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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Important safety tips

One benefit of raising an ideal dog is gaining a fun travel companion. Traveling together can be a rewarding experience!  A few safety tips are essential when putting a pet in a car.  A pet should never be left alone inside a parked car in the dead heat of summer or freezing cold of winter. In summer, it takes only minutes for the heat to climb to more than 120 F, even in the shade. In the winter, closed cars become refrigerators on wheels and can be as dangerous as the summer heat.  In addition to temperature risks, the pet may be stolen if left alone.
Investing time in reinforcing your leadership and clarifying to the dog the rules of the road, will result in an enjoyable car companion instead of an annoying pest.

Start by having the dog "tag along" on errands

Start having the dog "tag along" for errands as early in the dog's life or relationship as possible. This helps the dog to understand that riding in the car does not always result in a negative experience such as getting vaccinations. Nor does it always result in positive experiences such as going to the park. Take the dog on as many boring errands as possible. The dog's job in this case is to simply "tag along" and hang out in the car as your companion.

The dog must learn to be well-mannered in the car. For dogs who are overly excited, try to exercise them before getting in the car, even if it is only for a two-minute brisk walk. Before entering the car ask the dog to "sit - down - stay." Giving the dog a few preliminary Instructions and exercise help reduce hyperactivity in the car. If the dog is too excited to obey, move away from the car. Some additional time invested in reinforcing your leadership and clarifying to the dog the rules of the road, will pay off for years of a calm passenger instead of an annoying pest in the car.

Providing some form of restraint for the dog while in the car is recommended, especially if he or she continues to be hyperactive. There are several options available: a dog automobile safety belt so he or she can be contained in one spot in the passenger or back seat, a kennel so the dog travels inside this kennel in the back seat or rear compartment if one exists (strap the seat belt around the kennel), or placing the dog behind a barrier that divides the front and back passenger areas.

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