Posted January 7, 2022

Riding with Man's Best Friend - Things to Know

By Grace Tino

One of the most challenging aspects of trucking is the great lengths of time spent alone on the road. Though truckers have the option for team driving with another driver and sharing a cab, many still prefer to be solo drivers. Luckily, drivers still have another option for a copilot! Many truckers, from company drivers to owner operators, choose to bring an animal companion on the road. Transportation companies have embraced the idea of a companion for their hard-working drivers and many are now pet-friendly. Not only is bringing a furry friend on the road a lot of fun, but it is also a proven way to boost your mental and emotional well-being during a rather isolating job. How can you prepare for your life with a new copilot?

Trucking with a pet is growing more and more common. In 2013, about 40% of truckers reported taking pets on the road with them, and those numbers have been increasing every year as companies adjust their policies to be pet-friendly to benefit the health of their drivers. For example, dogs provide an excellent incentive for truckers to exercise whenever they stop. Research shows that even 15 minutes of play with a dog can improve your mood. Pets also promote a calmer mood in their owners that can result in lower heart rates and blood pressure, which are often a health concern among truckers. Plus, pets will require more frequent stops on the road, which can help reduce fatigue many drivers face when they do not rest enough.

Policies for pets will vary by company. While an owner operator has the freedom to choose their own pet without restriction, company drivers need to keep in mind the regulations set forth by the company that owns the equipment. Pet-friendly policies are most common for long-haul routes; many local companies will be stricter and even have a “no pet” policy since these routes will be home daily. For those that allow drivers to have pets, weight limits, breed restrictions, and quantity limits are a common practice. Since cabs are a limited space, a common weight limit for a pet is up to 25 or 30 pounds. Additionally, some companies may require a pet deposit to cover cleaning and any potential damages a pet may cause to company property. Overall, policies will vary from company to company, so be sure to thoroughly review yours before taking further steps!

If all the benefits of keeping a pet on a road has convinced you it’s time to get one of your own, keep in mind it is a big decision.Your pet will require extra care and attention during your daily routine. The first important step is selecting the right animal for you. The most common type of pets truckers keep in their cabs are dogs. However, some truckers have kept smaller animals such as cats with success! Take into account the different personalities and needs of cats vs. dogs; while dogs can go outside on leashes for walks and bathroom breaks, cats will require a litter box in the cab. Dogs will like to play fetch outside or chomp on a chew toy, and cats prefer indoor toys such as chaser wands and toy mice. If dogs and cats do not work for you, some truckers have even been able to keep birds and mini pigs in their cabs! Personality and energy levels will also play a large part in finding the right fit. A more leisurely, relaxed, and friendly animal will likely be a better suited deposition for a trucking companion than one requiring a lot of space and exercise.

Pets are always a large responsibility, whether you are on the road or at home. Pack the proper supplies for your pet such as water, food, toys, leashes, carriers, and medications. Keeping records of vaccinations, vet visits, and proof of ownership will also be important for responsibly bringing a pet along. It can also be wise to keep a list of vet clinics along your route in the case of an emergency. Schedule plenty of play and bonding time with your pet to keep them happy and socialized. Before you bring your pet along for the first time, take care to “pet proof” your cab to create a safe and healthy environment. This includes blocking off the driver area and access to the pedals, a designated spot for the animal to rest, storing important paperwork out of the way, and an accessible water supply. The FMCSA does not have any specific laws regarding truckers and pets, but safety should still be a priority. Keep your pets secure when operating your truck, and harness them into a buckle if applicable in case of an accident.

Trucking is one of the most challenging jobs out there, and loneliness is one of the hardest things drivers face on long hauls. Luckily, trucking companies have become increasingly pet-friendly, encouraging drivers to bring a companion on the road to improve mental, emotional, and physical health. If you want to bring an animal copilot along your travels, take care to plan and prepare. Review company policies, find the right pet for your lifestyle, and stock up on supplies. Hitting the road with man’s best friend is a sure way to keep you, and your pal, happy and healthy!

Ready to find a job where you can bring your buddy? Check out these openings with companies with a pet rider policy hiring now!