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Keeping Dogs Safe and Calm in the Car

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Keeping Dogs Safe and Calm in the Car

By Lisa Spector, Canine Music Expert, Juilliard Graduate, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.

My dogs, Sanchez and Gina, can often be found riding in my car. I don’t have a completely fenced in yard at home, so I opt for a lifestyle in which they are with me often. I work from home, so when I run local errands, they hop in the car with me. Fortunately, there are many dog friendly businesses in my town. They are welcome at the bank, UPS Store, local hardware store, and many outdoor cafes. I take great pride in the care I provide for them. I train with humane, non-aversive training methods. They are socialized and very well mannered when I take them to public venues, and are paid extremely well for their calm, attentive behavior. Gina takes agility class with me and Sanchez does canine music freestyle.

As you can imagine, I don’t react well when my treatment of them is criticized by an uneducated person. Such was my feeling when I heard the question from a stranger (said with disgust) … “Why do you make your big dog ride in a cage in the car?” Funny, I’ve never heard anybody ask a parent, “Why do you make your child where a seat belt?” or “Why do you put your baby in a baby seat in the car?”

Besides, it’s not a cage, it’s a crate. And I don’t “make” him ride in it. My dogs love getting in their crates. From the first day with me, I conditioned them to learn that their kennel was a safe, comfortable, cozy place where good things happened. At first, they were fed in their kennels. Then they were rewarded with treats for being calm and quiet in their kennels. Gina is a bundle of energy and she instantly calms down when she happily hops into her kennel.

The American Humane Society reports that an estimated 100,000 dogs die from riding in truck beds alone each year. And that doesn’t include the dogs that die from jumping out of car windows or dogs who are unsecured in the car during a collision. reports over 6 million car accidents every year. Accidents are caused by a variety of factors and being distracted by a roaming dog in the vehicle is one of them. Many dogs involved in car accidents could have been saved if they were in a secured crate or were wearing a doggie seat belt.

Yes, your dog may love to stick his head out the window and feel his ears blow in the wind. But, neither one of you will be happy when debris lands in his eyes or you have to come to a quick stop and he gets thrown from the car. Never introducing him to this option in the first place would be a good idea. And making the crate a fun place where he finds comfort in the car can be just as enjoyable for him.

Next: Tips for keeping dogs calm during car rides

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Humor & Inspiration, Pets, Safety, Uncategorized, , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


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10:58AM PST on Jan 31, 2013

I have lots of memories of my one dog "Puppy" riding in the car. She would be restrained with the seat-belt and look out the closed window. If she saw something that made her excited {a bird, or a deer for example} she would instantly smell the vent to find out what it was. Of course, we lived in the country back then. Now, I wouldn't want to take a dog anywhere except in a kennel. There are too many uncaring jerks on the road.

6:24AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

thank you for sharing

3:24PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

thank you!

1:03PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Thanks for the information

8:02AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Thank you

11:01PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thank you for this helpful information,. The figure of 100,000 dogs is staggering and very sad.

12:58PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011


11:16AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

I appreciate that the author of this article emphasizes safety for animals, in vehicles and at home (not leaving dogs at home in yard that's not completely fenced; crating or otherwise restraining them when in vehicles). I want my pack to be with me for absolutely as long as possible, and keep them as safe as I can, with great quality of life!

10:43AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for posting about pet auto safety. "The Driving Edition: Music to Calm your Dog in the Car" is a great idea!

9:15AM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for the advice.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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