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Panda loves a car ride. Her favorite is to ride in the Jeep during the summer with the doors and top off. Wait back the Jeep up. Doors and top off and roof off, is that safe for Panda? What about riding in the back of a pickup truck? Isn’t that illegal?  

Sadly it is only illegal in six states, according to an article in Car and Driver dated February 28, 2021. It is unlawful in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. If H.B. 386 passes in Utah, we will be the seventh state to prohibit this dangerous practice. 

Even inside the vehicle, your dog should be restrained. The risk of your loyal friend becoming a missile in an accident. Think about how often someone driving around you or even the person driving the car you are driving does something that causes you to turn sharply or hard break. The puppy isn’t prepared and falls or bounces in the vehicle, causing injury to her or other occupants. 

There is a myriad of different types of doggy seatbelts available, and they are not overly expensive. A quick search on the web will show you what’s available so you can select which is best for your dog. I have found that Panda is not a fan and will pull and yank on the seat belt to get free. So I have to double-check its security every time we get in the car. I’m not sure how she does it if she is pushing the button to release it or the constant yanking, but she will get it unhooked on occasion. I like the one that hooks to a harness for Panda. Consider the vehicle and your dog when selecting a seat belt for your dog. If you have the type of dog that could pull your truck on its side and then drag it down the street. You will want a more robust seat belt. If you have a smaller dog, you know the tiny ones that are more of an accessory to your wardrobe than an actual dog, you may want a different type. (of seatbelt, not dog.)

I put Panda in a seatbelt for other reasons as well. She would ride on my lap or between the two front seats blocking my view to the right if she had her way. She also likes to protect me from the windshield wipers. She will lunge at the windshield if I have to turn them on. Her lunge at the windshield has two problems: the recognizable safety risk, and it scares; well, it scares me enough that it requires a return trip home and a wardrobe change.  

The other safety equipment you should consider is a ramp that allows your dog to walk out of your vehicle more safely. The ramp reduces the risk of injury from frequently jumping out of the car. The not-so-obvious benefit is that it teaches your four-legged furry family member to wait till you put the ramp out before getting out. Thus reducing the risk, they will jump out when it is not safe and before you are ready. 

These are just a couple of things to consider for keeping your friend safe and healthy. Again I am not a certified dog trainer; I am just sharing what I have learned on my journey with Panda. 

When you bring a dog into your home, they become part of your family. They will love you unconditionally for the rest of their lives. They will comfort you during difficult times or love you when you need a hug. Studies have proven they are the best treatment for people who have PTSD. All they want to do is please you. Isn’t that worth a few dollars to keep them safe? 

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