Keeping your dog safe while driving in the car is one of the most important things you do as a pet parent. We’ve all see the cute image of a dog enjoying the breeze as his parent drives happily along. The reality however, is that your dog needs to be restrained for his safety as well as yours. A dog who is going back and forth from the floor to the seat or the front to the back is a big distraction to you while you are driving. Even if your dog sits calmly with his head out the window, he could easily be distracted by something you are driving past and jump out or could have something harmful blow in his face.
The little dog that jumped out of a moving truck ran across the freeway
I’ll never forget the day that we were driving to Jackson Hole and saw a truck as it hurriedly stopped in its lane on I-15. A man and son jumped out and ran across the highway chasing their small chihuahua that had fallen out the window while the truck was moving.
The dog was running as fast as he could, crossing over four lanes of traffic and then over the medium and into another four lanes of oncoming traffic. He made it to the other side and kept running and running. The man pulled his son, who wanted to continue to run after his dog, from the highway and they got back into their truck. It was quite a distance to the next exit where they could turn around and try to go after their dog on the other side.
We stopped, but there was nothing we could do other than try to keep the other cars behind us from hitting them. I never stopped thinking about that little dog and wondering if his parents found him safe.
It was a scene that made a huge impact on me. I don’t know exactly what happened, but my guess is that the dog was hanging his head out the window and either fell out or jumped out. It’s amazing he survived the fall on a freeway where the speed limit was 70 MPH. It’s been a few years since I saw this happen and tears still fall from my eyes as I write about it. I can understand the terror and pain the family must have been going through. I hope they were safely reunited. It’s something I’ll never know. It did strongly reinforce what I already knew, your dog needs to be restrained in the car while you are driving.
What car safety product is best for your dog?
There are a lot of different products on the market for car safety. Over the years, the one product that we have consistently liked and used is a Padded Car VestHarness. It’s easy to use and the seatbelt slides right through the back of the harness providing restraint. We’ve also used a variety of car seats from the LookOut Booster Seat to the PupSaver inflatable car seat that acts like a pitchers glove that protects in the case of a crash.
We were involved in a crash a few years ago. We were on our way to doggie day when it happened. My dog was sitting in her Lookout Booster Seat. She fell forward between the booster seat and the back seat and was suspended for a minute. I was glad she was restrained and did not hit the ground, but she was propelled forward. Luckily, she was not hurt. I still have the Booster Seat and its part of our rotation of products that we use at various times. Like anything else, it’s not perfect, but it does have its place. For years we swore by it, now it’s one of many things that we use from time to time depending on the situation.
Keeping them safe is showing them love
I love my little girl so much and always want her next to me. It’s so tempting for me to have her in my lap when I’m a passenger or have her next to me in the passenger seat if I’m driving. But the reality is, it’s not safe. And quite honestly my dog feels more secure if she’s in the back and has less car anxiety.
I wish there were a perfect product. We’ve tried everything out there and all I can say is that whatever you use, please use something. The concept of the PupSaver is great. It’s not perfect for my dog, but I know a lot of people love it and it is a good product. The best solution for us is the Padded Car VestHarness. Keep trying to find the right thing for you and your dog. If your small child put up a fuss about wearing a seat belt, would you let him go without? My guess is of course not. The same should go for your dog. Keep them safe!