Thursday, June 25, 2009
By Julia Williams
The other day I was traveling on the freeway when I noticed the pickup truck in front of me had a beautiful chocolate lab bouncing from one side of the truck bed to the other. I was appalled to see that the dog was not tethered in the back of the truck! I’ll never forget the terrified look on the dog’s face as he struggled to maintain his balance and keep from flying out of the truck.
Transporting your dog untethered in the open bed of a pickup truck is an accident waiting to happen. When you let your dog ride loose in the back of your pickup, you endanger both your dog and other motorists. One quick turn, abrupt stop or unexpected bump in the road, and your dog can be catapulted into traffic. This can result in painful broken bones, bruises and road rash, and even death. If they do manage to survive the fall and oncoming traffic, it can cost thousands of dollars in veterinary bills to fix them up.
Letting your dog ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck is not only unsafe and potentially deadly for dogs, it’s illegal in some states. Most states that don’t yet have legislation in place to protect dogs from this dangerous practice, are working on it. Regardless of the law, responsible pet owners have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of their companion animals, both at home and on the road.
Some people believe that taking the dog with them is better than leaving them home alone. But consider this: having a lonely dog waiting for you when you get home is a million times better than having one get killed or injured from falling out of a pickup truck bed.
If you simply must take your dog with you in the back of your pickup truck, there are several different options for keeping your beloved canine companion safe. The safest is to buy a topper for the truck bed so your dog can ride in an enclosed area, protected from the road and wind hazards.
A large, sturdy dog crate (such as those required for airline transportation) is also a good option, provided that the crate is securely tied down to prevent it from sliding around the truck bed floor. Although these cost less than a truck bed topper, they can still run several hundred dollars or more depending on the size and type of crate you buy.
Another option is to secure the dog directly behind the truck’s cab by cross tethering. This is accomplished by securing a rope to each side of the truck, with a short leash attached in the middle for the dog. Be aware, however, that if the leash is too long, the dog could fall from the truck's rear and be dragged along the street.
Cross tethers designed specifically for restraining dogs in the backs of pickups can be found at most pet stores as well as online. A properly installed cross tether secures the animal to the truck in such a way that it can't go over the bed or choke itself. The safest (and most comfortable) way to cross tether your dog is with the addition of a padded harness. This prevents entanglement and limits the dog’s range of motion to ensure that he won’t choke.
The German Shepherd in the photo above is using the Kurgo K9 Truck Tether along with the Kurgo Smart Harness which is made from automotive seatbelt webbing. This tether and harness will fit all pickup trucks, and can also be fitted to the vehicle's seats to allow your dog to ride inside during inclement weather. Both of these together cost less than $50. That’s such a small price to pay to keep “man’s best friend” safe and sound while riding in the back of a pickup truck.
Read more articles by Julia Williams