Gone are the days when truck drivers needed to find weird and wonderful ways to hide their dogs in the cab. Most trucking companies are pretty pet friendly now. Not only does taking your dog on the road help cut down on potential pet-care expenses when you leave home, but it also makes your trips a lot less lonesome.
Before you load up, it’s worth double-checking you’ve got everything you need and that you have a plan in place should something go wrong.
First, be realistic.
Is your dog suited to long trips? How big are they? Do they enjoy travelling? Or do they start salivating and panting excessively whenever you open the truck door? You need to be confident that your dog will be able to cope with the time on the road. Will they stay calm in the cab? Is the cab big enough for them? (A 140-pound Newfoundland is going to take up a lot more room than a 13-pound Terrier!
Puppy-proof the cab.
It may take a little work, but if your four-legged friend is going to be covering the miles with you, the cab needs to be completely safe for both of you. Ensure they can’t easily move levers or switches that they shouldn’t. Move foods that you don’t want them to eat, and keep them out of reach in a hard cooler or similar. The same goes with medication – for you or them! It’s also a good idea to create a partition around the driver’s seat so your dog can’t accidentally get underneath the pedals.
Where are you driving to?
Some states require dogs be harnessed while travelling. So aside from keeping you both safe, a secured pooch can stop you from getting hit with an expensive ticket! When purchasing a harness, ensure it fits properly and take them out for a few test-runs before hitting the road. You want to know that they can tolerate being in it for the long haul! While secured, they should still be able to easily get comfortable. They need to be able to sit up to look out of the window, and curl up to take a power nap, but they shouldn’t be a nuisance to you or be able to get anywhere that will distract you from driving.
Plan your routes ahead of time.
If you drive the same lanes regularly, no doubt you’ll develop a routine for when and where you stop to let your dog out for a walk and a bathroom break. If you are heading out on a new route, plan your stops ahead of time to figure out the best places for your pooch. Ideally, you want some quiet spots where they’ll be able to go to the bathroom and not get distracted by a lot of other dogs and people. Remember, the last thing you want is your tail-wagging friend whining and digging at the truck door because they’re desperate to get out but you have absolutely no place of stopping!
It pays to be prepared when you’re travelling with your furry friend. Take plenty of supplies, including water, treats, and the food they like to eat. Some dogs are fussy eaters, and it’ll be very unlucky if you can’t find the food they like when you’re on the road. Not only that, but introducing new foods can cause digestive discomfort, and you will be stuck together in the cab of your truck!
Make sure you pack a dog first aid kit, too. You never know when it may come in handy. Carry bandages, gauze, sticky tape, blunt ended scissors, tweezers, a towel, and an inflatable collar. If your dog does get into trouble, you at least have something to dress an open wound while you get to the nearest vet. Keep a tick-remover tool in your kit. Depending on where you travel, you may find some ticks along the way.
Speaking of veterinarians, it’s worth doing some research of local vets in the areas you will be traveling. Double-check that they accept walk-ins. You hope you never need them, but it’s worth having a plan if the worst happens. If you carry pet insurance, keep the insurance details with you along with any relevant medical history.
Providing your company allows you to take your pet on road, your dog can be a perfect trucking companion. Check the regulations for your company as some require deposits, take money off your base pay, or will penalize you for a range of mishaps. Other trucking companies will have special waste receptacles and even pet runs in their terminals!
Studies have shown that when allowed to take their pets with them, truckers feel happier, healthier, and are better drivers. So, when they can help their human counterpart so dearly, all that remains is to keep them safe in the process!
John Woods is a full-time dog trainer and founder of All Things Dogs. He is a graduate in animal welfare and behaviour and spends his spare time volunteering at the local dog shelter.