Trucking

Trucking Life with Dogs: Traveling Tips + Breed Recommendations

CT Team

Share

Table of Contents

When you’re on the road for weeks or months at a time it can get awfully lonely out there. For many people, music, podcasts, and phone calls work for a while, but even that gets old and you’re left craving something more substantial, a physical presence. Since we’re a social species it’s normal to feel this way. For tens of thousands of years, humans have solved their companionship dilemmas by tapping into our long standing relationship with dogs. Everyday, dogs are working as emotional support animals, K-9 police, various service jobs, and trucker dogs.

7 cute dogs on a truck

Can Truckers Have Pets?

Whether or not a trucker can have a dog depends on the company they work for. Some companies prohibit pets, while others don't care if you do or don't, and some even encourage keeping a pet. Here at CloudTrucks, we believe in empowering our drivers to make their own decisions. We want you to enjoy a healthy, happy life as a truck driver and maintaining your mental health is important to us. So, we encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of taking your dog with you on the road, and if you think it will help you, then, by all means, go for it. 

Trucking With a Dog

“Pets can influence our emotional state, our sense of security and acceptance, and even our positive outlook on life,” - Dr. Maria Illiopoulou, alumni of the Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Is trucking with a dog a good idea? Once the pet is trained and prepared for a life on the road, yes. You'll notice many drivers walking their dogs if you spend any time at a truck stop. 

According to Dr. Maria Iliopoulou, who has devoted her life to studying the human-animal bond, interactions with pets contribute to good health, quality of life, and healing from serious illnesses.

Benefits of owning a pet:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • A boosted immune system that can help you avoid getting sick on the road
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Reduced depression

Suggested Breeds for Truck Drivers

a puppy waiting to eat a cookie

The best dog breeds for truckers tend to be small to medium-sized dogs that are calm and even tempered. Older dogs make great traveling companions due to their low energy requirements.

Below you’ll find a list of the best dog breeds for truck drivers along with information about temperament, life expectancy, height, weight, and the pros and cons of each breed.

Pugs

They are described as loving and charming, but they can sometimes be a little mischievous. 

Height: 10 - 13 inches

Weight: 14 - 18 pounds

Life expectancy: 13 - 15 years

Exercise Requirements: Average

Pros

  • easier than average to train
  • lower than average barking
  • Highly adaptable

Cons

  • Sheds a lot
  • Needs to be groomed at least twice a month
  • Higher than average energy (not necessarily a con, but in the limited space of a semi-cab, this can become a problem for some drivers)

Chihuahuas

This breed is often described as energetic and charming, yet they can get a little sassy even if they love you. 

Height: 5 - 8 inches

Weight: 6 pounds or less

Life Expectancy: 14 - 16 years

Exercise Requirements: Higher than average

Pros 

  • Lower than average shedding
  • Higher than average adaptability 
  • Easier than average to train

Cons

  • Much higher than average barking
  • Not as friendly with children or strangers
  • Highly excitable

Miniature Pinschers

They are bold, flamboyant and they love to have fun. 

Height: 10 - 12.5 inches

Weight: 8 - 10 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 - 16 years

Exercise requirements: Very high

Pros

  • Easier than average to train
  • Extremely protective
  • Highly adaptable

Cons

  • Sheds a little more than average
  • Barks a lot
  • High mental stimulation needs

Bulldogs

They are friendly and brave, with a strong preference for calm 

Height: 14 - 15 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Life Expectancy: 8 - 10 years

Exercise Requirements: Lower than average

Pros

  • Calmer than average
  • Highly trainable
  • Moderately adaptable

Cons

  • Lower than average life expectancy
  • Drools a lot
  • Higher than average shedding

Miniature Schnauzers

They are intelligent and obedient with big hearts full of love.

