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Dog safety harness for car travel

Half of my car’s back seat is occupied by Chloe’s Snoozer (medium) Lookout Model I, which she and I both like. It’s too bulky to travel with, however, and for trips where we plan to rent or travel in a car, I pack a safety harness for her. Finding one that worked, however, took some doing.

I first bought a CanineFriendly 3-in-1 vest harness, and while I liked the harness part (padded with fleece and sturdy but not weighty), it gave Chloe no slack to lie down. The seat belt passes through a slot in the harness itself, and Chloe only weighs 10 lbs., so she was pretty much pinned by the middle of her back to the seat back of the right rear seat. She could only be comfortable if I pulled a length of seat belt out and trapped it behind the flip-down armrest which, of course, largely defeated the goal of ensuring her safety in an accident.

The CanineFriendly product is not alone — the Ruff Rider Roadie is another example of a good-looking car safety harness that just won’t work for a small, light dog. On the other hand, Watson’s Canine Seat Belt Harness is just the ticket, with an attached strap that allows some movement — but it’s meant only for dogs 20 lbs. and up.

Happily the CanineFriendly vest harness also includes a sturdy D-ring. (It’s meant to allow the harness to be used with a leash, but I think it’s too chunky a harness for everyday use. Chloe’s normal harness is the light, mesh Airness harness from PetEgo.) I ended up buying a PetBuckle seat belt harness kit and using the strap from it with the CanineFriendly vest (the PetBuckle harness, though allegedly for dogs 10 lbs. and up, is incredibly heavy). The strap is beautifully sturdy and has a connector that clicks onto the latch bars people normally use for child seats (there is also an adapter through which the seat belt can pass). The combination gives Chloe some range of motion, but is certainly sturdy enough to protect her.

It was expensive, however, buying two products and combining them to create my ideal product. If I was starting all over again, I think I’d try ordering Snoozer’s product, the Snoozer Super Safety Dog Car Harness, which I’ve only seen in pictures. The vest portion looks substantial but not cripplingly heavy, and the strap would appear to allow a small dog to lie on its side. I’m also intrigued by Hunter K9 Gear’s Pet Vehicle Harness, which looks nicely-designed and is more reasonably priced.

I am not enthused about another Hunter K9 Gear product, the Pet Seat Belt with Strap, though it is very reasonably priced. I worry that a serious crash would be too much for the plastic quick-release buckles, and the narrow straps don’t pad and cradle the chest the way other products I’ve mentioned do. I would also not rig up a solution using your dog’s everyday harness and leash, since the stitching and hardware on these products are not designed to stand up to the force of a car crash.

5 comments

  • Vanessa Metz

    I like the Champion Canine Seat Belt system by USA K9 Outfitters for my dog when she travels in the car. http://usak9outfitters.com/CCSS.htm

    It comes in sizes from Extra Small (dogs less than 15 lbs) through Extra Large. The strap can connect to the car’s child safety seat anchor, or to the seatbelt. We leave a strap in each of our cars, connected to the child safety seat anchor, so it’s easy to use. The harness part is easy to put on the dog, too; I lay the harness on the seat, and my dog puts each of her feet in the openings, and then I pull the ends together over her back and clip it to the harness.

  • Wei

    Hi Mary-Alice, I just adopted a five year old Cavalier named Jay and he’s coming home in a few days so I’m preparing very excitedly. I found your blog while researching how to bring him back with me to the US, where I go to school, from Singapore, where I am for the next part of the year. One thing I’m wondering is would a safety harness be the best option for relatively short car rides (definitely under an hour)? I volunteer at a local shelter and sometimes get called to drive rescue dogs to and from the vet, either normally or for emergencies, and as these usually involve waiting 2-3 hours, I’d prefer not to leave him at home. He’s 10 kg so about 22 lbs (much bigger than Chloe, I was surprised), so which car harness would you recommend? I’m totally getting the XL Sturdibag for airplanes and the PetTube for longer trips on your recommendation! Thanks so much for the informative site, it’s been a godsend for a relatively inexperienced dog owner.

  • Lori Andersen

    I bought a seat belt leash, 5 years ago. it got broken, someone slammed car door on it. they are awesome and I would like another. how can i purchase a new one?

  • Hello, Wei! I’m so sorry to have taken this long to respond — I keep thinking that I’ll get a chance to test out Sleepypod’s newest generation car harness system…and I keep failing to. I anticipate that it’ll be a good thing — their products are always excellent — so that’s what I’d try, if I were you. I have the harness in my office, dangit — perhaps this will be the week! Here’s the link to the Clickit Sport: http://sleepypod.com/clickit-sport (And congratulations on adding Jay to your life — I’m thrilled for you both!!!)

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