OK to leave dog in car? Dear Labby advises

Dear Labby,

My friends are telling me that they bring their dogs everywhere they go – even for a dinner out – because they’re too smart/vivacious/young/nervous etc. to leave at home for three hours. They say the dogs would prefer to be in the car knowing their owners will come back, rather than wait anxiously at home.

I don’t leave my toddler wrapped in a fur coat in the car while I run my errands (nor would they), so why do they think it’s ok for their dog? And is it ok to leave your dog in the car when the weather is not hot? How can I help my friends understand leaving them in the car is not better than the alternative and do so anonymously?


I’m Naturally Concerned About Relegating Canine to Enclosed Ride And Thus Endangering Dog

You’re very right to be concerned, as this is a matter of safety as well as etiquette. Clearly you’ve heard the reports of dogs who met their death after owners “innocently” left them in the Chevy for an hour. On a warm day, a car can quickly become an oven, and the results are fatal.

But myriad other things can go wrong as well. A dog left alone in a car, even in mild temperatures with cracked windows, is vulnerable. No one is immune from sudden severe weather or taunting 8th grade boys. Which is why I also hate to see dogs tied up outside restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops.

I sense your friends mean well, I.N.C.A.R.C.E.R.A.T.E.D., but they just don’t have accurate information. That said, unsolicited doggie advice is about as welcome as a sharp stick in the eye, so an indirect approach may be your best bet:

“When Betty adopted her Papillon, the dog was so anxious, she even brought him into the bathroom with her. But the behaviorist showed Betty exactly how to make the dog feel comfortable and secure during his alone time. Now everyone is so much happier and the dog is mentally healthier too.”

If that doesn’t work, I recommend the direct approach. Send your friends the following article:

K-9 dog dies after left in hot car

And yep, you’ve got my blessing to do so anonymously.