March 6, 2017 11:58 am
Updated: March 6, 2017 12:54 pm

Travelling with your dog: 4 common questions answered

WATCH: Veterinarian Julie Schell joins Global Calgary with some safety advice for travelling with your dog.


With spring break fast approaching some dog owners may be contemplating a trip with man’s best friend.

Veterinarian Dr. Julie Schell joined Global Calgary on Monday with answers to four common travel questions asked by dog owners.

Can I drive with my pet on my lap?

This should come as no surprise to pet owners, but no, it’s not safe to drive with your dog on your lap.

“You should have your dog restrained — even when they’re in the back seat — with a seatbelt,” Schell said. “There are about five different types [of seatbelts], depending on the comfort level of the dog.”

“Or, a good old-fashioned dog carrier is very safe,” Schell said, adding that carriers should still be strapped in with a seatbelt.

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How do I teach a puppy to ride in a vehicle while restrained?

Start teaching your puppy to travel in a vehicle while restrained as soon as you can.

“The good news is, they’re going to a veterinarian very often while they’re a puppy … so the more practice the better they are,” Schell said.

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She said veterinarians can also provide dog owners with edible herbs to help calm anxious puppies.

Can you teach an older dog to ride in a vehicle while restrained?

Even dogs that have spent years travelling in vehicles while unrestrained can be taught to travel safely, according to Schell.

“It just takes training,” she added.

Schell suggested using a ThunderShirt for your dog to reduce their anxiety levels, as well as an adaptil diffuser spray or essential oils.

“If they come into the vehicle calm then they’re more likely to learn,” Schell said.

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“It’s all about practice,” she added. “The best is to take your dog for a one-block ride in the car first. Give them rewards afterward for being a good animal.”

Schell suggests gradually increasing the length of time your dog is in your vehicle, working towards a full-length trip.

Should I remove my dog from their restraints when leaving them in the car?

Though Schell recommends not leaving your dog unattended in your vehicle even for a short period of time, she said if you are, it’s best to leave your dog restrained.

“Definitely they should be within their seatbelt at all times,” she said. “There should be no way that they can jump off the seat and inure themselves – we don’t want them choking.”

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Schell stressed the safest thing to do when temporarily leaving your pet in your vehicle is to have them in a carrier, and have the carrier restrained by a seatbelt.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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