Taking the Dog Along

 dog-in-truckI admit it. I’m one of those people who takes my dog everywhere. Unlike the ladies who tote around a Chihuahua in their purse, it’s simply not physically possible for me to toss my ninety pound Labrador Retriever in a handbag and stroll through the mall. I tried it once and my back hasn’t been the same since.

I take great comfort in the fact that my husband and I aren’t the only ones who choose to bring our pooch on outdoor adventures with us. Whether it’s for a day of hunting or simply exploring the back roads of the local National Forests, outdoor enthusiasts have found some creative ways to safely bring Fido along for an outing.

Being as I’m a complete sucker, I allow my dog in the cab of the truck. Go ahead, roll your eyes. Yes, my leather has a few paw marks on it, but I like the convenience of it. Unfortunately, the idea of having a large dog roaming around the cab wasn’t safe on its own. The last thing I needed was my puppy acting as a giant projectile if we ever got in an accident. A number of products are available in pet stores for under thirty dollars that provide a harness for your dog that clips into any standard seat belt receiver. The slack in the line provides enough roaming space for your dog to revel in the wind outside the window, while still keeping him secure in case of an accident.

Many folks are more reasonable than I am and choose to transport their dogs in the bed of the truck. Depending on the amount of time your canine companion (or companions) spend in the truck bed has some impact on the available transportation options. A standard dog crate can be secured against the cab of the truck and act as a safe, reliable short term option for dogs who are crate trained. Many hunters, or individuals with more than one dog, choose to build dog boxes permanently into the bed of a truck, creating a permanent crate-like structure that provides shade and shelter, as well as additional room for dogs to move around during long periods of enclosure.

Once it’s time to get out of the truck, it doesn’t mean Ol’ Yeller has to walk. ATV dog carriers can be purchased for $100 to $200 and provide a comfy place for your dog to enjoy a ride. Although multiple styles are available, most dog carriers intended for ATV use will mount on the rack behind the seat and provide a padded area with three walls for your dog to lay down in while the ATV is moving. If your fur bucket of an outdoors buddy hasn’t even been on an ATV before, be sure to test out this type of product at low speeds and train your dog to be comfortable in the carrier.

For the pups that love some time out on the lake, dog life jackets are a great option to make sure that your furry buddy is safe in the water. No matter the size of the dog, flotation devices are available that secure around the dog’s chest, starting at just $20. Even if your pup loves to head out for a swim once the boat is stopped, I like the idea that life jackets can be worn while the boat is moving, just to be sure that your companion has a chance to survive if something should happen.

No matter where you’re going, or what you’re driving, there’s sure to be a product on the market that will allow you to safely take the mutt along with you. I mean, he is your best friend, after all. And it would be totally rude to leave him at home.