Why More Truckers Are Bringing Pets Along for the Ride
Life on the road isn’t easy. While there’s a certain freedom in logging thousands of miles across the country’s wide range of scenic vistas, it can sometimes be a lonesome profession. Pets are a common source for companionship on the open road, with growing numbers of trucking companies recognizing the many benefits of pet ownership and allowing pets to aid truckers’ moods, health, and overall job satisfaction.
Here are a few reasons more truckers are taking their furry friends with them on the road:
Pets Are Great for Boosting Mood and Mental Health
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of taking a pet on the road is the joy of keeping a best friend nearby. Pets boast a proven track record of positive therapeutic effects on overall mood and stress levels. Dogs in particular have shown an impressive ability to identify and soothe emotions, providing relief to those struggling with elevated stress, PTSD, and even panic attacks.
As the conversation around mental health and work-life balance evolves, more trucking companies are realizing the benefits of allowing pets to accompany truckers on their long-haul journeys.
Drivers with Pets Move More
One of the more underrated aspects of taking a pet on your next job? Taking regular breaks to stretch the legs, and adding structure to days that might otherwise blend together. Between long hours traveling and the temptation to subsist on “road food,” it can prove difficult for truckers to address their own physical health on the job. Providing bathroom and meal breaks for pets throughout each trip gets drivers out of the cab and moving more often. On average, truckers with pets enjoy 30 extra minutes of exercise per day compared to drivers without pets.
Those few extra breaks outside of the cab can also aid in keeping drivers safe and alert behind the wheel.
Driving with a Pet Brings Security
Though not always the case (sorry, goldfish), the presence of a pet can help deter potential thieves and other criminal activity. Though pets shouldn’t be left alone in the cab, they can serve as a helpful alert system to potential dangers. Criminals are far less likely to attempt vandalism or burglary with a pet present.
Best Pets for Truck Drivers
Dogs are a go-to option for pets on the road. Many breeds tend to be content with human companionship, snacks, and a cozy spot on the passenger seat, including:
- Shih Tzus
- Bichon Frises
But of course, dogs aren’t the only options. Certain cats, reptiles, and birds can also serve as travel-ready road trip buddies. So long as the cab is pet-proofed to ensure their safety, many pets can happily and comfortably join their owners for long trips; just be sure they’re comfortable in a moving vehicle over a short distance first.
How to Travel Safely with Pets
Bringing a pet along for the ride carries certain responsibilities in order to keep both you and your new friend safe. It can be dangerous for pets to move about the cab without restraint, as there’s always a chance of them distracting or interfering with your driving, putting you and other drivers at risk. It’s best to keep pets strapped in safely or in a travel crate, away from areas of the cab where airbags might deploy in case of an accident. It’s also unwise to let dogs poke out of your open windows, particularly on the highway.
Be aware of basic pet needs like food, water, favorite toys, medicine, and identification while you’re on the road, and be sure not to leave them trapped in a hot cab by themselves. Likewise, keep an extra blanket on hand if you’re out ice-road trucking in freezing temperatures.
Pet Policies for Trucking Companies
Trucking companies are quickly adapting to drivers bringing pets with them on the road, usually by enacting damage deposit policies and sometimes weight or breed restrictions to ensure company equipment stays in good shape. You can find a fully updated list of companies allowing pets and their respective restrictions here.
Bear in mind there are a few near-universal rules for traveling with pets. Drivers should carry proof of current rabies vaccination and potentially a certificate of veterinary inspection if a job involves crossing state lines.
Rescue a Pet Near You
There are more than six million companion pets (cats and dogs) in shelters across the U.S., with national organizations like the Humane Society desperate to find homes for more animals every year. The ASPCA can help you locate local non-profit shelters, which generally handle vaccinations and other needs to make it as easy as possible to adopt a pet.
The physical and mental benefits of bringing a companion with you on the road are clear. Check out your company’s pet policy, and explore whether having a furry friend is right for you!
**10/31/23 UPDATE: Be sure to check out the 2024 printable TSA Canine Calendar, available here.
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