With an average weight of just 3-6 pounds, Chihuahuas are the perfect size to take on car rides. Whether it's a short trip around the neighborhood, or if you're traveling across the state, bringing your four-legged friend offers several benefits: it exposes your Chihuahua to other people and animals (great for socializing and easing anxiety); it creates a memorable bonding moment between you and your furry friend; and let's face it, Chihuahuas love going for car rides.
However, you'll need to first make sure they are ready for this rather large step. Doing so is necessary not only for their safety, but also the safety of everyone else in the car and any nearby passenger vehicles.
Unfortunately, many owners toss their Chihuahuas into the front passenger side of the car and hit the road without thinking twice. Nine out of ten times everything will go fine, but it only takes one accident to injure your Chihuahua. Whether it's from them standing up and moving around, or from being secured the wrong way, injuries can occur to your Chihuahua riding in a the car. To ensure they are safe, healthy and emotionally happy, keep reading and we'll reveal how to drive with your Chihuahua.
Introducing Your Chihuahua To Car Rides
First and foremost, you'll want to introduce your Chihuahua to car rides so they will grow more accustomed to this otherwise unusual activity. If they've only been in the car once or twice, they are probably still skeptical of riding in it; therefore, it may take some cohering to get them into the passenger-side seat.
So, how are you supposed to get your Chihuahua into the car? Keep things happy by talking to them in an uplifting tone. Say something along the lines of "come on, let's go for a car ride," while shaking your car keys. You can always pick your Chihuahua up and physically force them inside the car, but this will only make things worse by increasing their anxiety. If talking to your Chihuahua in a positive manner doesn't get them in the car, make a trail of treats leading to the open door. Once they are inside, turn the stereo/radio off and reassure them that everything is going to be okay.
Your Chihuahua will likely be nervous during the first few trips, but they should quickly loosen up after a while. In fact, most all dogs (Chihuahuas included) grow to love the car riding experience. Before long, they will be wagging their tails at the door from the moment you start to shake the car keys. Even if it's just for a short ride around the neighborhood, try to take your Chihuahua on as many car rides as possible for them to get used to it.
Should I Use a Crate?
One of the most common questions owners have regarding car rides is whether or not they should force their Chihuahua to stay in a crate. This is a heavily debatable subject with pros and cons on both sides.
The benefit to placing your Chihuahua in a crate for car rides is the it helps to secure them. There are canine seat belts and harnesses designed to safely strap in dogs for car rides, but they tend to only work for larger dogs. Forcing your small Chihuahua to remain secured to a canine seat belt does more harm than good by placing them at risk for further injury. Crates, on the other hand, offer a safe way to prevent your Chihuahua from dangerously bouncing or flying around in the event of an auto accident or sudden braking. For them to be effective, however, you'll need to secure the crate in place using some harness or strap; otherwise, it and your Chihuahua will go flying in the air when an accident happens.
Of course, there are some downsides to using a crate in the car. For starters, your Chihuahua probably won't be as comfortable as they would laying down in the seat. Even with a bed and some blankets, the awkward angle of a crate laying in the car may create an uncomfortable environment. In addition, crates also take up a significant amount of room inside the car, which can be especially troubling for smaller vehicles.
So, should you force your Chihuahua to stay in a crate during car rides? Ultimately, this is a personal decision that only you can make. With that said, I've found that it's usually best to simply let your Chihuahua lay in the passenger-side seat as long as they are well trained and don't try to move around a lot. If you are going on long trips with lots of stuff in the car, placing them a crate beforehand could help protect them from falling items.
Tips For Taking Chihuahuas On Long Car Rides
Are you planning a long road trip with your Chihuahua in the near future? If so, you'll need to do a little planning ahead of time to ensure it's a safe and healthy trip with no accidents. Even if you Chihuahua is good at "holding their pee," you'll still need to make some occasion stops so you can get out and allow them to do their business. Don't just choose any fast food restaurant or rest area, but instead look for ones that are away from the main road with designated area for owners to walk their dogs.
No matter how well trained your Chihuahua is, ALWAYS walk them on a leash during your pits stops. The sight of another dog could spook or aggravate your Chihuahua, causing them to run off in front of a nearby car. You can prevent this from occurring, however, by walking them closely on a leash.
Here's a list of some of the essential items you'll need for long car rides with your Chihuahua:
- Small plastic container or sealed bag with food.
- Bottled water with a bowl for them to drink from.
- Doggie treats.
- Collar and leash.
- Any veterinarian prescribed medications.
- Bed and blankets.
- Phone number for a local emergency veterinarian.