By Breanne M. Boyle as printed in Fido Friendly Magazine
My Welsh Corgi, Roxy, has a disturbing relationship with my car’s windshield wipers. When those wipers start to swish, her furry little body is flying full speed at the windshield, barking and crying the entire way. She seems to think the wipers are either the best toy on earth or the most evil contraption she has ever seen. If you think its dangerous driving while chatting on a cell phone, try maneuvering in traffic with a Corgi catapulting itself onto your dashboard.
You’ve probably seen a lot of the products offered to restrain your pet in your car, but which is best for you? What types protect well and for that matter, why do I need to use them (especially if you don’t have a hyperactive herding dog)? Just like a child, your beloved family pet needs to be protected while traveling. It’s only fair.
Before you travel, make sure to follow some basic tips for great pup passengers. Avoid feeding your dog right before you leave. Lots of dogs, even those who love to take car rides, can get upset stomachs once they are moving in the vehicle. And if you value your car’s interior as well as your pet’s comfort, you’ll make sure you feed them a few hours before departure. If your dog is particularly nervous about car rides, try using a natural calming supplement. There are many to choose from, but you can start with Happy Traveler from PetChefExpress.com or Sleepy Time Tonic from Happy Tails Spa.
Both of these products relieve anxiety, nervous behavior and over-activity. Because the products are natural, they are non-habit forming. All you have to do is decide if you want a tablet form or a spray.
Once everyone is calm and ready to travel, make sure you
have a restraint system installed in your car, truck, or SUV. There are
tons of options here and it can be daunting to find what works best for
you and your dog. I recommend trying out a few different products until
you find something you prefer. I have been through the little seats and
the full crate method and for me, neither of those worked. I needed to
use a harness that latched into the seatbelts. It depends on you and
There are three main ways to restrain your dog in the car while driving: crate, seatbelt/halter restraint, or a pet car seat. If you choose to use a crate, remember to buy the correct sized crate. A good, and often-used, guideline is that if your pet can get up and turn around comfortably in the crate, it is the right size. Make sure your dog isn’t going to feel cramped or get uncomfortable. You really should tie down or latch the crate into the rear of your truck or SUV if you can. If you drive a car that doesn’t provide floor hooks, you may be able to attach the crate to the rear seats for a sturdier ride. The idea of a crate is to protect them should you have an accident, and most dog crates are made to withstand rough treatment and will add to the protection of your pet.
If you prefer the seatbelt or harness approach, make sure the fit of the harness is correct. It should be snug, so the dog can’t slip his or her leg out, but not so tight that it makes your dog uncomfortable. But how do you find the right one when there are more pet harnesses in the local pet store and online than there are dog breeds? Trial and error. Most pet stores will let you try out a harness and will allow you to return or exchange it if it doesn’t work for you. I would try out a few different ones in the store and see what fits your dog the best. Then take it to the road and see how well it hooks in to your car and how well your dog takes to it. Does it get twisted around too much when your pup moves over to take a sniff out of the window? Does it latch securely? Does it allow the dog too much freedom in the car? Does it not allow enough (is your dog so immobilized that it just lays there)? We found some great options for you to try.
A few of our favorites are EzyDog, PetBuckle, Hug-A-Dog Harness, and TugNHug. These are all great options for latching your dog into the seats. Most of these harnesses also double as a walking harness as well, making it easy to go from car ride to quick walk and back again! While using a harness is great for your pet, it still means they are sitting right on your car seat, possibly scratching the leather or leaving dirt on the upholstery. A great solution to that (sand something I use everyday in my Acura) is a custom seat cover by Canine Covers. They provide seat covers that are an exact fit to your vehicle and can be actually machine washed! My Canine Cover has withstood my acrobatic Corgi for months now so I highly recommend them!
Car Seats for dogs are definitely the cutest option, besides being truly functional. FidoRido.com has some great options for both single and double occupancy. These seats hook in much like a child’s seat and have leash or collar hooks so you can secure your dog inside the little booster seat. A lot of dog car seats are raised to allow for storage underneath and a vantage point for the fur-kids on top, providing functionality for you and fun for the dogs!
With all of these great tips and products available to you, you should be well on your way to happy tail travels!