You are reading this article because you probably have not taken your small dog on a road trip. Now that the time has come, you are clueless as to how it is done. You see, dogs need special attention and care during car travel, especially if it is their first time. There is no such thing as a dog who instantly gets used to it. You expect your pooch to panic and get stressed out by the experience. As a responsible pet owner, your job is to make sure the animal is safe from the get-go.
State Laws Covering Safe Pet Travel
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Before I tell you some tips on how to transport your small dog in a car properly, you first must be aware of the different laws governing the transportation of pets. Every state has its rules and regulations. For instance, Hawaii prohibits driving with a dog on one’s lap, and it is obviously because of safety reasons. Most states penalize owners who leave their pets unattended inside a car, while some jurisdictions will fine a driver who incorrectly transports a pet. The rules governing the correct ways of pet transport vary from one state to another.
Most laws covering road travel with a pet only care about the protection and safety of human passengers. But that does not mean you should undermine the importance of keeping your small dog calm, relaxed, and most importantly, safe both during short and long trips. Fortunately, there are a handful of ways to ensure that your next road trip with Fido goes on without any incident.
Safe Ways to Transport A Small Dog in a Car
There is a considerable difference between transporting a large dog breed to that of a small one. The first obvious concern is space. If you are traveling on a sedan or a crossover, bringing an American Bully, St. Bernard, or Great Dane could pose serious problems. The congested space could make your dog feel claustrophobic.
But it is another story if you own a small breed like a chihuahua, Pomeranian, or Yorkshire terrier. Small dogs are likely to be more comfortable when traveling on a vehicle with limited space. But it does not mean there no longer are added requirements. Your small dog will most likely panic the moment you put it inside the car. It is up to you if you can handle the challenge of keeping it calm. Once the pet settles down, the next step is to secure it.
Follow these tips to ensure safe travel:
The only way to guarantee a comfortable and safe trip for your small dog is through meticulous preparation. It means that you should organize all the pet essentials several days before the date of travel. It is especially true if you are planning to be away for an extended time or if you expect to drive for long distances. The last thing your dog wants is to be on the car with bumpy roads that can lead to dizziness and nausea. But if you prepare for it, then you can bring along the stuff you need for the pooch to be as comfortable as possible.
Use a Carrier or Crate
The best and most practical way of keeping your pet safe during a road trip is by putting it in a small dog carrier or crate. But you cannot just use any carrier. Choose a small dog pet carrier that is well-ventilated. You cannot settle for something that lacks breathing room, vents, and mesh because it could suffocate your small dog. You may choose from a handful of design options, including hard plastic, wire mesh, and a soft-sided carrier. If your small dog has a habit of chewing on things when it is stressed, then go for a hard-plastic carrier. Meanwhile, a soft-sided variant offers the most comfort, but it would not last for a dog who munches on those soft components.
Even if you are bringing a small dog with you, that does not mean you just settle for a small carrier or crate. The best one should be roomy enough for your dog to be able to stand, stretch, lie down, sit, and turn around. You do not want the animal to feel that it is trapped inside the carrier for an extended period. You want the experience to be as comfortable as possible, while also guaranteeing that the pet will not get thrown around the car.
Buy the Carrier Ahead of Time
If you do not have an existing carrier, be sure to buy one well ahead of time. The reason is that you want your small dog to get used to the carrier before the trip. The best thing you can do is to take your dog on a series of short drives. You do this so that the animal will gradually become comfortable inside the carrier and vehicle. You can then increase the time that your pet spends inside the car.
When buying a carrier for the first time, choose a model that comes with adjustable straps and harness that you can connect to the seatbelt. Most modern small dog carriers are equipped with these extra features to keep the carrier and the dog in place on extended trips.
Meals Before Traveling
Do not forget to feed your small dog four hours before the departure. I strongly advise against feeding the animal in a moving vehicle because there is a chance that it will make it sick for the rest of the trip. The last thing you want is for it to vomit inside the carrier or in your car’s upholstery. You at least can bring a bowl and water to prevent dehydration.
Transporting your small dog in a car is not as stressful and overwhelming compared to that of air travel. But you must be prudent enough to acknowledge that there are still some risks involved. By following the steps above, you can effectively minimize those risks.