Dog Joy-riding

Sep 26, 2020

Dog on a joy-ride!
Credit waferboard [Flickr]

Most dogs love the wind in their face, but they don't realize the danger.  After all, you wouldn't let your child ride like this.  Allowing your best friend to ride in a vehicle with its head out the window exposes it to serious injury.


On a recent road trip on a four-lane highway, I noticed a pick-up truck in front of us. Well, not so much the truck as the dog’s head hanging out the passenger side window, sniffing the air, fur blowing in the wind. What is it that a dog loves so much about that experience of hair and ears blown back, lips flapping in the breeze? It’s obvious the dog is having a great time!

Dogs experience their world in large part through their sense of smell. Scientists say a dog has maybe 300 million scent receptors in their noses, while we humans have a measly 6 million. So, they’ve got us beat fifty-to-one. And, the percent of their brain used to analyze smells is 40 times larger than ours. Something we might smell from about 2 feet away, they could detect it from a distance of more than three miles.

So, that dog with its head out the truck window, mouth open, and hair and ears blown back, was feasting on a banquet of smells. No wonder it looks like so much fun! So what’s wrong with this picture?

Well, to begin with, the owner was risking his pet’s eyesight. Small particles and even large ones are thrown up by other traffic on the road. Under most circumstances, they might not be noticed by the dog, much less cause harm. But at the speed of a moving vehicle, those small particles may cause injury to delicate eye tissues, nasal passages or even ears. Think of the impact on your windshield by a bug, or a small rock; then consider the damage that could do to your dog’s eye. In addition, particles of debris may cause a pet to become ill from having air forced into its lungs.

Other dangers to the dog include the possibility of falling out the open window, or being thrown from the vehicle in a collision.

One way to let your canine buddy enjoy the ride might be to crack the window slightly so your pet can still sniff the breeze and enjoy all those delightful smells with less risk to its health and safety - important considerations for your best friend, when you’re speaking of pets.