Restrain Your Canine!

Dog Crates In The Car

Does your dog ride shotgun? The idea of “dog as copilot” has always been very attractive to me. I love the visual of (in my case) a woman and her dog, riding side-by-side taking on the world! (Okay, more likely taking on daily errands such as picking up the dry cleaning or a trip to the market, but you get the picture.)

Ever since I was a young twenty-something living in the big city of Chicago, having my dog in the car with me, taking him (and eventually them, as dogs DO magically multiply) everywhere I went, made me feel safe and not alone.

I’ll admit that back in those days I let my 110-pound Rottweiler and my 75-pound houndy-mix ride loose in my big Isuzu Trooper. Of course I did! I wanted to be able to scratch their ears. I wanted to be able to receive their slobbery affection whenever they felt like delivering it. And frankly, I wanted the sense of security it brought me. How were they supposed to protect me if they were locked behind a barrier in the back?

The thing is, it’s terribly dangerous to let your dog ride in the passenger seat. In fact, it’s even unsafe to let your dog sit in the backseat or cargo section of a car if they are unrestrained. Deep down I always knew this, but I buried those responsible thoughts in order to feed my selfish needs and ideal vision of “life with dog”.

However, eventually common sense won out; these days my dogs are safely tucked into their well-secured and comfy crates when we go for a spin.

What changed my mind?

Over time I’ve heard too many horror stories to play dumb. Scary tales of dogs who break their teeth or even their backs by slamming into the console or windshield when the someone slams on the brakes to avoid a crash. (This can happen even when the fender-bender’s been avoided!) Stories of dogs lost roadside when a vehicle flips, panicked and running for their lives; drivers losing control of the car because their dog distracted them. The list goes on and on.

And the thing is, irresponsibly leaving a dog loose in a vehicle is contrary to all of the other wonderful things we do to keep our best friends safe. We train them not to wander and to come when called. We teach them emergency “sits”, secure our gardens, feed them the very best foods, microchip them, ward off parasites with potions and lotions... Yet we voluntarily put them in grave danger nearly every single day when we pop them in a car to “go for a ride”. Seems a bit illogical, doesn’t it?

I am generally not an alarmist, and I really don’t think I’m being one now. Car accidents happen all over the world every single day, hundreds of times a day.

The good news is there are lots of very effective devices available that secure dogs safely in vehicles. And the even better news is that Dawn Ross has already done all the research you’ll ever need to help you find the right restraints for your dog and she’s put it all on her Pet Auto Safety website. To learn more check out Edie Jarolim’s interview with Dawn over at Animal Cafe. Put your mind at ease and please, restrain your canine!