Newbies - Tips From the Trainer

Twenty Years Old / Taking Dogs on the Truck

By Fozzy

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If I am 20 years old, would it be smarter to wait until I am 21 to get a trucking job since almost all companies don't hire anyone under the age of 21 or would it be good to get the CDL and courses out of the way and then take a refresher course when I turn 21?


It would be much smarter to wait until you are of age to actually take a trucking position before you attend the training for a CDL. Most companies will not hire anyone who has not had either recent experience in trucking or has attended (and passed) a certified or acceptable (to them) training school. At 21 it will be pretty tough to find an OTR / regional company that will accept you. You can start doing the research right now for the companies that do, but you may find that there are few who will. The industry "age" standard for hiring drivers is 23 years old.

There are a few ways that you can prepare for this career and set yourself up for success. One option is that there are quite a few large LTL (less than truck load) trucking companies like CON-WAY, Yellow, Roadway and UPS out there who are always looking for people to work in the "break bulk" centers. In these places you basically unload trailers full of different types of freight going to different places, segregate the freight into areas on the loading dock, then reload the now separated freight back into outbound trailers for deliveries to other places.

This would help you get a GREAT understanding of how to properly and safely load, and how to sort, COUNT and segregate freight. It would allow you to see how the manifests and bills of lading are filled out and handled. They would train you on how to handle hazardous materials and how to manifest and load them. You could get onto the yard helping hook up and break down sets of trailers and possibly drive the yard tractors getting valuable backing experience. This is tough work, but it is usually pretty well compensated.

You could check also with the local moving and storage companies. They will sometimes send you out on a truck as a driver's helper and you could see what the routes are like before you are subjected to them as a driver. It's also a lot of physical work, but the training is on the job and very eye opening. You could get a "free ride" from these companies to a CDL training school when you are old enough to obtain the CDL.

There are many "tricks of the trade" that you could learn from these types of opportunities before even having to have the CDL. These "tricks" are not being taught to the run of the mill trucking student and are usually a mystery to them until they are caught up in a situation where they are getting ticketed by some "enforcement type" or getting in hot water with their companies for mishandling some type of paperwork or freight.


Would you recommend a solo driver getting a dog for companionship? Is it worth the extra responsibility or does having the pet get in the way too much?


I really try to get people to think a little bit more before just tossing a dog into the truck. You need to first do some research and planning.

Having a dog in the truck is a pretty good way to have something to share your day with and something in the truck to talk to without feeling like a complete nut. Dogs seem to at least look at you like they are listening and understanding. This is a better reaction than you'll get at some shippers and receivers.

There are a few considerations on whether or not to take a dog or other pet on the truck with you. First of all, there is the fact that there are a lot of companies that simply do not allow pets to be on the trucks in the first place. DO NOT just toss Fido on the truck and think that no one will find out. Do this within the rules and you'll have a better experience. Some companies will allow pets, but place restrictions on the size of the pet and TYPE of pet allowable. Companies will allow dogs and cats, but other exotic pets are usually frowned upon or not allowed.

For sheer convenience and space in the truck, you should pick ONE dog and the dog you pick should be small to medium in size. I've seen people with numerous dogs and very LARGE dogs and I cannot really recommend that. Small and medium-sized dogs are just as good as large dogs at making a racket and letting other people know that there is something occupying the truck. The dog should be relatively young, but NOT a very young puppy. I would suggest going to the local SPCA and find yourself a buddy there. Make sure your dog is healthy and has all its shots and tags. Carry the paperwork in a safe place along with your important paperwork.

It's probably best if your dog is neutered or spayed (a pregnant dog would be a bummer) and these dogs are also less apt to take off in search of sexual conquests while you are looking the other direction. It would probably be a good idea to have your dog "micro-chipped" too. This is where a small, electronic tag is placed inside the skin of the dog and the animal control can simply wave a monitor over the dog and the information is downloaded. Tags can be removed or lost, so microchips are better.

Make sure you are well aware that if you quit while on the road or are fired for some reason, getting a pet home could be a nightmare for you. If you do not have access to a rental car and all the costs that it takes to get one, your pet will be almost impossible to get home.

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