It’s no secret that truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. For many, those long hours represent freedom and opportunity, but it can get lonely. That’s where having a companion pet makes a lot of sense.
Numerous studies have shown the positive effect having a pet can have on your health. Dogs can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and more. Not only that, but people often find that pets help them connect with other people. It’s not uncommon for dog owners to strike up a conversation with other owners when out on walks; even more so if you spot someone with the same breed as you.
Having a dog out on the road can also help give you structure and encourage you to get our and move around for toilet breaks and exercise. But before you head down to the local shelter and start picking out new names for your new road buddy, remember, not all dogs are suited to a life on the road and there are some things to consider.
First, how big is your cab?
If you are limited on space, then a Saint Bernard probably isn’t a great idea. Likewise, a highly active dog that needs hours of exercise won’t be the first choice as you simply won’t be able to meet their needs. Instead, opt for small breeds, who are laid back and have low exercise needs.
1) Shih Tzu
These are ancient lap dogs. Originating from China, they are loyal and affectionate. They adore being close to their companions and are super-friendly. They’ll weigh in around 8-18 pounds in weight so won’t take up too much room in your cab. They are generally adaptable so should take to life on the road no problem. They are relatively high on grooming requirements, so plan a schedule with your grooming salon.
2) Boston Terrier
Another small-in-size-but-large-in-personality dog is the Boston Terrier. These guys are intelligent and very easily trained. They are friendly but can be stubborn – great to add a little character to your journeys! They adore being around people and will get along with most, but they can be protective of their owner. That said, they will only bark when necessary, so if someone is knocking around your trailer, you’ll soon know about it!
3) Welsh Corgi
Originating over the water, there are two types of Corgis. The Pembroke and the Cardigan Corgi. These little guys will grow to around 12” in height, so they won’t take up too much room in the cab! Ranked 11th most intelligent dog, this guy will certainly keep you on your toes. That said, this intelligence makes them easy to train. They are affectionate and loyal – following their owner wherever they go. They too are excellent watchdogs, so you’ll be alerted if anyone sets foot near your trailer!
Despite their reputation as high energy, Beagles can actually be very adaptable dogs. Small in size, but huge in character, you’ll never have a dull moment with a beagle. Single-minded and determined, they can be a challenge to train, but this may be just what you are looking for. The bonus, due to their excellent scent tracking, is that you can keep them occupied with nose-based games and hunts. Once they are tired, you will not hear a peep! He’ll curl up on his bed and sleep for the duration! They love their people, so will be right at home in your cab!
Another scent dog, the “doxie” or “wiener dog” is playful and intelligent. But they can be stubborn, making training a challenge. If you are an experienced handler, this can soon be overcome. Their small size makes them perfect additions to the cab, along with their adoration of their people. They don’t tolerate strangers well, so will certainly keep your cab safe! Their bark is surprisingly loud, but they will only bark when necessary. Be mindful of the health implications of their long spine and prevent them from jumping on and off the seats. That aside, they will be more than happy burrowing into the blanket when you set up camp for the night!
In summary, when you’re out on the road, it can get long and lonely. Bringing a companion dog into your cab can be beneficial to reduce feelings of isolation. Be realistic about the space you have available and whether it’s fair to bring a dog along. Also consider if you can meet their exercise needs along the way. Smaller breeds adapt better to life on the road, and they don’t take up much space!
Always remember to consider your dog’s temperament and personality and whether they will be happy just relaxing by your side.
John Woods is a full-time dog trainer and founder of All Things Dogs. He is a graduate in animal welfare and behavior and spends his spare time volunteering at the local dog shelter.