When you’re out on the road for long stretches of time – away from home and family – trucking can be an exhausting and lonely job. Many truckers cope by bringing a furry friend along for the ride. In fact, more than 60% of OTR drivers own pets, while 40% take their pets on runs. Truckers with pets say that they are happier, healthier and better drivers because of their companions. How could a pet benefit you?
Pet Ownership Benefits
Despite the cost and occasional inconveniences of pet ownership (hello, shedding!), truckers with pets find that the positives outweigh the negatives. Benefits include:
- Companionship – You’re bound to bond as you eat, sleep, play, and work together.
- Exercise – they will get you out running, walking, and even playing!
- Security – pets are a great alarm system while you’re sleeping or away from your truck.
- Health – keep stress levels down and stay focused on safety.
Added bonus – If you’re on the shy side, pets are great at breaking the ice with strangers while on stops!
Considering Getting a Pet?
Unless you’re an owner-operator, make sure you know your company’s policies around pets. Many trucking companies recognize the health and happiness benefits of pet ownership, others don’t allow pets in the truck. Companies with no-pet policies will cite idling costs, wear and tear on the truck, driver distraction and insurance concerns as reasons against an in-cab companion. Don’t assume you can break the rules – your contraband pet WILL be discovered at some point.
Only experienced drivers (those with at least six months’ experience under their belt) should attempt to drive with a pet. There’s a lot to think about and attend to on the road, and if you’re fresh out of trucking school, you’re still learning how to do your job.
Meet Your New Best Friend!
Your dog (or cat) really is your best friend when you’re behind the wheel. Some breeds are better than others when it comes to being a good traveling companion. If you’re in the market for a new friend to accompany you on your runs, here are some tips to consider:
- Older animals are often a better choice than puppies. With an older dog, you shouldn’t have to worry about housebreaking and you can avoid the distraction of too much puppy energy. Older shelter dogs often have a hard time finding homes, so it’s great if you can find one to join you!
- Dogs around 25 pounds or less seem to do best as road buddies. Larger dogs take up too much room in the cab, which results in very cramped, uncomfortable quarters for both driver and dog.
- Truck cabs are small, confined spaces, so keeping shedding under control is very important. Short-haired dogs and those that don’t shed much are ideal, but daily brushing and frequent baths can be very beneficial in keeping shedding to a minimum. Also, use bedding for your dog that can be washed at least weekly, and carry extra filters for your heating/air conditioning unit and change them regularly.
- Learn how long your pet can comfortably “hold it,” and plan rest stops accordingly.
Ready to Run?
One of the best pieces of advice while travelling with a pet is to establish the drivers side as a “NO” zone. Reward your companion for staying in the passenger seat and let them know that is a safe space. There is nothing scarier than teaching a pet that it’s not okay to be near your feet while you are going down the road. Use a harness or other device that will secure them in the seat in case you have to brake suddenly. Other things to consider:
- Bring along plenty of clean, fresh water, and make sure your pet stays well-hydrated.
- Also bring enough of your pet’s regular food for each trip.
- Since your pet will spend much of their time in the cab of your truck, it’s crucially important that they get daily walks and exercise. The good news is that you’ll also benefit!
- To keep your pet mentally stimulated, bring along a selection of toys and offer them in rotation.
- Always leash your pet before letting them out of the truck.
- Allowing your pet to jump into or out of the cab unassisted can be quite hard on his hips, knees, and joints. Either lift them up and down, or invest in a device like the Pet Loader.
- Travel with a crate or carrier and make sure your pet is comfortable going into it when necessary. There will be situations in which they’ll need to be crated for short periods, for example, if you deliver to a facility that doesn’t allow pets inside the gate.
BigRoad is Your Best Friend When it Comes to Compliance!
Let BigRoad be your loyal companion on the road! There’s a reason why truckers love us – we make HOS compliance easy, affordable, and flexible. Learn more about how BigRoad’s compliance solutions can best help you by requesting a demo, below!