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Every dog owner knows why dogs are called “man’s best friend.” But perhaps no group knows it better than truck drivers.

More than 45 percent of American households have dogs, but more than 60 percent of truck drivers report having pets; more than 40 percent report traveling with them in their trucks.

“The bond a trucker has with their dog is much like the bond a parent has with their child,” says David Binz, an owner-operator who drives for Alaska West Express.

“We eat, sleep, play and go to work with our pets every day,” he says. “And I never have to leave my pet to go to work and my pet never has to leave me!”

Tammy Prop, whose husband Steven travels with their dog Riley, wholeheartedly agrees. “Having your dog with you on the road helps to break the ice with other people you come into contact with,” she says. “Plus, there is nothing like having your best friend riding shotgun while on a long stretch of highway.”

David Binz believes his four-legged passengers are more than mere company. They make him a happier, safer driver.

“When you pick up a pet and put it in the truck, you become a much safer driver,” says Binz, “All of a sudden you have a brand-new responsibility because you are responsible for somebody’s pet, or somebody’s future pet.”

And he credits Izzy, his eight-year-old Blue Heeler/pit bull mix, with making his transports successful.

Aside from the emotional benefits, drivers often say having a dog on the road positively affects their health. Walking the dogs daily contributes to weight loss and controlling diabetes. Worries about secondhand smoke harming their pet leads many drivers to quit smoking.

How to dog-proof your truck

  • Block off access to the clutch and brake until your pup is used to the new environment. You can remove the barrier after he or she gets comfortable.
  • If you have a small dog, make sure it can’t get under the seats where it could get stuck or pinched by the seat mechanism.
  • Be careful with medicine, food and trash. Store any chewable items up high or in compartments the dog can’t open.
  • Always have fresh water available in the truck. Watch for signs that your dog needs to stop for a bathroom break, such as pawing at the door or looking out the window.
  • Remember that road dogs get used to loud trucks, which can make them less afraid to run in front of one. Keep your dog on a leash at all times when outside of your cab.
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