Height: 12 - 14 inches

Weight: 11 - 20 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 years

Exercise Requirements: Higher than average

Pros

  • Highly adaptable
  • Easy to train
  • Great with family and children

Cons

  • Barks a lot
  • Higher than average shedding
  • Higher than average need for stimulation

Miniature Poodles

They are brilliant and active little dogs with a lot of pride. 

Height: 10 - 15 inches

Weight: 10 - 15 pounds

Life Expectancy: 10 - 18 years

Exercise Requirements: Very high

Pros

  • Longer than average life expectancy
  • Lower than average shedding
  • Super easy to train

Cons

  • Higher than average barking
  • Extremely high need for stimulation
  • Needs frequent grooming

Yorkshire Terriers

They are alert and rambunctious yet very affectionate. 

Height: 7 - 8 inches

Weight: 7 pounds

Life Expectancy: 11 - 15 years

Exercise Requirements: Higher than average

Pros

  • Lower than average shedding
  • Easy to train
  • Highly adaptable

Cons

  • Higher than average barking
  • Needs frequent grooming
  • Higher than average need for stimulation

Shih Tzus  

They are adorable and affectionate yet very outgoing.

Height: 9 - 10.5 inches

Weight: 9 - 16 pounds

Life Expectancy: 10 - 18 years

Exercise Requirements: Higher than average

Pros

  • Longer than average life expectancy
  • Easy to train
  • Lower than average shedding

Cons

  • Higher than average stimulation needs
  • Higher than average barking
  • Requires frequent grooming

Boston Terriers

They are smart,  friendly, and they love to play.

Height: 15 - 17 inches

Weight: 12 - 25 pounds

Life Expectancy: 11 - 13 years

Exercise Requirements: Average to higher than average

Pros

  • Lower than average shedding
  • Easy to train
  • Adaptable

Cons

  • Shorter than average life expectancy
  • Higher than average need for stimulation
  • Average barking

While this list of dog breeds for truck drivers is not comprehensive, these are some of the best dogs for truck drivers. A dog's natural ability to adapt and intelligence make each of these dogs easier to train, which is essential when dealing with traveling and confined spaces.  Since life on the road is often predicated on limited weight and cramped space, these smaller dogs will have an easier time adapting to the confines of the truck. And, since a fundamental reason for taking a dog on the road is companionship, each of these dog breeds has a long track record for being affectionate and playful breeds, factors that further enhance the companionship experience for you and the dog you select. 

We'd also like to point out that while it is possible to acquire a grown dog, such as a rescue dog, from a shelter, they may not adapt as well to living on the road. On the other hand, puppies will give you the longest possible relationship with your dog, perhaps lasting the bulk of your career. While challenging, training your dog from a pup will make life on the road much easier for your dog.  

How to Potty Train a Puppy in a Semi

Puppies can be a challenge for drivers because they lack training, high energy, curiosity, and need for frequent potty breaks.

Experienced drivers who have raised puppies have suggested starting with the puppy in a crate for a few hours a day and stopping every few hours. Always use a leash when taking your dog out for walks. Line your seat and other areas of your truck that you want to keep clean with old papers and puppy pads. Place barriers around vulnerable wiring and other truck cab parts that your puppy may attempt to chew on. 

For pets, reward-based training (called positive reinforcement) is more effective than punishment-based training. The Humane Society offers some positive reinforcement training tips:

  • Timing - Reward must occur within seconds of the desired behavior.
  • Keep it short - Dogs don't understand sentences, so give them single-word commands such as "sit" and "down."
  • Consistency is vital - Everyone involved should use the same commands, cues, and rewards.

Avoid inadvertently giving positive reinforcement for unwanted behaviors. For example, by letting the dog outside whenever they bark at a noise, you are teaching them that barking will give access to the yard.

