ugly growl while she was helping untangle me.  So….we use only crates now, and it’s a good fing all the way around!  I lay down and nap while we drive.

Remember, a car is just a way to transport doggers from place to place, so be sure you do it in a really safe way.  Keep your lil furry furends as safe as you can!!

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