Truck rides can be exciting for dogs who love see and smell everything that passes by. Other dogs might react fearfully because they associate the vehicle with unpleasant activities like vet visits. Either emotion can cause your dog to try to climb out of the slider window in the back of your truck cab. You can curb this behavior by using one of the safety restraints available for your truck.
Harness and Seat Belt
Harness and seat belt sets are sold specifically for dogs for vehicle use. The harness goes around the dog's body, usually around the shoulders and stomach, and has a D-ring attachment that sits on the dog's back near his shoulder blades. A short adjustable leash clips onto the D-ring on your dog's back and the other end either clicks into the seat belt latch or has a carabineer that fastens over the seatbelt strap. This system gives your dog the ability to sit, stand or lie down while keeping him from getting to the slider window.
Crate or Pet Carrier
A dog crate or pet carrier can be secured either in the seat or in the truck bed. The crate should be large enough for the dog to lie down and stand up but not so large that he will be tossed around during sudden stops or an accident. Crates are usually wire and more open, which offer less protection from the elements and blowing debris. Pet carriers, such as those made for airline travel, are more enclosed and offer better protection. Crates and pet carriers are a good option for dogs who are fearful of truck rides since they provide a den-like enclosure and keep the dog from damaging your truck's interior.
Pet Car Seat
Smaller dogs may enjoy a pet car seat. These seats are secured in the truck using the seatbelt system and a harness in the seat to secure your dog. Another advantage to a pet car seat is that it works as a booster seat so your dog can better see out the window.
Placement of Vehicle Restraints
The safest place for your dog to ride in his vehicle restraint is in the back seat. Many trucks, however, only have a front seat and a truck bed, making it a little tricky in terms of where to place your dog and the vehicle restraint. If you use the harness and seatbelt system or a pet car seat, your dog should ride in the front beside you so long as you can shorten the leash part of the system enough that he cannot get to the slider window. Be sure to turn off the passenger airbag in the truck. If using a crate or pet carrier, it will have to be on the smaller side to safely ride in the front seat. Larger carriers will have to be safely secured in the bed of the truck, preferably one with a truck cap. If you have an extended cab, the safest place for your dog to ride is in the back seat.
By Jodi L. Hartley
Pet Sitters International: Restraining Pets in Motor Vehicles Can Save Human and Animal Lives
Cesar's Way: Should Dogs Wear Seat Belts?
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Pet Travel Tips
About the Author
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.