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Dogs, Car Windows and Seat Belts

Posted by Awesome Doggies

Dog-car-windowDoes your dog love to ride in the car? I passed several cars with dogs in them on my way home from work last week. A few of them had dogs hanging out the window -- and it got me thinking. Who doesn't enjoy the feel of a cool breeze rushing through their hair? But is it a good idea to let your dog hang out the car window?

Back in the "good old days" before compulsory child safety seats and a general societal shift toward keeping people safe from their reckless impulses, we used to see kids sticking arms, legs, and yes, even their heads out the windows of a moving cars. Most children loved the sensation, and we never gave a thought to possible hazards. Today's kids are safely strapped in, but it's still pretty common for us road warriors to see other vehicles on the road that have dogs hanging their heads out the window, tongues and ears flapping in the breeze. Why do dogs do it? I think it's the same reason that people used to -- because it's fun.

Dog-hanging-out-of-car-windowIf you've got a dog that loves to ride in the car, you probably enjoy taking them along on longer trips as well as short outings around town. The dog is of course excited to ride in the car for a variety of reasons. For one (and I think this is the biggie), he is getting to go somewhere with you; two, he thinks the possibilities are endless as to where you will end up, and three, it's fun. If your dog loves to ride in the car, they probably would love to stick their heads out the window as much as possible. The breeze on his face probably feels just as good to your pet as it does to you, and with his extra sensitive smelling, it probably feels just amazing. But we don't let dogs and kids do things just because they are fun. As guardians, our role is to keep our loved ones safe.

There are many dangers to letting a dog stick his head out of the window. Small particles of dust and debris, and even insects, can hit your pet - and if they hit the tender tissues of the eyes in particular, it can be catastrophic. You know how hard a bug splats when it hits your windshield? Imagine it hitting you in the face instead. That mental image was all it took for me to quit letting my dog hang her head out the car window. There is also the chance that your dog will squeeze through the window and fall out or run off before you can catch him. Dog get super excited at things they see when you are driving (and even at stop lights). An unscheduled exit from the vehicle is likely to end in tragedy, with your pet getting lost, or hit by another car. And heaven forbid you get in an accident, and your pet gets thrown from the vehicle.

Dog-in-seat-beltThe safest way to travel with your dog in the car is restrain them with a seat belt made specially for dogs. A doggie safety belt not only keeps your pet from being thrown through the window in case of a crash, it also keeps them from roaming around the car, and in particular it keeps them out of the driver's lap. A survey by AAA found 31% of drivers have been distracted by a dog climbing into their lap when driving. When you are driving, having a pet loose in the car really isn't a great idea. You put a seatbelt on yourself, and have your children and other passengers do the same. Why not extend the same care to your furry loved ones? For more on dogs wearing seatbelts, check out what Cesar Milan has to say.  

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