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Do You Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car for 10 Minutes? I Do

I do leave my black Lab mix Ace alone in my parked car.

This is just not a big deal to me.

If I leave him, it’s usually for 10 minutes while I run into the grocery store to get 1 or 2 items.

I don’t worry about the heat, because if it’s hot I don’t leave him.

Sometimes I do worry that some “animal rights” nutcase will break into my car to “rescue” my dog. I live in California, after all.

Has anyone else ever worried about that? Or am I just a worrier?

Don’t get me wrong, of course it can be dangerous to leave a dog alone in a hot car. The media love to remind us of this every year.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure we’re all plenty aware of the risks. Most people love their dogs very much and are not going to leave their dogs in the car if it’s not safe.

It’s called common sense.

Dog alone in the car 10 minutes

And rather than worry about some silly rule like “cars can heat up to such-and-such temperature within such-and-such time,” it’s important to consider the real factors.

Quick factors to consider when leaving a dog in the car

Leave your ideas in the comments, and I’ll add them to this main list.

Weather conditions

– The actual temperature outside is one thing, but how about humidity, direct sunlight and what it actually feels like outside?

– Is there a breeze? Is there shade?

– Is your dog already hot from running around? Is he sopping wet from swimming?

– And what about cold? Usually not a factor, but it can be.

– Also remember how quickly weather conditions can change in some areas.

Time you’ll be gone

– If you’re caught in line at the store, can you just drop your things and go back to the car?

– What if you’re in line at a bank or pharmacy? Can you come back later?

Trust in other people passing your car

– Is this a safe area? (sometimes a false sense of security, obviously)

– Is it a busy street or parking lot where someone could rear-end your car? (this happened to my parents when their dogs were in the car)

– Could there be kids/teenagers/drunk adults walking by who might tease your dog?

– Is your dog one that will bark and draw attention?

– Is it warm enough where someone might feel the need to “rescue” your dog?

Laws in your area

– Some states have laws against leaving a dog in a parked car under some circumstances such as extremely hot or extremely cold weather.

– In some areas, it’s legal to break into a car to rescue a dog.

Your dog’s comfort level being in the car

– Some dogs love being in the car, like my dog. Others find it stressful.

– Will your dog scratch at the door? Chew the seatbelts?

– Will he pace and pant frantically, giving off the appearance that he’s too hot?

– Will he bark nonstop and draw attention?

– Could he bite someone who reaches through the window?

It’s all common sense, right?

Frankly, it’s just not a big deal to me to leave a dog in the car for 10 minutes or even up to an hour or two in colder climates. I’ve done so countless times with my own dogs.

It’s probably because I’ve mostly lived in suburban or rural areas where this is common and I felt there were very few risks.

How about you?

Do you ever leave your dog alone in the car?

What other factors should be on this list?

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Thursday 22nd of June 2017

For some reason my dog loves my car. I guess it was the first place he knew was "his" since he got out of the pound. He's got separation anxiety really bad and will cry and whine when he's alone (except for when in my car). I'm lucky enough I can take him to work everyday. He is always with me or my wife. Even at work though during the cooler months of fall he prefers being in my car by himself than an climate controlled spacious office with a bed, water, and food. He's is a child to me and is priceless. I was having neck pain all day so after work I wanted to pick up a new pillow it took about 12 to 15 minutes. When I got in my car this lady pulls up and starts scolding me about my illegal actions and that I should be ashamed. I invited her to call the authorities to come but she just left. I wish I could of shared some more words with her. I don't know if she thinks the life he had before me at the pound 20 pounds under weight, stuck in a kennel with barking dogs, and on the list to be put to sleep would be better for him. I wonder if she eats store meat and if she does why is she not being a hero for those animals. I wonder who she thinks she is to judge me.


Sunday 19th of June 2016

A therapy dog, emotional support animal and service dog are all different.

This is my understanding of the three:

A theapy dog is registered with an organization and has to pass an evaluation.

Therapy dogs visit places with their owners such as nursing homes, schools, hospitals, etc. to visit with people. These are animal assisted activities.

Therapy dogs and their owners may also work with someone like a physical therapist and be used during a patient's treatment. They may have the patient brush the dog or walk next to the dog as part of their therapy. These are animal assisted therapies.

An emotional support animal is what people with PTSD or severe anxiety would have. I think this is what people have doctors "prescribe" for them and are then allowed to have the animal in places like apartments that don't allow pets. They are not a service dog and do not have the same rights as a service dog.

A service dog is a dog that has been specially trained and the dog performs a task for the disabled person. They are the ones that can go into places where "no pets" are allowed.


Thursday 16th of June 2016

Therapy dogs (or emotional support animals) don't have the same rights as service dogs do. So no, therapy dogs can't technically go with you everywhere, only places where normal pet dogs can go.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 16th of June 2016

That's what I thought.


Thursday 16th of June 2016

I never leave my dog in the car. Ever. I live in a big city and people do steal dogs for pit bull bait. I would die if my dog disappeared and I never knew what happened to him. I simply won't take that chance. Now, we are thinking of having him become a certified therapy dog. If he does, I can take him inside all buildings. Problem solved?

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 16th of June 2016

Can therapy dogs go everywhere?


Thursday 16th of June 2016

I think it's perfectly acceptable to leave our Furbabies in the car for very short periods. I love taking my Cockapoo out with me whenever I can as he adores trips in the car, it's another treat for him. He just loves being wherever I am so even a 5 min drive to my local store he loves.