Post Date - Jan 31, 2022
When you spend a week or more on the road, it’s nice to have a buddy! A lot of truckers have dogs to keep them company. Talk to a few CDL drivers with pets, and each one will have a different story. Most will agree that having a pet is good for your mental health (even the ones that drive you crazy). The inconvenient potty breaks help you get a little more exercise yourself. When you’re sleeping or away from the truck, some dogs will serve as a security system. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, then check out these tips for trucking with dogs:
Not all Company Driver jobs come with the same perks and benefits. Venture Transport allows regional and OTR drivers to have one cat or dog, and the pet deposit is $300. We’ve heard of some charging a dramatically higher pet deposit. Look into your current company’s pet policy. Some trucking companies that allow dogs will have rules against certain “aggressive” breeds. Owner Operators have more freedom when it comes to pet choices, but many types of pets aren’t well suited to the trucking lifestyle.
Good owners expect to make some lifestyle adjustments for their pets, especially if they’re in OTR trucking. Dog owners will have to stop more frequently for potty breaks. Love’s has nearly 300 locations with dog parks, and you can search the Love’s website for locations with that “amenity.” If you have a dog and routine lanes, then you’ll quickly notice which rest areas are more pet-friendly.
When making rest stops, you’ll also want to make a habit of lifting your pet down from the cab, rather than having them jump. The big jump can strain a dog’s legs and damage the joints over time. Dogs that get a little overweight will land even harder on the pavement. Some CDL drivers invest in ramps for their dogs, especially with bigger breeds. Even without excessive jumping, a lot of breeds will develop arthritis and other joint issues as they get older. Bigger dogs (and heavyset ones) can be hard to lift back into the cab.
Not all dog breeds are great for trucking. If your company has a rule against “aggressive breeds,” then you’ll want to ask for more details. Larger breeds like pit bulls and rottweilers are prohibited by some companies, but you could argue that chihuahuas and certain ill-tempered dachshunds are just as “aggressive.” Cold-weather dogs like huskies and breeds with long hair may get overheated more easily. Many truckers prefer small breeds so that they have room to move around in the cab. Larger breeds might be low-energy, which is helpful, but they still take up more space and more food. If the breed needs a lot of running and exercise time, then it won’t be a good fit for most truckers.
If you are looking for a dog, then consider rescuing an adult from a shelter. Puppies are messy and time-consuming, and it’s hard to guess how their personality will turn out. Shelters can usually tell you more about a mature dog’s temperament, whether they’re friendly and low-energy or if they will need open spaces to run. If you’re looking for a specific breed, then Truckstop.com’s top five breeds for truckers are Shih Tzu, Boston terrier, Welsh corgi, beagle, and dachshund.
Even if it’s not required by your company, you’ll want to carry your pet’s medications and paperwork from the veterinarian, including proof of vaccination. You never know when you might get stuck on the road, or you might need to see a new vet for an emergency. Stock up on their regular meds like heartworm chewables. Consider getting the vet to write a prescription for anything else you might need to restock on the road.
What happens if your pet gets separated from your truck? Collars with tags can include your name and phone number. Microchipping is great, especially if your pet doesn’t always wear their collar, but you may need to periodically update your contact information. If you aren’t already taking tons of pictures, make sure that you have at least a couple of pictures of your pet. If your pet gets lost, pictures are useful for showing people in the area and proving that the pet belongs to you.
Be sure to carry extra food and water for your pet. The pet’s food (and your own) will need to be stowed somewhere secure. Some dogs are very well-behaved, but unattended food is a big temptation. (Cleaning supplies, antifreeze, and other toxic chemicals also need to be kept away from animals.) Some drivers get spill-proof water bowls for their pets. Others prefer the no-drip straw nozzles that screw onto plastic bottles, like a bigger version of the bottles on hamster cages. If you drive your truck across international borders, then you’ll need to check the regulations on pet food. Dog food with lamb or rice might not be able to cross the border.
Smaller pets may try to crawl under the pedals. Bigger ones may be too clumsy for lap time while you’re driving. Either way, it’s dangerous to have a pet that distracts your attention from the road. Rarely, depending on your niche in the industry, some customers and drop-offs may require dogs to be secured in a kennel. Even if it’s rarely needed, a kennel or pet carrier can be handy. You may need to stow your pet for an inspection or maintenance work. You might need to spend a night in a hotel, or something else unforeseen might happen. Wire and fabric carriers can fold down flat, taking up very little space.
Are you able to keep the cab of your truck a consistent temperature? Both hot and cold weather can be dangerous, especially when your pet is alone in a parked truck. Think about investing in a remote temperature monitor, one that sends alerts via text or email. Owner Operators can invest in generators and backups for temperature control, but a remote monitor can alert you when those systems malfunction.
Be prepared for cold and hot weather, especially if you travel between regions with different climates. As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of the tips for trucking with dogs involve buying the right gear. They might look silly, but booties and sweaters make a big difference for many pets. Hot pavement can burn the pads of dogs’ feet, and cold weather is also dangerous. According to the AKC, when it’s just 85 degrees Fahrenheit outside, asphalt gets hot enough to fry an egg. For the record, Venture Transportation doesn’t recommend cooking your breakfast on asphalt.
Pets are serious commitments. They can also be unpredictable. Do you have a spare key ready in case the dog locks you out of the truck? Have you considered getting pet insurance or setting aside funds for the veterinarian? To help keep your dog safe, you can find pet harnesses that clip into the seatbelt or buckle around the seat. Airbags aren’t designed for dogs, so the front passenger seat may not be the safest spot for pets.
Clearly, there are lots of things to consider when taking a pet on the road. If your dog always travels with you, and if they serve a function like barking at potential intruders, then you may be able to get a tax deduction for pet-related expenses. For Company Drivers, the first question is whether you work for one of the trucking companies that allow dogs. If your current employer doesn’t allow pets, then you can start by searching for job openings at Venture Transport!
Pets also provide a great topic of conversation with other truck drivers. Don’t be afraid to ask other drivers for tips for trucking with dogs. Jason & Heather on the YouTube channel, TheCraftyTruckermade this great video with loads of advice: