Do I need a dog seat belt? 3 ways to travel safely with
No one likes to be left home alone, and that goes for your dog, too. Many people like to bring their dogs along for a ride. Of course, many dogs love going for a ride. “Wanna go for a ride?” is a question that might get your dog’s tail wagging furiously and leave the excitable pooch waiting impatiently by the front door.
Our companions like to go with us anywhere, especially if treats might be involved!
However, bringing him along with a car full of kiddos can be an adventure. Are you ready for it? Your own children might be used to your dog in the car, but not everyone will share that familiarity.
Here are a few ideas that can help riding with your pooch be a safe, fun experience for everyone involved.
Tip #1: Educate the Passengers
Not all children have pets at home. If they’re unused to dogs, they might be afraid, and this can make your pet nervous, too. A nervous dog can act unpredictably, including in ways that might distract drivers or upset your young passengers. This is a potential driving hazard, but at best is still a possible point of upset for the entire carpool.
Before starting your carpool route, invite the families of children who will be riding with you in your car to your home for a pet party. Show them the tricks your dog can do. Let them touch his fur, scratch his tummy, and feed him treats.
If your pet is hungry, let the children put a scoop of food into his dish. Familiarity will put them at ease, and also put your nervous dog at ease, too.
You can even show them how to take care of a dog using items like a Melior dog toothbrush, brushing a dog’s fur, and clipping nails. Taking time to help children get comfortable with your pet will make everyone feel happier during the car ride.
After some time, the entire trip will become routine, and both kids and dog will be happy to see one another and share a ride.
A big part of making this process easier is making sure your dog is well-trained. Proper socialization at an early age is helpful, especially with your children. Dogs tend to be very protective, especially if they grow up alongside children.
Older dogs can sometimes have little patience for overeager kids who like to pull on ears, pinch fur, and bend tails the wrong way—which is understandable!
Socializing a dog early is a good way to curb aggression later in life. Likewise, be careful with larger breeds, or those who have a reputation (deserved or not) for being more aggressive. It’s not that they are necessarily any more a risk than their smaller counterparts, but parents may become nervous, and small children might find larger dogs a little scary.
If your dogs are spayed or, especially in the case of males, neutered, it can help to curb any problematic behavioral tendencies.
Tip #2: Insist on Safety Belts
Seatbelts save lives. This goes for your children, your neighbor’s children, and your pet, as well. If the children in your car are small, use booster seats. This will ensure that the safety belts cross over the children’s shoulders rather than bumping up against their necks.
Dog seatbelts are designed to do exactly what they do for humans, with some changes to accommodate our four-legged friends. Some safety belts for pets allow your dog to roam the car a little more than others do. On a family trip, this could be fun. However, during carpool, your dog should be tethered a little more securely so he feels comfortable with his place and with the extra company.
Consider using something like the Melior mesh dog harness seat belt to give him the support he needs. An added benefit of using a dog seatbelt is that the children who see you buckle in your pet will know you’re serious about car safety, and they’ll be more likely to buckle up, too.
Note that pet seatbelts are important to use even if your dog is otherwise well-behaved on a car ride. Securely buckling in your pet pooch protects him as well as everyone else.
Maybe the kids are especially rambunctious in the morning and it might set your dog to a more high-energy state, increasing the risk of unforeseen complications.
For example, consider that another car may pull up next to yours with a dog in it. The dogs may bark excitedly at one another through the open windows, and pace or hop around in an agitated state.
This is usually nothing to worry about, especially for owners who are used to this behavior. But for the kids in your carpool, this could be a very alarming scenario, and if they react with fright, it could just make things worse.
A dog seatbelt will do wonders to help secure a nervous dog, but also to help keep your dog from becoming nervous in the first place. A calm dog is a happy carpool experience for everyone involved.
Tip #3: Build a Routine—and Make It Fun
Children and pets thrive on routines. Like wearing a seatbelt, routine provide security so they can more fully enjoy life. This extends to your daily carpool excursions, and it can even include who sits where and the order that children get into the car.
Dogs learn to recognize locations and are good at anticipating the routine appearances of people they like, especially family members. If your dog is excited to see your carpool passengers, your pet-bearing carpool is already off to a great start!
Singing a welcome song every morning when everyone is in the car can be a fun way to start the day with your kiddos and their friends. For your pet, make sure everyone has a chance to scratch him behind the ears and say hello before they buckle up.
On the flip side, make sure that things don’t get too noisy and chaotic. This can be difficult with children, especially in the morning, but too much sound and activity might leave you with a nervous dog.
It’s also a good idea to follow the same route every day, if you can. If you’re dropping children off at different schools, they’ll know what to expect, so getting in and out of the car in the loading zones will go more smoothly. It’ll be fun for your pet, too, because he will feel included and still get to enjoy the sights.
Dogs respond especially well to routine encouragement. Bring some treats along for the kids to give your dog as they are dropped off, if he behaves properly. It won’t take him long to get the right idea about how he should act, and kids also find it fun.
It’s a win-win for both kinds of our passengers. Soon your poochie pal will begin associating the dog seat belt with treats, friends, and fun.
This sort of encouragement requires a bit of monitoring to keep perfectly safe. An overzealous dog might try to sneak snacks from your passengers, or the kids may give the dog treats even when he’s doing something undesired. It’s fun to give dogs treats, especially for kids!
You might be better off keeping the treats upfront with you, and then you can give them to the child to give the dog upon completing another safe routine.
Follow these tips to have a safe and enjoyable carpool experience with your furry friends in tow!