Long-haul or over-the-road trucking can be a lonely profession. There are many hours spent on the roads, without the companionship available in other career fields. Thankfully, though, many trucking companies, including our organization at Knight Transportation, do have an allowance for pets, giving drivers much-needed companionship while on the road. Below is more information on our specific pet policy as well as the many benefits of bringing pets along as a truck driver and how to keep pets safe when riding along:
Benefits of Ride-Along Pet Companions
The benefits of a ride-along pet are many. Of course, the fact that they provide companionship is a given, but there are many other benefits as well. They are as follows:
- Health Benefits: Results of various studies featured on HelpGuide have outlined the many health benefits of interacting regularly and owning pets. They include…
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer when compared with those who don’t own pets.
- Pet owners have lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides than those who don’t own pets. These levels are in direct correlation with heart disease.
- Pet owners who are over the age of 65 years-of-age tend to visit the doctor up to 30% less often when compared to those who don’t own pets.
- Interacting with a cat or dog has been proven to elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin. This relaxes and calms the nerves, improving the mood.
- Pet ownership tends to reduce hypertension when compared with those who do not own pets.
- Studies have shown pet owners have a lower risk for and experience depression less often than those without pets.
- Pets don’t have to just include dogs to derive benefits. Cats are also beneficial. Some drivers have even brought along a duck and a parrot with similar benefits.
Fulfilling The Need For Human Touch
The science behind this is vast, but one of the most basic reasons it is believed pets provide benefits to their owners is their ability to provide something all human beings are born needing. That is the experience of basic human touch. All people need this, and when a truck driver is on the road for hours, days, weeks or even months at a time, they will find themselves wanting when it comes to human touch. When a driver can stroke the fur of their ride-along pet, it meets the basic human desire for human touch and interaction.
Why Pets Are So Beneficial For Truck Drivers
Again, as mentioned above, companionship is obviously a benefit of pet ownership for truckers. Truckers can talk to their cat or dog while making a long run, which helps them feel less alone. Also, truckers who have to consider their pets, their health, etc., when they need bathroom breaks means they stop more often than they otherwise might.
Pets Provide Motivation For Healthy Changes
In addition to the points listed above, pets also benefit drivers by causing the following changes in their lifestyle:
- Adding Structure: Pets need regular exercise, bathroom breaks and require a specific feeding schedule. A driver on their own might have no motivation to stop and stretch their legs after hours on the road, even though it would likely benefit them. However, having a pet along with them will prompt a driver to stop regularly (as mentioned above) and let their dog exercise, use the bathroom or eat. This, in turn, is beneficial for the driver as well as the act of walking their dog or letting their cat out will give them an opportunity to walk around as well.
- Keeps Them at a Healthier Weight: Drivers who walk their dogs regularly are more apt to lose weight when compared with those without pets. The Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago found that walking a dog benefits both the pet and the owner by helping the owner shed unwanted weight. Having a pet, in essence, works similarly to having an exercise buddy. Another study, completed by Mars Petcare, a dog food manufacturer, found that pet owners walked 30 minutes more daily than those without pets. Truck drivers tend to neglect their own health when it relates to weight. Having pets along will get them moving.
How to Travel Safely With Pets
The above information explained the many benefits both emotional and physical derived from pet ownership. However, when drivers take a pet along on the road, it’s important for drivers to keep themselves and their pets safe during the process. The following explains how drivers can ensure their pet’s safety on the road:
- Keep Pets From Roaming Freely: Dogs should either be strapped in with a harness style safety belt or in a crate. Cats should be in crates. This will prevent pets from falling should a driver have to stop suddenly.
- When Possible, Back is Best: Airbags can harm a pet, even if they are in a crate. Therefore, when it’s possible, drivers should situate their pets outside the airbag trajectory. This might mean it would be best to situate them on the floor or in the back.
- Pets Should Stay Inside: Dogs love hanging their heads out the window during a trip, but that can be dangerous, especially on the highway where speeds are increased. Debris can fly into them and cause harm. Therefore, drivers should keep their dogs from hanging their heads out the window.
- Make Sure Pets Are Easily Identified: Pets should have collars, id tags, and even chips when applicable. This will increase the chances they are returned to a driver should they run off during a pit stop and become lost.
- Keep Pets Nearby: Drivers who stop and let their pets get outside the truck should make sure the pet is collared and leashed if possible. This will prevent them from running away, chasing something interesting.
- Don’t Leave Them: Pets shouldn’t be left in hot trucks without running air conditioning. It can be deadly. It’s important to keep them warm enough as well. Drivers should remain temperature aware.
The above is pertinent information on the many benefits of pet companionship for professional commercial drivers, along with how to keep pets safe when riding along.