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Many dogs love riding in cars, as it gives them a chance to check out the scenery, enjoy novel odors, and bark at the motorists in adjacent lanes!
Owners often love having a canine co-pilot too, so you’ll see plenty of pooches riding down the street on any given day.
But while car rides are usually fun for dogs and their drivers, few people understand that four-legged passengers can make driving much more dangerous than normal (and, let’s face it – driving is pretty hazardous in even the best of circumstances).
In fact, dogs not only raise your risk of having an accident, they can make accidents more dangerous too.
Fortunately, there are ways you can help mitigate these dangers and keep your beloved bestie safe when riding around town.
Crash-tested car crates and dog car seats (which are more for canine comfort than actual safety) are both good solutions, but today, we’ll discuss harnesses designed to keep your pup safe during car trips.
No time to read the full article? Here are our top picks. Keep reading for more details!
Pick #1: Sleepypod Clickit Safety Harness
Pick #2: Sleepypod Terrain Harness
Pick #3: ZuGoPet Rocketeer Pack
Driving or riding in a car is a dangerous practice in any situation, and it is probably the most dangerous activity in which most people engage on a regular basis. But adding a furry four-footer to the mix makes you more likely to have an accident, primarily because dogs have a tendency to distract drivers.
In fact, 65% of drivers in one survey, who bring their dogs along in the car admit to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity – and that’s only the ones who admit it! Many others probably become distracted without having the courage to admit it.
These types of distractions can occur if your dog simply moves around while the car is in motion, or if you pet her or give her a treat. And because taking your eyes off the road for as little as two seconds doubles your risk for having an accident, this is a serious problem, which must be avoided as much as is possible.
But dogs aren’t just a distraction that increases the chances that you’ll have an accident – they can also cause additional damage and injuries if you are in a fender bender. That’s because unrestrained dogs may fly through the cab of your car or truck if you are in a wreck.
In a best-case scenario, your dog will only slam into you and give you a few bruises; but in a worst-case scenario, your dog may crash into you with enough force to cause serious bodily harm. Even a 10-pound dog will create 500 pounds of force in a 50-mile-per-hour accident. Big dogs are even more dangerous: An 80-pound dog in a 30-mile-per-hour crash can impart 2,400 pounds of force.
These types of forces can certainly injure you, and they’ll likely hurt your dog badly too. But, it is also possible that your dog will hit a window instead of you. This could effectively launch them from the vehicle, which will certainly lead to catastrophic injuries.
Unfortunately, a lot of car harness manufacturers use deceptive marketing practices when advertising their products. This can lull you into a false sense of security and give you the impression that your dog is safer than you think she is.
For example, many manufacturers label their harnesses as having been crash tested. However, this does not mean they passed such tests – only that they were put through the testing procedure (I know, crazy, right?). Instead, you’ll want to find a harness that specifically is labeled as having passed crash test studies.
Other manufacturers may get their harness to pass a crash test, but the test was performed by their own employees or subsidiary – this is hardly a way to get accurate or non-biased results. These types of studies are rarely published in detail, so it is impossible to determine if they were valid studies or not.
Instead, you want a harness that has been tested by a 3rd party group, and has passed the test – hopefully with flying colors. Fortunately, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) conducts exactly these types of tests and publishes their testing protocols and results so that pet owners can make informed choices.
Aside from being crash-test certified by the CPS, you’ll want to look for a few additional characteristics and features when selecting a good dog harness for your car. Some of the most important considerations include:
In many ways, you’ll want to treat your dog like you would a baby or small child. This means not only using an appropriate harness but also making sure that they ride in the safest part of the car. Generally, this means the back seat.
The back seat of a car provides the most protection for your dog, as she’ll be contained between and shielded by both rows of seats. Additionally, by being secured in the back seat, you can prevent your dog from crawling around the cab and distracting you.
By contrast, the rear cargo portion of most SUVs is a crumple zone, which is specifically designed to deform in the case of an accident. This makes the cargo area a very bad place to allow your dog to ride. The front seat is also problematic, as your dog is not shielded from the windshield, and airbags can often injure dogs when they deploy – especially small dogs.
So, be sure to strap your dog in with a good harness, and have her ride in the backseat to keep you both as safe as possible.
If you drive with your dog frequently, you’ll want to select a good car harness, which has been crash-test certified and provides all of the things you’d want in a harness.
The following three are the best available options and the only harnesses that have been crash-test certified by the CPS. These are the safest car harnesses out there!
About: The ZuGoPet Rocketeer Pack is a complete car harness kit, which is designed to keep your dog safe, secure, and comfortable while riding in your automobile.
What’s really cool and unique about this harness is that you can take it with you upon reaching your destination and use it as a wearable dog-carrier.
Sure, it looks a bit strange, but don’t worry – your dog is comfy and safe! In fact, the ZuGoPet Rocketeer Pack passed two different crash-safety tests and obtained a perfect, 5-star score in each. It’s vet-approved too!
Make sure to measure your dog carefully for the best fit – a poor fitting harness is basically useless in a crash, as your dog could slip right out!
About: The Sleepypod Clickit Safety Harness uses a minimalist, yet effective design to keep your dog safe during road trips.
Specifically designed to spread and distribute potentially dangerous forces across your dog’s body, this harness is especially wide, which helps keep your dog comfortable while traveling.
The Sport Utility is one of the few crash-test-certified car harnesses available in a variety of colors. It can also function as a walking harness, thanks to the included D-ring on the back of the neck.
Sleepypod also manufactures one of the few crash-test-certified dog car crates as well, so they really know their stuff when it comes to keeping your fur baby safe.
About: The Terrain Safety Harness is another car harness made by Sleepypod. Built with all of the high-end features you’d want in a safety harness; the Terrain helps keep your dog secure and comfortable while riding in the backseat of your car.
Do you have a good car harness for your dog? We’d love to hear about the model you use and your experiences with it. We’d also love to know how strict our readers are about strapping their dog in when riding around.
My Rottie loves riding in the car, and she goes with her ma or pa 90% of the time we leave the house. And while she normally rides in the back seat of our truck while wearing a car harness, I’ll occasionally let her jump in our Wrangler and ride with me up front with the top down. I don’t let her ride like this often, and I still keep her strapped in while doing so, but it is obviously not as safe as the backseat of our truck.
Point being, nobody is perfect and we all make decisions in the real world. So, don’t fear judgment – tell us about how you and your pooch ride around.
Last update on 2019-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.