K-9 Road Trip Tips

Getting a cat to ride in a pet carrier can be a dangerous task. You may find yourself looking for leather gauntlets and some bandaids. Some animals just don’t travel well.

Dogs are a different story. In my experience, dogs love to go for rides as much as their humans do…probably more.

Unfortunately, we often do a terrible job of keeping our puppies safe on road trips. With summer just around the corner, it’s probably a good time for a refresher on the dos and don’ts of traveling with pets.

1. Don’t let your dog hang his head out of the car window.
Yes, we know.. some dogs like nothing better than to ride with the wind in their face. It’s fun for them, and it seems cute to us, too.

But insects, road debris, tree limbs, and other objects can hurt our four-legged friends. And of course, if your dog has a strong prey drive there’s a chance he might make a run for it if he sees a squirrel or rabbit on the side of the highway.

Advice? Put your pup near an A/C vent if you can. He’ll have the wind in his face but no risk of jumping out.

2. Don’t let your pup lounge on the front seat and ESPECIALLY not on your lap.
You wouldn’t put a baby in the front seat. You shouldn’t be doing it with your dog, either. Airbags are an explosive safety device and while they are helpful for a full grown adult, they can kill a smaller passenger. If you have ever been in an accident where the airbag was deployed, you understand how violent it can be.

3. Restrain them with a harness or crate.
Think of your dog like any other passenger. For that matter, think of your dog’s weight and then what that sprawling, kicking, crazy k9 would do to you if he was hurled at your head at 70 miles per hour.

Basically, you have two options for restraining your dog in the car: a harness or a crate. Crates are generally safer, but they’re pricier, and obviously, they take up more room. Harnesses work well for smaller vehicles, though they don’t offer as much protection in crashes.

Subaru teamed up with the Center for Pet Safety and tested a range of products. You can find crash test results and features for a range of harnesses and crates here.

4. Give them plenty of water.
You probably chug bottled water or Red Bull on the road, and your dog needs to stay hydrated too–especially if your car is on the warm side. Unfortunately, many travel bowls aren’t designed for the bumps and jolts of road trips, meaning that your car could be soaked by the time you reach your destination. Look for a spill-proof water bowl to keep you, your dog, and your upholstery dry, or plan to make extra stops.

5. Stop to stretch every few hours.
On long trips, you likely need a pit stop every few hours, even if it’s just to stretch your legs. You might not think that your dog needs a break that often, especially if she’s older and well housebroken, but it’s not a bad idea to give her the chance to sniff around a bit. It’ll break up the monotony of the trip, and it’ll also help you with tip number six…

6. Don’t leave your pets in the car.
This shouldn’t need explanation, however it should be mentioned. It’s understandable, that when you’re traveling by yourself, it can be hard to avoid leaving your dog in the car every now and then, but please, just don’t do it. If you do, you might come back to a broken window and a missing pup — or worse..

You treat your pet like another family member around the house, so let’s make sure you keep them safe when you are away too.