Commercial trucking takes some drivers away from home for days or weeks at a time. Many truckers will travel with certain comforts, including photos, movies, and even their pets. There are several advantages to riding with your furry or scaly companions. In fact, in a previous article, we listed nine reasons to bring pets on the road. Once you get permission from your fleet manager, check out Commercial Truck Trader’s nine tips for bringing a pet on the road.
1. Learn Your Company’s Policy
Many commercial trucking companies allow drivers to make routes with their pets in the cab, but there are some restrictions and guidelines to know. Fleets have rules about the type of pet, including breed and size restrictions, and the number of pets you can bring. So, before you prepare to bring your bullmastiff or pet python on the road, make sure your company’s policy will allow it. (If you’re a fleet manager, we’ve previously discussed the pros and cons of allowing drivers to bring pets on the road.)
2. Take a Test Run
If you’ve never taken your pet on long rides in a car or truck, it’s a good idea to do a test run first to make sure they’re comfortable in vehicles. Take your pet on a few short drives, observing their behavior. If your pet seems anxious or uncomfortable, it might not be a good idea to bring them on the road. A test run also gives your pet a chance to become more familiar with the new sights and smells inside of your truck’s cab.
3. Make a Visit to the Vet
Before you make your first route with your pet, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian. Your pet should be up to date on all vaccinations before your drive. Keep a record of all vaccines with you on the road. Your fleet manager may need you to provide these to have on file. If your pet requires any medication, be sure to get enough before you leave.
4. Create a Space for Your Pet
If your pet is new to the driving lifestyle, your truck’s cab will be an unfamiliar new environment for them. Create a space for them to feel safe and cozy when you’re on the road. If you don’t already have one, buy a bed specifically for them, or pack a blanket that smells like home. You’ll also want to keep your pets belongings, including toys, food, and bowls, in a designated area. Pack chew toys for dogs, scratch boards for cats, and other stimulating toys that will keep your pet entertained on long stretches.
5. Stay Safe in the Cab
While you do want your pet to feel at home in your truck’s cab, you also want them to remain safe. Keep your pet and their belongings away from your vehicle’s clutch and brakes. As you’re driving, secure your pet with a leash or harness. Purchase an adjustable harness that snaps into your truck’s seat belt so your pet can sit up or lay down in the seat. These will also keep them safe if you suddenly have to brake. Small animals may be more comfortable in a pet car seat.
6. Keep It Clean
Keeping your truck clean can be a challenge, especially when you add a pet into the mix. Be sure to maintain their grooming routines with regular brushing. Baby wipes and doggy dry shampoo are great alternatives if you don’t have time to give your pet a bath. If you have a furry friend, their hair can get everywhere. Vacuum or use a roller to remove shedding from inside your cab.
If you have a cat that uses a litter box, be prepared to clean it frequently to avoid those odors in a confined space. Use scoopable litter to remove waste, and replace the litter every week or so depending on how often your cat uses the litter box.
Keep cleaning supplies in the cab just in case your pet has an accident while you’re driving. If that does happen, and you have time to do so, pull into a rest area and clean up the mess. You certainly won’t want to ride around with that smell in your cab for a long period of time.
7. Give Your Pet a Break from the Cab
If your pet isn’t used to spending hours on the road, make sure to find time to give them a break from the cab. Pull into rest areas or make pit stops to let your pet get some fresh air. Go for a walk to let them stretch their legs, relieve themselves, or simply enjoy some play time before getting back in the cab. Remember to keep your pet on a leash since new surroundings can be exciting and overwhelming.
Your pet may need some help getting in and out of the cab since the seat can be too high for smaller animals to jump from on their own. Carry older pets, or ones with shorter legs, in and out of the cab. You can also buy dog stairs that have the traction and height they need to get up and down.
8. Keep Track of Your Pet
Long hours on the road can make your pet antsy for time out of the cab. To prevent your dog or cat from running off as soon as you open the door, be sure to leash them beforehand. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with your personal information, including name and phone number. If your pet does manage to get away from you, a microchip implant can lead to a happy reunion if someone else finds them.
9. Prioritize Pet Health
If you’re going to bring your pet on the road, remember to prioritize their health. Make sure your pet stays on a regular feeding schedule, and pack plenty of food and water. Collapsible water bowls or dog water bottles can help your pet stay hydrated no matter where you are. If you’re driving in the summer, keep your cab cool with air conditioning and a mini fan. In the colder months, ride with extra blankets or even sweaters and jackets to keep your pet warm.
Bringing a pet on the road can offer companionship to the driver and an adventure for their pet. Learning your company’s rules, creating a space for your pet, giving them breaks, and taking necessary safety precautions can make each route a memorable experience with your favorite animal. After following these tips, you’ll be ready to hop in the cab with your new travel companion.