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Top 5 Reasons Why A Dog Sticks His Head Out The Car Window

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Yesterday I was driving home from work when I saw a dog stick his head out the car window.  It was a beautiful Golden Retriever wearing a gentle leader, sniffing the air, and in general just enjoying the car ride.  I pulled out my handy dandy new DROID Phone and snapped a few pictures while waiting at the stop light.

This got me to thinking why do dogs like to stick their head out the car window?  As usual I began my search on the web and also asked a few dog loving friends the question: Why do dogs stick their head out the car window?

Dogs, Cars, Windows, And Safety First

I wanted to start off by saying it can be very dangerous to let your dog hang his head out the car window.  There’s all kinds of debris scattered on the road and it often kicks up from the cars in front.  Just take a look at my windshield (several nicks) or the front of my car (chipped paint and minor dents).

Now just think about your dog hanging his head out the car window getting pelted in the eye by a tiny rock at 50 mph.  I don’t even want to think about the vet bill let alone the pain and suffering your dog would endure if he caught a pebble in the eye.  I’ve never used them before, but I’ve heard that some people have their dogs wear Doggles when they hang their head out the window of a moving car.

A friend of mine used to let his dog hang her head out the window until one day his collie mix jumped out the car window at 30 mph.  Lucky for him there was no oncoming traffic and his dog didn’t get injured on her fall to the ground.

Also, if your dog has allergies like mine then all the pollen and dust flying into your dog’s face could cause an allergic reaction.

I just wanted to let you know about some of the dangers of letting your dog stick his head out the car window.  After all you wouldn’t let your own child stick his head out the window of a moving car so why would it be appropriate for your dog to hang his head out the car window?

As a child my parents never let me stick my head out the window.  The few times I tried I seem to recall receiving a quick smack to the butt.  I’ll crack the window for my dogs and they’ll put their nose about against the window, but I never let my dogs put their entire heads out the car window.

Top 5 Reasons Why A Dog Sticks His Head Out The Car Window

Now that I got my safety speech out of the way we can get to our list of Top 5 Reasons Why A Dog Sticks His Head Out The Car Window. Lets do it David Letterman style and begin with a countdown.  Drum roll please……….

NUMBER 5 – It helps them to cool off faster inside a hot car.

NUMBER 4 – So they can pretend like they’re running at an incredible rate (see the movie Dumb and Dumber).

NUMBER 3 – To make sure you’re driving safely on the road.

NUMBER 2 – This is a sure sign that you stink!  Your dog is obviously trying to avoid your stench.

NUMBER 1 – They love to sniff the air…

Of course just like the David Letterman list the Number 1 answer is always anti-climatic although in today’s case it’s probably the closest to the truth.  It’s my understanding from what I’ve heard from friends and family, read in books and on the internet, and observed, dogs have such a keen sense of smell that being able to put their noses entire heads out the car window is like a natural high.  They get to catch many different smells passing through the air and because the car is moving so fast these smells are constantly changing.  I guess it might be similar to watching some beautiful scenery pass by.

Anyhow that’s my take on why a dog sticks his head out the car window.  Just remember, if you do let your dog hang his head out the car window then please be careful and protect your dogs eyes with a product like Doggles, get him a safety restraint so he can’t jump out of the car, and maybe just try cracking the window so he can catch the scents with his nose, but not put his entire head out the window.  As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to end up with a huge vet bill just because your dog was hanging his head out the window of your car.

How about you?  What kind of experiences have you had with dogs sticking their head out the car window?  Do you allow your dog to ride with his head out the window?  Do you take any safety precautions?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. I’m glad you found your dog. One of our guide dog puppies, Dublin moved to AZ years ago. When he and his partner visited we had them start at the front of our track to see if he remembered where our house was in the neighborhood. He took his partner straight to our house. Dogs have great memories and tracking abilities. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I took my dog to my brothers house we ate dinner and when I went outside to check on my dog he was gone. We searched for him for hours no dog. I went home and there he was wagging his tail I wonder how he knew his way back home (3 miles​ hummm)

  3. I have a yellow lab. I have walks him since he was a pup as I live in the city.
    I trained him with the simple word “stop” as I walked him on his leash I would stop suddenly and say stop , over and over. Just the gentle pull back of the leash he started stopping immediately.
    Now she I’m out with him. I have no leash any more and he behaves as I he was on one. Squirrels is his passion. But if he goes to chasing on and comes to the edge of his boundary I just say stop! In a firm voice and he stops.
    That’s how I how I trained my lab whom is now 7yrs old and we still have to use stop and it still works.

  4. How about trying that thing called a leash? Do they not have leash laws where you live??? That would save all those innocent people from risking THEIR lives trying to avoid hitting your dog. Sheesh.

  5. Well said Laurie! It’s more important to keep your dog safe from injury. Our guide dog pups ride on the passenger side floor boards and my dogs wear a harness and seat belt when we go for car rides and are never allowed to hang their heads out the window.

