Dog’s Eye View: Kennel up for safety
October 6, 2016
A recent experience caused me to think about something I've always just taken for granted: kennel crates.
I needed to take my dog on a short trip but had to use our alternate vehicle that doesn't have enough room for the kennel crate I need for him. I thought he'd be fine, because he is such a good and seasoned traveler.
I regularly talk to people about the value of using a crate inside of the car, and I always have one in my dog car.
I like the open wire type, because I can leave the windows of the car open in the summer, eliminating the risk of high heat. It also prevents my dog from jumping out a window or chewing something I may have in the car. I can use sun reflective window shields to block the sun, if needed, and in colder weather, I can put a cover over the crate to help hold in heat.
I've seen passing cars occupied by dogs that are lunging back and forth from window to window, barking furiously at whatever they see. This dangerous and frankly outrageous behavior can be curtailed by using a suitable crate. Dogs can be helped to calm down by giving them their own space in the car. A cover can be put over the crate to limit visual stimulation.
But beyond the above-stated reasons, kennel crates are safety tools.
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Years ago, I was traveling in the winter with my two border collies, each in their individual crates. The road surface quickly turned to black ice. I slowed down, but the person behind me had too much speed and momentum. He slammed into the back of my car, spinning it around and sending me into the ditch past oncoming traffic. I was lucky. No one hit me head-on, but I was stuck in the ditch. I immediately looked back at the dogs; they were uninjured and had only rocked to the sides of their crates.
Kennel crates come in all sizes and types: open wire, cloth, plastic, metal and wood-sided, among others. Some open at the top, and others open at the end and side. When I travel a distance and may want to use a crate in a motel room, I carry an extra cloth-sided crate that folds up easily. It's light and easy to carry into the motel (or friend's house) and out to the car. I can leave the heavier, bulky, metal one in the car.
Technology is always improving on a good idea. Wire crates and plastic crates may not protect your dog in a serious accident, such as a roll over. Higher end crates are available that can protect your dog in certain types of accidents.
One thing that's important to remember is single crates or small crates should be tied down with heavy strapping or elastic type cords so that, in the event of an emergency stop or a swerving evasive maneuver, the crate will not roll in the car.
Returning to the beginning of this article, I was surprised to see my dog was unable to balance himself or keep himself from falling from side to side when trying to ride in the vehicle without a crate. He had a frightened expression on his face and was stress panting and trembling. He wasn't used to having to brace himself against each nuance of the car movement. Normally, he rides in his crate, sleeping on his side and totally relaxed.
I know many dogs ride loose in cars. I hope that, after reading this article, pet owners will give serious thought to obtaining a kennel crate to be used in the car for their dog.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with more than 30 year of experience.