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Creating the Best Vehicle for Your Dog

By Andrew Kaleita

According to AAA, 80% of dog lovers take their dogs on the road with them frequently. A dog sticking his head out the window and letting his tongue flap in the air is an iconic American image that stands alongside baseball and apple pie. Dogs love to travel, and we love to travel with them. However, if you are going to take your dog for a ride, you should do so in a vehicle that is comfortable and safe for him and for you.

Dog lovers have made their desire for dog-friendly vehicles known to car manufacturers. Vehicles designed with dogs in mind will have features that a typical car cannot match. These dog-friendly features can include a built-in kennel, spill-proof water bowl, stowable ramp and even a cooling system designed with your dog in mind. This type of vehicle is certainly one way to go…

Unfortunately, buying a new dog-friendly vehicle is often costly. Here, we offer considerations so that you can find or create a vehicle that suits your dog’s unique needs.

Dealing with Fur

While some car seat materials resist dog hair better than others, the best way to keep dog hair off of your seats is to groom your dog. Brush your dog’s coat well before you take her for a ride, and brush her hair very well if you are about to take her on a lengthy road trip. Use a vacuum or lint roller to remove dog hair that does find its way onto your seats. You may also buy a dog seat cover to help protect your seats.

Potty Problems

Your dog may forget his potty training on the open road, especially if he is not used to riding in a car. Dog seat covers can help protect your seats from an “accident,” and most are machine-washable. If he does go on the seat, then standard cleaning products can handle the mess, and you should try to always have some in your car. Walking your dog before a car trip (and frequently during longer road trips) is recommended as an extremely helpful preventative measure.

Keeping Dogs Calm and Safe

Although most dogs are calm during car rides, this may not be the case with yours. She may not stop barking, may attempt to jump into your lap while you’re driving, or move wildly around the car interior. You should attempt to correct this behavior through conditioning and training. The goal is to stay calm and assertive, and to let your dog know that the car is a safe place where she can relax.

Carriers or crates can be potentially good ways to drive your dog around, but you have to make sure that you buy the correct size. Too small and your pooch will be incredibly uncomfortable as they try to squish in. Too big and they can be tossed around and banged against the sides of the carrier. Neither one sounds very pleasant.

Additionally, it’s wise to strap carriers down so that they don’t go flying whenever the car makes sudden movements. It’s also important to choose a good quality crate, Cesar Millan prefers the ProLine dog crates, see Cesar’s tips here on what to look for when selecting a dog crate.

Avoid the Dog Clown Car

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and luckily so do vehicles. Make sure that your chosen vehicle is large enough to comfortably accommodate both your dog and a dog carrier. Don’t forget that often times you can manipulate the seats of your vehicle to create extra space.

Cars designed to be dog-friendly are excellent conveniences for dog lovers, but they are not the only path to a satisfying driving experience with your dog. Take steps that are within your budget to acquire a vehicle that suits your dog, or to modify a vehicle that you already own.

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