Dog Safety Tips For Truck Owners

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Dogs and pickup trucks seem like a natural combination. Dogs are easy-going, friendly, and they don’t mind getting dirty. Indeed, if dogs could be a type of vehicle, they would be a fun-loving pickup truck for sure.

Dogs and trucks don't mind getting dirty. Golden Retriever image copyrighted by tonylanciabeta

Dogs and trucks don't mind getting dirty. Golden Retriever image ©tonylanciabeta.

Sadly, despite the fact that dogs and trucks have so much in common, trucks can represent a serious risk to a dog’s health…especially if the dog rides in the back of the truck. While there aren’t a lot of stats to prove it, a veterinary professional we spoke with suggested that dogs are more likely to get hurt in their owner’s truck than they are to get hit by a truck.

How pickups can be dangerous for dogs:

These dogs are riding on top of the toolbox in this truck's bed. Obviously, this is very, very dangerous for their health.

These dogs are riding on top of the toolbox in this truck's bed as it drives down the road. Obviously, this is very, very dangerous for their health.

1. Far too many dog owners let their dogs ride in the bed of their trucks. Dogs aren’t cargo, yet many dog owners let them ride in the back as if they are a piece of lumber. Dogs aren’t watching the road, so they don’t know when you’re about to hit the brakes, and they don’t know how to brace themselves in the event of an emergency stop. Dogs can suffer broken limbs and injured joints when their owners hit the brakes in an emergency situation. Truck beds can be slippery as well, making it even riskier to ride in the truck bed in wet weather.

These dogs are having fun, but it's easy to see how this situation could go wrong.

These dogs are having fun, but it's easy to see how this situation could go wrong.

2. Dogs will jump out of trucks. Straight from the vet’s mouth:

When we get a dog that’s jumped out of a vehicle, a lot of the owners will say it’s the first time…and a lot of the dogs have to be put down.

Keep in mind this isn’t limited to dogs riding in the bed – dogs have been known to jump out of a vehicle’s window as well.

3. Dogs can go through windshields. Just like people who don’t wear their seat belts, a dog can go right through a windshield in an accident…it’s just simple physics. Dogs must be restrained.

4. Dogs riding in pickup beds can get hit by debris. You don’t need to know the specifics of the story we heard, but flying sheets of plywood can be deadly.

5. Dogs can be swept out of pickup beds by wind. In what might be the most surprising risk of all, dogs that ride in truck beds can be blown away in a gust generated by a passing semi trailer. Semi’s push a lot of wind, and they have been known to lift a dog out of a pickup bed and blow them onto the road.

6. Dogs can cause distractions, and distractions can cause accidents. Often times the most dangerous distraction is a dog that jumps into a driver’s lap or line of sight.

Here are Tips For Making Your Dog Safe:

1. If at all possible, do not put your dog in your truck’s bed unless they’re in a dog box that is bolted in place.

There are many different types of dog boxes available. These are from

There are many different types of dog boxes available. These are from

2. If you must put your dog in your truck bed and you’re not able to put them in a dog box, there are inexpensive bed restraint systems available that will keep your dog from jumping or getting blown out of your pickup.

This truck bed harness system is less than $25, a small price to pay for a loved one's safety.

This truck bed harness system is less than $25, a small price to pay for a loved one's safety.

In many states, restraint systems are legally required for dogs riding in the pickup bed. Keep in mind, however, that these restraints are not a perfect solution. Your dog will still be vulnerable to debris in an unprotected box, and unless they’re in a box, they’re still vulnerable to breaking a limb in a panic stop situation.

3. If your dog rides inside your truck, that’s a step in the right direction. Still, dogs should be restrained regardless of where they’re riding. There are simple and inexpensive restraint systems available for the interior as well. carries dozen of different interior vehicle harnesses for dogs.

Click the picture to see more dog harnesses.

Click the picture to see more interior dog harnesses.

Your dog might not like the fact he or she can’t stick their head out the window, but dog restraint systems can prevent injury and come highly recommended by the vet we spoke with.

If you’re already following these tips, good work! Your pet would thank you if he or she could.

Questions? Suggestions? Please share.

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  1. mk says:

    Great ideas every pet owner should follow. I cannot tell you how many dozens of times I have seen, usually older people above 50, with their pet poodle or other very small dog sit in their lap while driving in town I see usually with the doggies head sticking out the driver’s side window. I don’t really know if WI has a law on the books about this, but there should be since it would have to affect the driver’s turning ability at times you would think? It certainly pisses me off everytime they are usually driving way slower than they should be in town. I feel like honking the horn at these people and yelling at them to get that dog off their lap or I will call the cops with your license plate written down.

  2. Deznutjob says:

    Chains and ropes or no chains and ropes, I would never put any dog in the back of a truck unless it had a shell or a humane cage.

    When I was 18 I was standing at a red light and saw this guy make a right turn just in front of me. His golden retriever, chained up in the back, somehow fell out and the truck ran him over dead right in front of me!!!

  3. TXTee says:

    I get a lot of the points and at the same time I think there needs to be a little practice of what’s within reason. Dog box is overboard, in my opinion. A secure crate is ok and maybe even the loving owner that wants the dog to have a seatbelt when riding inside a vehicle. I love my dogs and I do my best to keep them safe. Only one of my dogs used to ride everyehwere in the bed and I did not keep her restrained. She mostly laid in the bed right at the back of the cab and when she did stand I monitored traffic conditions as well as I could. If she wanted to jump out, I guess she was on her own. Inevitably, that’s not what I want to happen but I can also imagine her being hung by some restraint. And dogs in the lap or anywhere distracting the driver is a big no-no. Now I have the shell and all 3 of them used to ride in there comfortably. There can still be accidents where they’d get injured legs, joints, etc with the shell so there is no end-all solution. I think that’s just part of life….accidents happen, living things die. As long as you try to do something within reason then I think that’s fine.

  4. mk says:

    speaking of dogs in back of trucks, I just saw a big Lab in the back of an old pickup truck running around all over in the back with no cab or strapped in. Gee, you would think owners would have more respect for their pets?

  5. Mickey says:

    I’ve seen dogs in trucks and especially the one on the tool box. Except the one I saw was moving around on the tool box. The wife did buy the seatbelt strap deal for her dogs. It just amazes you what people do.

  6. TXTee says:

    I never strapped my dog in the bed. She laid most of the time but there were times when she’d scratch her back using the tailgate. And that’s when I’d constantly check all 3 mirrors and definitely keep distance from others for braking, manueverability, etc. The only reason I bought a bed liner for the truck was so she wouldn’t slide and it was easier to clean her hair off the mat than the metal….I could care less if the truck bed is damaged. Respect for pet? Have you seen some of these people with kiddos climbing around the car? =) Anyway, you can all b*tch me out now but I have the shell so problem kinda solved.

  7. TXTee – Great point. Just like kids that aren’t buckled in, I think dog owners who don’t follow the tips aren’t intentionally being negligent, I think they just haven’t thought it out. The vet I talked to scared me straight – pets in vehicles need restraints just like people. Dog boxes are a great way to save a dog’s life, and the strap system keeps them from jumping out.

  8. TXTee says:

    One of my dogs is 100+ lbs and putting him in a kennel in the shell is not a comfortable ride for him with the distance we travel. The shell is much safer but not a full protective system. It’s a toss up…..but I understand the restraint issue inside the vehicle or uncovered bed. I wonder if pet insurance would deny a claim if someone was in an accident and the dog was injured due to no doggy seatbelt in the backseat?

  9. TXTee – I have no idea. I think bigger dogs are definitely a tougher situation.

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