How to Keep your Dog Safe While Traveling

A lot occurs on the road between loading, unloading, driving, and at rest areas and truck stops. Although truck driver safety is paramount, keeping your dog safe is also important. Fortunately, dogs have proven themselves quite capable of adapting to different circumstances. Here are some tips to keep you, your dog, and everyone else on the road safe, healthy, and happy: 

  • Use a seat belt - Some harnesses can be integrated with seat belts so the dog doesn’t wander.
  • Train the dog - Use positive reinforcement to keep the dog away from the driver's side while the truck is in motion.
  • Stop often - Dogs need to exercise and have a potty break. This helps to prevent accidents in more ways than one. 
  • Keep a doggy bowl for water - This helps your dog stay hydrated on the road.
  • Keep your dog on a leash - When you take your dog out for a walk or to go potty, it’s important to keep them on a leash. Most places you’ll stop at have a lot of truck traffic which poses a danger to your dog, and many locations have leash laws etc. 
  • Make sure your dog gets exercise - Take note of stops with a fenced-in area for dogs where you can let your pooch run free for some extra exercise. Dogs typically behave better and are calmer if they can get plenty of exercise.
  • Avoid leaving your dog in a hot truck. Many trucks have APUs or idle management systems that enable you to keep your truck safe and cool for your dog. Still, if you're going to be away from the truck for more than a few hours, it's a good idea to make arrangements to keep your dog safe and healthy.
two medium-sized dogs on a truck

How to Pet-Proof Your Truck

Puppies are, by nature, rambunctious. While you're still training your dog, ensure they do not have access to your pedals or interfere with your driving. Constructing a doggy-proof barrier to prevent them from getting down by your feet is a necessity when training your dog. Once your dog has a good grasp of the trucking life, it's usually possible to do away with the barrier. 

Dogs get bored just like people do. Keeping plenty of chewable toys, water, dog food, and treats on hand will make a world of difference in your dog’s life on the road. The more comfortable your dog is and the more you engage with them, the better they will behave.

Tips for Traveling with your Dogs

  • Keep a leash handy, so you can quickly take your dog out during rest breaks. 
  • Keep a copy of all their records, including vaccinations, medications, and other necessary paperwork in your truck, to prove your dog’s ownership. Since the unexpected can occur, having your dog chipped and tagged is  a good idea.
  • Bring enough food and water to keep your dog fed and hydrated for the duration of your time on the road. 
  • Keep some air fresheners, cleaners, scrub brushes, towels, and lint rollers handy in case your dog has an accident. 
  • Keep loose items secured, so your dog doesn't get into anything important or get injured by a loose item knocking around. 
  • Bring extra dog blankets and other comfort items your dog enjoys. 
  • Dedicate a space for your dog so they can have room for themselves to play, sleep, and feel safe. A crate or carrier can help designate a space for your dog and can come in handy if you switch to a different truck because of a breakdown or an upgrade.

Trucking Companies that Allow Dogs

If you intend to take your pet with you on the road, it’s helpful to know which companies allow them. Here is a list of a few companies who have long standing pet policies. Please note, companies change their policies regularly, so it’s a good idea to obtain up-to-date information when you speak with their recruiters to ensure that their pet policies haven’t changed. 

  • Prime Inc.
  • Woody Bogler Trucking
  • Crete Carriers
  • J.B. Hunt
  • Knight/Swift
  • Roehl 
  • Shaffer Trucking
  • Stevens Trucking

Some of these companies have various weight restrictions and/or require deposits, and they may also have other requirements, so before you start driving for them, make sure you understand and are okay with their pet policies. 

Dogs are legendary for being our best friends and bringing your dog with you on the road can be a great way to dispel the loneliness of the road and help you and your dog stay healthy and happy. However, bringing your dog with you also adds to the responsibilities you have to juggle as a truck driver and caring for them is another demand on your time. But, if you’re ready for the added responsibility, the loyal companionship dogs offer and the ability to take your dog on the road with you may just be one of the most rewarding experiences in your truck driving career.

Related Articles

Start driving with CloudTrucks!

Have questions? Give us a call at (469) 250-1214