While some dogs would rather sleep on the rug at home next to the proverbial fireplace, others pine for an active lifestyle filled with adventures. And some equally active owners are more than happy to oblige.
But just throwing your dog in the car can have lethal consequences for you and your pooch. Whether he or she is riding shotgun or lounging in the back seat, keeping your dog unsecured in a moving car can turn your four-legged friend into a furry projectile. He or she can be killed or get seriously injured either by smacking into the dashboard or seats, flying through the windshield or getting pummeled by the airbag.
And it gets worse when you have other passengers. Every dog-lover loves snuggling his or her pet, but most certainly not at 100 kilometers per hour, where “man’s best friend” can leave you with broken bones or worse. It’s the stuff of gruesome nightmares for anyone who likes dogs.
To help inform the motoring public about this issue, Chevrolet Philippines teamed up with BetterDog Canine Behavior Center for “Travel Tails,” which was held on July 23 at Chevrolet Pasong Tamo in Makati City.
“Chevrolet considers dogs as important members of the family,” said Chevrolet Philippines president Albert Arcilla in his opening remarks at the event. “Our company wants to provide mobility for animals.”
Getting the right equipment
Jennie Cerrada and Elsie Araneta, BetterDog’s trick-dog instructor and head instructor, respectively, told Fast Times there are many products in the market to make a car dog-ready and dog-safe.
One is the crate, which is a large, vented box where a dog can stay inside that can either be placed in the cargo area or on the rear seat. For the latter, Araneta said the crate can be held down with the rear seatbelt.
“But if your car doesn’t have a rear seatbelt, you can squeeze it in between the rear seat and the front passenger seat,” she said.
According to Araneta, crates are available at pet shops in the popular shopping centers at P4,000 to P6,000, depending on the size.
Cerrida said larger dogs, like her Golden Retriever Hunter, would be more comfortable riding in the back seat. In this case, she said getting a seat cover would make sure that fur and drool won’t ruin the interior. She said the seat cover can be had at any pet store for less than P500.
Cerrida also said investing in a body harness that can be attached to the rear seatbelt is a must when a dog rides in the back seat.
“Using a collar is dangerous because in the event of a crash, your dog could be strangled to death by the force of the impact,” she said.
They said harnesses are available at Pet Express, Bow & Wow or online. For a dog the size of a Golden Retriever, Cerrada said one costs P3,000 plus P700 for the seatbelt buckle strap.
Training to stay calm
Dog owners may have the right equipment, but one can’t just shove a dog into a crate and drive off.
“It’s important for the dog to like the box,” said BetterDog owner Jojo Isorena. He said motorists can train their dogs to consider the crate as a safe place by feeding him or her in it or by letting him or her sleep in it.
Araneta said her four-year-old Border Collie, Rio, actually prefers sleeping in his crate when at home, so transporting him in it is quite easy.
Chevrolet and BetterDog also shared other tips for dog owners:
• For dogs with motion sickness, take a few practice runs so they get used to riding in a car. Isorena also recommends not feeding your dog at least three hours before traveling, so that he or she doesn’t throw up.
• For dogs that get antsy in the car, a chew toy or treat can keep them pre-occupied.
• Never leave a dog alone in a parked car especially on a hot day. Even with the windows open, he or she could die from heat stroke. Also, unattended dogs could be “dog-napped.”
• Identify pet-friendly stops along your travel route, especially for longer journeys. Isorena said it is important to let your dog go to the bathroom every two or three hours. It also give drivers a chance to take a break from driving.
• Some people food, such as chocolate, can be lethal to dogs. Make sure that dogs can’t raid the food stash.
• Bring a recent photo of the pet—should the owner get separated with the dogs. At the same time, Isorena recommends to always keep the dog on a leash when out of the car.
New trailblazer variant
During the event, Fast Times got a chance to talk to Lyn Buena, Chevrolet Philippines senior vice-president for marketing, who showed off the features of the recently revealed Trailblazer LTZ SE 4×4 variant that was used as a demo car at the event.
“One of the most notable features in this variant is the standard Android navigation system and Wi-Fi hotspot,” she said. “These are useful not only for getting around, but for finding help in case you have a doggie emergency.”
The new Trailblazer variant, priced at P1.788 million, also comes with up to 2,175 liters of luggage space (with the second- and third-row seats folded) for carrying a dog and all the stuff a family needs for an outdoor excursion. Buena added that the Trailblazer’s reduced noise, vibration and harshness levels make sure a dog can feel relaxed while cruising along.