Living in Southern Alberta, we see dogs travelling in the box of trucks so often that we can become somewhat immune to the sight, or think that this is a safe way to transport your dog. Let me just say: it is not. It is not safe for you, your pet, or those that share the road with you. With a young dog, you never know when they will decide to jump out and chase a squirrel or cat that they see in their peripheral vision, without realizing the consequences. Even the most seasoned truckbed-traveler can be thrown from your vehicle should you ever need to slam on your brakes, swerve sharply, or are hit from behind.
Should your dog be thrown from the truck and be lucky enough to survive, he or she is very likely to be seriously injured from the fall. All too often we see broken or dislocated bones that can be very difficult and expensive to correct. Even without an accident, your pet can be at risk from debris blowing into eyes and ears, physiologically stressed from being in the elements unprotected, or emotionally stressed from passersby invading his/her personal space (a well-meaning child trying to pet a stressed-out pooch could result in a bite injury from even the most loving dogs).
There are a few simple solutions to making truck travel safer for your pet and for those sharing the road with you. One is to use a truck cover (topper) so that your dog can ride safely in the now-enclosed bed of the truck. Another alternative is to securely fasten a large crate to your truck bed and have your dog travel in that. Crates with plastic sides (and airholes, obviously) offer more protection from flying dirt and debris. Keep in mind that both of these options have the potential to become quite hot, so keep travel short on hot days. Lastly, cross-tethering could be used. This is accomplished by fastening a rope on each side of the truck with a short leash attached in the middle for the dog. The leash must be short enough to ensure that your dog cannot fall off of the back or sides of the truck and risk dragging or strangulation. The cross-tethering technique still does not protect him or her from eye and ear debris.
A final word: it is never safe to travel with your dog loose in the back of a truck. Just because they have never jumped out before, or that it has always been fine, or because it’s just a short trip, does not mean that it is a good idea – we’ve seen the oopses! Travel safely