December 8, 2022
Being a truck driver can be very freeing, but it can be lonely, too. All those hours spent on the road, away from family and friends can certainly feel isolating at times.
It's why many truck drivers who are owner-operators travel with a dog as their co-pilot. If you're an owner-operator, you'll have the freedom to decide if you want to travel with a dog. If you are a company driver, check with your employee to find out whether they allow you to drive with a dog on board.
Having a dog with you on the road can actually provide both you and your pet with many benefits. But, if you want to bring your dog with you on the road, there are some things to keep in mind. Below, we outline the top things to know if you're trucking with a dog.

Decide Whether Your Dog is a Fit

Not every dog is a perfect fit to be a co-pilot for truck drivers. A full-grown adult English Mastiff that weighs more than 200 pounds is probably not the best choice as a traveling partner, for multiple reasons. A dog that weighs up to about 50 pounds is ideal for truck rides, because their smaller size allows for adequate space to put bowls for water and food.
Ideally, dogs with short hair are better, as they are easier to clean up after. Dogs with long hair, or those breeds that shed a lot, can cause a lot of maintenance and clean up within your cab.
It's also important that the dog you bring with you is trained, calm, an experienced traveler and doesn't need to run around a lot. Puppies who haven't been trained and need to run around for hours throughout the day are not ideal, as you won't have the luxury of stopping frequently to allow them to do this.

Set Up Your Truck

Trucking with a dog takes some prep work. You want to make sure that your dog has plenty of space within your cab to not only sit and lay safely and comfortably but also to drink and eat when they want to.
So, before trucking with a dog, make sure that you organize your cab properly. Set aside space for your dog's bowls and set up a comfortable bed they can lay down in, if that's not going to be on the seat.
Put away any important items that you need so that your dog doesn't damage them by mistake. This could include any technology equipment you need to have with you but not out while you're driving and paperwork such as logs.
Make sure that your dog is trained to stay away from the clutch and breaks so that they don't accidentally cause a crash. Finally, make sure that your dog can be properly secured with a seat belt when they're sitting in the seat. You wouldn't allow a human to sit in the seat unbuckled, so you shouldn't let your dog do that, either.

Have the Right Tools with You

Every truck driver knows that there are essential tools they must bring with them on every trip. When you're trucking with a dog, there's an additional list of tools that you should have.
Some items you should always have handy include:
Leash: You should have this in the cab with you at all times so you can take your dog for a walk when you stop. Many places where you stop may not allow dogs off-leash.
Refreshments: Make sure you have plenty of food, treats and water for your dog to last the entire trip. You can always stop to get more, but your options will be limited compared to refreshments for yourself.
Cleaning supplies: Accidents happen from time to time, so it's best to be prepared. Have the proper cleaning supplies so that you can rectify the mistake if it happens. Also, make sure to have poop bags on board so you can clean up after your dog when they do their duty outside.
Toys: Toys and chews will help to keep your dog occupied on the road. This is important, as they may get a little restless on long trips.
Crate: Some facilities that you deliver to may not allow dogs inside. In these cases, it's a good idea to have a crate on board.
Blankets: If you're traveling to or through chilly climates, you should have extra blankets on board for your dog. This is also important in an emergency situation in case the heat in your cab doesn't work or if you break down.

Keep a Log of the Expenses

It's possible that your dog-related expenses could actually be tax deductible. There are some standards that you'll have to meet, including whether your pet can serve as a guard/alert dog and whether they'll be traveling with you all of the time.
Check with an accountant or tax professional to find out whether you may qualify to deduct some of your expenses, and make sure to keep detailed records of all those expenses related to your dog just in case.

Make Sure Your Best Friend is Prepared for the Road

It's important to prepare your best friend for the trip on the road. This means making sure they are up to date on all of their vaccines and that you have any medicines they require with you on the road.
Before you leave for your first trip, it's advisable to take your dog to the vet, not only for a routine check-up but to ensure that they're fit for the trip. It's also a good idea to give them a bath before the trip and after so they're clean and tidy.
Finally, if you don't have insurance on your pet, it's a good idea to look into it if you're going to be trucking with a dog. This will help you pay for potential medical expenses on the road should your pet need it.
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