On the Road Again – Car Safety and Comfort for Dogs

by DFS-Pet-Blog on May 15, 2017

I’m really happy with how well my dog Mojito has taken to car rides. He is a lap dog first and foremost, so our first few trips left him confused and dejected about being forced to sit in the back seat all alone. We worked through it, though, because letting a dog sit with the driver or even in the front seat is incredibly dangerous for everyone in the unfortunate event of an accident. Besides being a potential distraction up there, a dog is in danger of being hurt by the vehicle’s airbags should they go off.

Mo in his Bolster Seat, waiting to buckle up

Mo in his Bolster Seat, waiting to buckle up

Luckily, Mo does not have a fear of the car itself, or seem to suffer from motion sickness, so I wasn’t totally starting from scratch with him. We began by taking him along on short trips, like to get gas. I would sit in the back seat with Mo, who was tethered to the seat belt with a harness. Every time he tried to get up and crawl into my lap, I had him sit back down in his proper spot, then reward him with a small treat. A lot of talking and reassurance isn’t necessary – it can reinforce his belief that this is something to get upset over. Just keep calmly reminding him to sit or lay down.

At first, I was putting him back in his spot constantly, over and over and over and then over again. I really had to ignore his sad whines, flat ears, and the huge why-me eyes, but after our third or fourth 20 minute drive, he caught on. Once we started on the road and began to pretend he wasn’t there, he would sigh and lay down all on his own.

When we went on our first longer trip to my in-laws, I put in one of his smaller beds just to make it a little more comfy. This was obviously more to his liking, because after that, he would groan and cry if forced to sit on a bare back seat. Once when I forgot a bed, he guilted me into giving him my own sweatshirt! He promptly curled up on it and napped.

Now that it’s summer, we travel quite a bit on the weekends, so I just picked up a Bolster Travel Seat to give Mo his own dedicated car bed. I’m glad to report that he loves it! It’s the smaller 22” version, which covers one seat in the back of the car. He’s a snuggler, so he settled right into it with a sweet potato snack, then slept with his head on the bolster. In fact, once we arrived home again and were unpacking the car, he jumped back in while the door was open and went right back to sleep! For him to do that on his own is the most positive review he can give.

Snoozing on the drive

Snoozing on the drive

Although he obviously loves home best, he puts up no resistance when it’s time to buckle up and get going. I’ve also worked with him not to  get into the car until he’s been told, because a personal peeve of mine is having somebody else’s overly excited dog barrel into my open car. More importantly for his safety, he’s also not supposed to jump out until his leash is clipped on and I tell him it’s okay.

Other safe travel options:

And there are lots more travel accessories here.

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Car Safety and Comfort for Dogs – Pawtorium
September 27, 2017 at 11:57 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat Lounsbury June 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I would like to know if you could send me a catolog for dogs. I use to get one but not for awhile. I sure would love to get it again. Thank you

Ellen B. June 30, 2010 at 7:59 am

Hi Pat – I entered your catalog request into our system. You should receive one in 7-10 business days. Thanks for the request!

Linda July 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

Many people don’t take the time to place their pets in a restraint for safety purposes (the pet’s safety and the drivers’ by the way). So this is good advice. However, when you take a pet for a road trip, safety doesn’t end with just placing the pet in a restraint. The pet needs to be trained so that exiting the vehicle doesn’t become a scene of jumping out the doorway as soon as it has a chance into a street and risking injury or death from getting hit. Dog training is essential to a pet owner for the pet’s safety and the pet owner’s stress levels.

beth December 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I just want to comment on part about not having your pet properly restrained. I was in complete agreement of this until i had an experience where if i hadn’t seen an accident coming, and told my dog to jump into the front seat in time, he would have had shards of glass from the entire back window of my suv embedded in his body and he could have been seriously injured or even died. Basically, the protection of the front seat shielded him from any harm whatsoever and all the glass instead went around us. I still agree that a pet should be restrained, but i also think of that day and so it’s a wishy washy subject for me now. Just something to think about.

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