Pets On The Road

There are a lot of drivers today that want a bit of company in the cab but don’t want a team driver or a partner. For some people a spouse or family member can ride along for companionship, but for others the best possible option is to have a dog with them on the road.

Dogs, like people, can make great companions or they may not be a good option. Truckers need to consider several factors when determining if a dog is the right choice in their truck. Taking a bit of time to consider breed factors, size, exercise levels and even the training of the dog and what you want the dog to do is essential before deciding your four-legged co-pilot.

Breed Selection

When you stop at a highway rest station you will find a variety of different dogs out there with their truck driving owners. It is not uncommon to see small breeds of dogs as well as some huge dogs, but there are some pros and cons to each option.

Small dogs are usually a good match in the smaller spaces of the cab and sleeper of a truck. There is really no comparison between a Chihuahua and a Great Dane when it comes to how much space they will take up, especially in the sleeper area of the truck.

Breeds traits are easier to predict in purebreds than in mixed breeds, so if you know you want a particular personality or temperament it choose a purebred from a reputable breeder. Of course all dogs will have their own personality but it is largely determined by genetics combined with how they are raised and socialized.

You may want to think about the actual logistics of a particular breed or type of dog as well. If you choose a long haired breed that sheds you are going to have issues with dog hair as well as possible issues with a wet, muddy companion in the truck on those miserable days. Short haired dogs can also shed but you won’t have long hairs to deal with. Non-shedding or very low shedding breeds are available in all sizes and types, something that is well worth considering.

Energy and Activity Levels

Besides the breed traits and characteristics you will need to consider the energy and activity levels that the dog will require. Many small breeds, including the very popular terriers, are generally considered to be high energy dogs. High energy dogs typically will not mellow out with age and even senior dogs will need lots of time to run and play. This doesn’t mean they can’t be good dogs in the truck, but you will need to schedule regular times for the dog to get out and burn off some energy.

Dogs that are moderate to low energy levels are usually a good match for the more sedate lifestyle of a trucker’s dog. They can be calm in the truck and sit and watch the miles roll by but then ready to get out and run and play when you take a break. Having a dog like this is motivation for you to take a walk and get away from the road for a few minutes every couple of hours or so.

Puppy Or Adult Dog

While it is a good idea to get a puppy used to traveling in the truck as soon as possible, practical issues also need to be considered. A puppy that is not “truck-trained” is going to be a problem and one that can cause distractions when you are trying to stay on a schedule or just pay attention to the traffic.

Puppies, as well as older dogs to a lesser degree, will need ongoing training and socialization. This means that you need to spend a bit of time every day in training and allowing your dog to be around other dogs and people. For most truckers this isn’t a problem and can be a great way to unwind after a long day on the road.

Protection or Companion?

Some truckers want a dog that is there purely for companionship. This really leaves the breed and size selection up to personal preference as well as individual dog temperament. If you want a dog that is also going to be a protection or guard dog for the vehicle and yourself you will want to select a larger dog that will be respected by others.

Not all large breeds are natural protection or guard dogs. In fact, many of the large breeds, especially the popular breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and most of the hound breeds are very friendly and, while they may bark, they are more likely to quickly befriend a stranger than to actually protect your vehicle.

Staying Safe

Regardless of the age, breed and size of dog you choose make sure you have the dog microchipped as well as wearing a collar with your cell phone number and information. In addition have a picture of your dog on your phone so it can be emailed to the various shelters or other agencies in the event that the dog gets lost on the road.

Always talk to your vet about taking your dog out of your local area, there may be vaccinations that are necessary to protect your pet in different areas of the country or when traveling internationally. Be sure to carry your dog’s health and vaccination record with you, especially if you are crossing the border into Canada or Mexico.

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