  6. I would like to share a true story:
    My brother in law had just cleaned his car interior & used armor all. He then took his german sheppard “King” for a ride & had the windows rolled down. Unfortunately, he had to stop quickly which made King go flying out the window. The accident injured his hip/hind quarter. He had pain everyday for the rest of his life after that. I fortunately got to become King’s new human Mommy. Not sure exactly why they didn’t want King but, I was more than happy to become his Mommy. King walked the Rainbow Bridge some time ago & I miss my baby/best friend.
    So, I cannot stress enough to please keep your furbabies safe in your car by using safety belts/seat belts/harnesses, etc… and if you must let your furbabies hang their heads out the window please use safety belts/harnesses in case you have to stop suddenly. Also, doggles would be a great way to keep debris from flying into your furbabies eyes. They do not know what is safe so we must keep them safe.
    Hope this helps…
    God Bless,

  7. Hi Pat,
    First of all I cannot urge this enough, Please for your fur baby’s sake don’t let him go into the streets if he’s not trained correctly. I would like to suggest you watch Cesar Millan, “Dog Whisperer.” He has some excellent training techniques. He also has Training DVD’s. I’m not any way affiliated with him or his training materials. I watch his shows, “Dog Whisperer & Leader of the Pack.” Excellent shows! I have incorporated a lot of his techniques into my life & the life of my precious fur babies & I do have to tell you they do work. Your fur baby is still young & can learn pretty quick. Cesar Millan is on National Geographic Channel, NatGeoWild. He truly is the “Dog Whisperer.” He connects with owners & animals like no one I’ve seen. I think it is a gift from God. He is truly blessed & loves to pass on his connection with God creatures. Cesar uses Calm assertive techniques. Our fur babies unfortunately feed off our energy. They kind of act like us. It’s hard for me to explain it, Cesar does an excellent job at training owners & rehabiltating dogs. You’ll be amazed at what one can accomplish with the correct training techniques. Cesar has his own website: http://www.cesarsway.com/
    Hope this helps…

  8. How scary! I’m glad your pup came away okay. I don’t let my pups stick their heads out the window. I’m just to afraid that something might come flying up into their face.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  9. Today,my baby or 4 yr od silky-terrier Jackie decided after leaving his grooming apt.to Leap out the window as i was driving atleast 30 to 40 mph.He was momentarily hurt .But i was stabbed too the heart….thought i lost my baby as my other baby Yuri,cried in the passenger seat.HE WASNT MOVING,HE WAS DROOLING,HE URINATED AND POOPED as he layed there in shock on the road as I creid out, his eye– rolled and i quickley wrapped him in the towel and drove back too the vet -office.JACKIE IS 4YR OLD 9.2LB I DIDNT KNOW I LOVED MY DOGS ASMUCH AS I DO..PLEASE ALL DOG OWNERS DON’T..LET YOUR BABYS HANG OUT THE WINDOW….PERIOD.TODAY IS AUG 3,2012 I HAVE LEARNED A LESSON.Jackie has a medium scratch over the eye,and is a-okay(smile) THE VET OFFICE I PAYED THERE XCEL ENERGY BILL TODAY GASED UP THERE CAR AND PERHAPS BOUGHT LUNCH FOR THE OFFICE+ TIP.BUT HEY Ive got my bestest greatest baby JACKIEEE.close call learn from others mistake.BE WISE

  10. @Fred that would be a good site to promote Doggles. We always worry about dogs holding their heads out the window because we’ve heard many horror stories about the dogs getting hit by debris or losing eyes.

  11. Hey you guys should check this blog site out it’s awesome!

    Basically it’s all picture of dogs hanging out of car windows!

    So cute and……and funny!

  12. I have a 5 pound Maltese, she loves to stand on my lap and hang her little head on the base of the open window…. my left arm is under her and I hold on to her leash…. she loves it…. I let he do it on back roads up to about 25 mph…. her had sits behind the rear view mirror and it sort of acts like a windshield…plus I can see her face reflected in the mirror, she is happy as can be.. when I get to a point that I need to speed up I tell her so and she comes on in……. she loves it….

  13. @Pat, I think the best thing to do is to contact a local dog trainer and see what they can do to help you train your dog.

    I’ve been working for the past several months on sit-stay with my dogs to try and prevent them from chasing squirrels and running out into the street. They still are not perfect with these commands so I always have them on a leash when I take them on walks or have them in areas that are not safe or enclosed. Eventually I hope anytime I tell my dogs to “Sit” they will immediately sit-stay no matter where or what they are doing.

  14. I need help. I have a choc lab pup, age; 1 year 1 month. He has no fear of cars. He stays with me, usually, when I’m in the driveway or in the court yard… until something steals all of his attention all of a sudden. He darts out in the street to go across the street to say hello to our neighbor or to make friends with a chipmunk. I live on a relitively busy street. Then when he is bored, he come lumbering back to his yard. The cars are all over the place trying to avoid killing him. I can not seem to make an impression on him about the seriousness of THE STREET. I think I have tried everything. Since all streets look different and he goes with me almost everywhere, he doesn’t get it. He sometimes makes me think he has no desire to learn this important lesson. Please offer suggestions…. I am desperate. thanx, pat

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