By Lesley Liddle
Lesley Liddle is a certified service and pet dog trainer. First Mate Lulu is a Corgi/Red Heeler with spots like a baby harbor seal; Crewman Leonard is a Chihuahua/Doxie with tall ears like a rabbit. Both dogs have very short legs and were originally found in California shelters. Lesley has average legs and can be found on Orcas Island.
Lulu and Leonard have earnestly told me this: Dogs mostly love cars because they get to be with you. Put another way, they don’t like to get left behind. Sometimes when they go with you it means they’ll get a walk, or arrive at a park to romp with other dogs. That’s the best. But really they just like to go along in the car to be with you.
All too often, however, it means sitting and waiting for you while you are inside some dumb building. They are so very patient they deserve many biscuits for all the devoted waiting around they do. Both Lulu and Leonard are in complete agreement here. But truthfully, a lot of that waiting in a car is not a good idea.
When you think about what a car is, it is mostly just an uninsulated metal box on four wheels – a metal box that in the hot sun is an oven, or on a cold day is freezing like a meat locker. That is why it is actually a very bad idea to take a dog along for a ride if you are going to just leave him in the car for hours.
Cracking the windows really doesn’t help much because the car will heat up too fast for adequate air exchange. The car will be seriously too hot in no time at all, or, in winter, too cold. All in all, severe cold is probably O.K. if your dog is a Siberian Husky. Leonard has interjected here that cold is horrible for Chihuahuas.
In short, if you feel you must have your dog with you, but he will actually only be waiting for you in the car, in hot weather take him out of the car, crate him with a water bowl and something to chew on and leave him in the shade under a tree, and in cold weather put a warm jacket on him.
Better yet, leave him comfortably at home to enjoy a stuffed kong or sleep until you go for your walk together.