Truck Drivers

Thinkin’ about a Pet for your Co-Pilot? Here’s What to Consider

When you spend days or even weeks out on the road, life might be a little better with a furry little friend along for the ride.

Dogs and cats not only make for great company, they can boost morale on the road and provide great companionship. Seems like a great way to make life on the road more enjoyable, right? Well, before you check out a pet store or pet rescue facility, there are a few things to consider before committing to the idea.

If you’re a company driver, you better clear the idea with the company you drive for. Even though it’s a growing trend to bring pets on the road, many fleets don’t allow it. On the chance they do, they’ll likely have rules for you to follow. For example, they may have a maximum weight limit for your pet, a ‘pet’ deposit, proof of vaccinations, and specifications for your pet (no exotic animals) so it’s important to review the rules beforehand.

If you’re new to commercial driving, it’s probably best to wait to bring a pet with you. If you’ve only been driving for a few months, you still have a lot to learn and responsibilities to become familiar with. Get settled into driving and your routine, then figure out if having a pet will fit into your schedule.

Most fleets will have a weight requirement for your pet, but if they don’t, it’s still a good idea to find a pet that is under 25 lbs. You’re in a limited space in your truck, dogs like Dachshunds, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzu’s are all good examples of dog that are “right sized” for travel.

And what about puppies?  Granted. Cute!  But, they require lots of attention and bathroom breaks. Puppies are also curious, and are generally full of energy. That’s not the best combination in a small cab.  Oh, and they chew things up.  Unless you have a lot of free time on your hands, it might be best to have a dog outside the puppy stage. A quick word on walking your dog…more common sense than anything: Be careful at truck stops — you don’t want your dog stepping in oil or gas. And, anti-freeze is very toxic. If they wonder through an area with fluids, then lick their paw, they could get very sick.

Having a crate in your truck is definitely a good idea (and another reason a smaller dog is often preferred. Small dog equals small crate). If you need to leave your pet unattended for a while, or they happen to panic while on the road, they will have a safe and secure area onboard. If you know the pet will wander around the cab while you’re driving, placing them in a crate ensures they won’t be a distraction or get near the foot pedals.

Not a dog lover? Cats are also a great option since they are very low maintenance…. except for the infamous cat box. If you want a cat, you better be prepared to change kitty litter on a daily basis.

For many drivers, the benefits of having a pet on the road easily out-weigh the added responsibility. Research shows that pets relieve stress and can improve your overall mood. Certain pets, like dogs, encourage more socializing, since they need to be walked. Dogs can make you more approachable and can help break the ice of having a conversation with a fellow trucker while at a truck stop. You never know what a conversation could lead to…networking opportunity, new friend, a future date?

So, what do you think? Bringing a pet onboard sound like a good idea? If so, check out this site for more tips on how to prepare your truck for your new companion.