You’ve all seen the ads: Dogs riding in convertibles, wind in their fur, free. And in peril. But here’s an alternate image that shows doggie happiness doesn’t have to be dependent on danger:

Oreo, from SheepGuardingLlama on Flickr
Oreo, from SheepGuardingLlama on Flickr

#3. Always secure your dog in the car.

You’ll achieve the best dog security with a harness — never, ever, a collar — hooked to the car’s back seat belt. A regular harness will work in a pinch — pinch being the operative word — but the ones designed especially for travel have padding that insulates your dog against pressure caused by a sudden stop. The top models also have hooking mechanisms that let your dog move, though not too much, and are easy to click open and shut. See the “Product Reviews” section of for a travel halter comparison.

If your dog weighs less than 20 pounds, consider a booster seat, similar to the kiddie version. A pup that can gaze out the window is less likely to get bored or carsick (yes, that’s my next blog post).

Secured travel crates are another option, but even crate-trained dogs don’t always respond well to being cooped up in a moving vehicle without being able to see where they’re going. Some people use barriers that prevent their dogs from invading their personal driving space, but these are tough to fit all cars and all dogs; some pups manage to get past everything but steel. Nor do barriers prevent jostling and a high-speed collision could put your dog in jeopardy.

Incidentally, lest I be accused of taking political sides, here’s an alternate view of the Mitt Romney/Seamus controversy, which I blogged about on June 9, from the Wall Street Journal. In particular, Dog Lover 67 defends the practice, saying that Seamus probably experienced his al fresco ride as akin to “a ride in a convertible.”

We report, you decide.

Shameless self-promotion alert: These tips, to run in a series this week, are adapted from Chapter 8 of AM I BORING MY DOG? And 99 other things every dog wishes you knew, forthcoming from Alpha/Penguin in September.

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