When I first got my dog I took her everywhere with me. She would travel with me while I worked (this was before I was a dog trainer) and we would go on frequent hiking trips all over New Jersey and New York. I have to admit that I really didn’t give much thought into putting her in my Jeep – I just opened the door and let her in the back, where she paced around from window to window while I drove to our destination.

Then one day, a speeding sedan ran a stop sign and slammed into my SUV as I was going through an intersection. The impact knocked my vehicle onto its side and sent it sliding twenty feet down the street. As always I was wearing my seat belt, which saved me from sustaining any major injuries. Hayley, my trusty companion, had fortunately stayed home that day. If she had been with me, she would have been thrown around the interior of the SUV and been seriously hurt or worse.

The incident was a big wake up call for me and from that point forward I gave important thought to how I travel with my dog. I don’t know about you, but my pooch is much more than an animal– she’s a family member. And I give her the same care and consideration that I give my children. I would never put my kids into my car without buckling them up and that goes for Hayley as well.

It makes me a bit crazy to see dogs roaming freely in cars with their bodies sticking half way out the windows. Car accidents happen every single day. There are over 16,000 car accidents each day in the United States. To me that sounds like a lot and I’m not taking any chances with my loved ones, and that includes my dog.

So, now Hayley gets seat-belted in just like my family. There are lots of great dog safely devices out there that can help your dog get to where you’re going safely. Personally, I use a comfy harness that secures Hayley in using the shoulder seat belt. They also have some for the little guys as well.

My dog is a 50lb. pit bull and with the seat belt on her head rests perfectly on the open window, allowing her to see out and enjoy the breeze. For small dogs who like to check out the world as it goes by, there are a number of great boosters seats that also keep your dog fastened safely.

The safest place to seat belt your dog in is the back seat. However, if you’re like me and have two car seats taking up the entire back seat, the front may be you’re only option. If that’s the case, make sure you always turn off the passenger side airbag when your dog is in the front. If that air bag does go off while your dog is there the impact will most likely kill him.

Keeping them seat-belted in also helps if your pooch gets car sick by providing him more stability. Anxious dogs also benefit from being belted because they are not able to move as much (the more a dog moves, the more energy they create – and that includes anxious energy).

All in all I can’t think of any reason not to be safe and seat belt your furry best buddy in when you travel by car. Sure, most of the time nothing goes wrong, but I love my dog too much to take chances with her life.

photo by: mysza831

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