When you’re behind the wheel, you become responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone in the vehicle (including your pup!) Even if you drive safely, it’s difficult to rely on other drivers on the road to be operating their 3,000 pound metal machine. Accidents happen and it would be awful to lose a pet from something out of your control. Cars weren’t made to keep pets safety in mind, but luckily there are many products that can help keep our pets secure!
With a car safety product, the goals are to prevent distraction of the driver and secure restraint. Your dog, like a small child, can also be killed by an airbag deploying onto them. The best place for a dog to be is in the back seat. By having your dog ride in the back seat you will greatly improve their safety and your own safety. Also, many dogs ride in open truck beds but in an accident, your dog will be flung out and sustain serious injury even if they are strapped down. Some cities also ban dogs riding in truck beds. Although many dogs enjoy the fresh air or sticking their heads out windows, leaving them unrestrained during an accident can cause your dog to fly out and run away in fear.
Dog Seat Belts: One of the simplest ways to secure your dog. A standard seat belt such as the Kurgo for dogs is a strap that hooks from the harness and clips into the seatbelt, like a tether. Do not clip the seatbelt to your dog’s collar or your dog can injure its neck. If lengthened appropriately, the seatbelt will also keep your dog from pacing in the back seat or trying to hop onto the front seat. A dog seat belt is mostly for the safety of the humans. Dogs riding unrestrained on the driver’s lap can block their vision and distract them. Distracted drivers are responsible for so many accidents that many states and cities have banned dogs riding in driver’s laps and categorized under animal cruelty. Some states prohibit driving with an unrestrained dog. An unrestrained dog can become a projectile. The seatbelt might be tempting for some eager chewers so remember to train them to avoid chewing it by providing better options such as a chew, using bitter deterrent sprays, or using a different method of restraint.
Harnesses: Even with a dog secured to a doggy seat belt, a poorly made harness will get destroyed in an accident. Specialized car harness provide more support and reduce and evenly spread pressure in an accident. These harnesses involve routing the car’s seat belt through the harness which is much more secure. Some harnesses are also “crash-tested” by the manufacturer or organization such as the Sleepypod’s Click-It harness or Ruffwear Load-Up harness. These tested harnesses can prove to be more safe, but are also pretty stiff and uncomfortable at first. Acclimate your dog to the harness first and soon they will ride with no issues!
Crates: Keeping your dog confined in a crate is one of the best ways to keep your dog safe, especially if tied down correctly. In an accident, the crate will not budge which will keep your dog safely contained. They are easy to clean, can be used for transport, and can lead to less stress if your dog is accustomed to crates. Also, it can prevent your dog from running away. Remember to size for a cozy fit, a roomy crate isn’t necessary unless traveling long distances. Remember all crates are not created equal. Do not use wire crates. In an accident, some crates can also be crushed or doors can pop open. Some good quality crates for a vehicle include Gunner Kennels and Ruff Tough Kennels!
Do you want to give your dog more freedom but still provide a safety net?
Barriers, partitions, ziplines, and hammocks are other options that are great for extremely large breeds or if you must provide your dog with more freedom. Secure barriers will provide a safety wall between the dog and the driver.
By keeping your dog secure, you reduce your risk of having to deal with expensive veterinary bills, lost pets, or even worse consequences such as the loss of life. Unfortunately, pet safety products aren’t created equally and it isn’t a government regulated industry like car safety. But the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety (CPS) has made efforts to improve pet safety products by conducting their own tests. Shockingly, the majority of products failed crash testing which helped to drive manufacturers to redesign their products. However some individuals have issue with CPS testing because of their use of weak anchor points so many manufacturers do their own crash testing, many of which you can view online! No matter which option fits you and your pet best, keeping a pet restrained will greatly reduce risks of injury.