Do you know that most dog harnesses will not keep your dog safe or save their life if you are in a car accident. Find out which is the best car harness for your dog, which are tested to child safety standards and which actually work to keep your dog safe.
Manufacturers of many dog safety products are not required to test their products before going to market, this included dog safety travel products like a car harness.
Some manufacturers claim to test their products, but with the absence of standards, we really don't know what standard they are testing to and whether they really performed well.
Dog Travel Statistics
AAA and Kurgo conducted a Pet travel survey that showed up some incredible statistics:
- 84% percent of respondents bring their dogs on car trips but do not use a restraint.
- The reasons for not using a pet travel restraint include:
- My dog is calm and do not think he/she needs a restraint (42%)
- Never considered it (39%)
- Just take dog on short trips (29%)
- Want dog to be able to put head out window (12%)
- Too complicated/too much trouble (7%)
- Want dog to have fun in the car (3%)
- Want to be able to hold dog (3%)
- An unrestrained small dog (10-pound) in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force.
Do I need to restrain my dog in a vehicle?
There currently is no United States federal regulations or Australian law that require dogs to be restrained inside a vehicle. There are, however, laws that required dogs not to be in the front seat or allowed to distract the driver.
An unrestrained dog in a car can be seriously injured or most likely killed. Furthermore, your dog will become a projectile and seriously injure or kill you, your children and other people in the car.
For the same reason that it is not recommended to put children in the front seat of a car, the front airbag system can be deadly to your dog during a crash , even if restrained. The best and safest way to travel with your dog in the car is to use a tested harness that can secure your dog safely in the back seat.
At The Dog Effect, we have spent hours researching the safest harnesses for your dog so you don't have to. Below we will review the three best car harnesses for your dog:
Why crash test a car harness for dogs
A safe and adequately tested harness will not only keep your dog safe, it will keep the other occupant in the car safe as will. Anything not secured inside a vehicle will become a projectile and potential injure or kill vehicle occupants.
The best car harness for your dog should be designed and tested to the same standards that we use for safety devices for ourselves and our children. All three harnesses reviewed have met the standards laid out in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 Child Restraint Systems (FMVSS 213)
How to crash test a car harness for dogs?
There are several crash testing sites in the US including The Center for Pet Safety, some Universities, and Research Centres. They use Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard specifications to test whether the harness is safe.
None of the crash test facilities used in testing these products use live animals. Instead, they use weighted soft toys dogs to simulate the size and weight of a pet dog
Here is a great video on crash testing harnesses by the NRMA Insurance company in Australia:
Note: the harnesses we have chosen have been tested post the 2013 NRMA testing. All of our chosen harnesses meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 213 Child Restraint Sytems (FMVSS213)
What make the best car harness for your dog?
The harnesses that survived the crash-test all had the following characteristics:
- Wider and stronger webbing material
- Fewer attachment clips making less areas to break
- Clips around the waist areas rather than the chest where all the load is
- Strong stitching
- Quality manufacture
1. Sleepypod Clickit Terrain Safety Harness
Sleepypod make the Clickit Terrain dog safety harness. It is light and easy to use, without sacrificing safety. It has been designed and engineered as a specific car safety harness and has been rigorously tested to the child restraint standard.
Design highlights include:
- 3 Points of contact
- Doubles as a walking harness
- Does not require baby seat LATCH anchors
- Exceptional lateral movement control
- Night reflectors for enhanced visibility.
- Requires minimal effort to connect to car
- Soft neoprene lining
- Velcro glow patches that can be used for service patches
- Energy absorbing material
The harness was put through stringent safety tests that included crash testing of all critical safety components including hardware, webbing and stitching. The Clickit harness was tested using the FMVSS-213 30 mph crash test that is used to test child safety restraints. It earned Top Performer in the Center for Pet Safety’s 2013 Safety Harness Study. See the report here.
The Sleepypod Clickit Terrain car seatbelt harness sizing guide is below:
Here is a short video about the features, option, sizing and fitting the Clickit Terrain car seatbelt harness
See below for the Sleepy Pod Clickit Sport Crash test:
2. Ruffwear Load Up Vehicle Harness
The Ruffwear Load Up Harness is a vehicle travel harness or dog sealt belt harness that is designed to safely transport dogs to and from adventures. Ruffwear is a quality product that only uses strength-rated hardware and components.
The seatbelt harness attaches to existing seatbelts to keep your dogs secure during sudden vehicle movements or crashes. The harness is easy to fit and adjust and is comfortable for your dog to wear outside the vehicle as well.
Ruffwear is known for a high quality prodcut and combines their extensive harness design knowledge with strength-rated hardware to build a specific vehicle restraint harness for dogs.
The harness is also designed with the dog’s comfort and safety in mind and the dog’s ability to move comfortably in the back seat was built into the design.
As part of our product development process, the Load Up Harness was tested at MGA Research Corporation, an independent test facility.
Three different sized
Here is a short video showing the harness being fitted.
Find below sizing and fitting guides for the Ruffwear Load Up Harness:
As always, it is important to install the car seat belt harness correctly in the car. Ruffwear provides guidance on installation below:
Below is the Ruffwear Load Up Harness Crash Test:
3. Kurgo Impact Car Harness
The Kurgo Impact Harness is a new crash-tested seat belt harness for dogs. Based on 8 years of engineering car harnesses, the Impact Harness is a totally new harness design using a single piece of high tensile tubular webbing with reinforced bar tacking. It is specifically designed for car safety and dog comfort.
This harness features is lightweight and integrates directly with your car seatbelt system. No additional seatbelts, straps or attachments necessary
It is constructed of a single piece of 4,000 pound tubular webbing with all-steel nesting buckles. The design reduces the distance that your dog pitches forward during impact. It has 4 adjustment points for a perfect fit on all shapes and sizes and a broad, padded chest plate for extra protection and comfort
To fit harness to your dog:
- release the nesting buckles and loosen the straps to easily fit your dog. Pull the harness over your dog, passing his head through the neck straps. The back pad should be on his back and the chest pad (with the Kurgo logo) should be on the front.
- One at a time, pull your dog's legs through the loops formed by the restraint and chest straps. Refasten the nesting buckles and adjust all straps to fit dog
- Load your pup into the backseat and have them sit. Pull the seatbelt down and pass it through both of the restraint straps on the back and connect seatbelt to the slot as normal
The webbing on the harness is one single piece so the harness is very adjustable to different proportions. We recommend selecting a size based on the weight of your dog. Please size up if your dog is on the edge of the weight range.
- Small: 10-25 pounds or 5-11 kilograms
- Medium: 25-50 pounds or 11-23 kilograms
- Large: 50-80 pounds or 23-36 kilograms
- XL: 80-110 pounds or 36-50 kilograms
The Kurgo Impact harness has been tested at an established University testing facility using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for child restraint systems. It has been tested for dogs up to 130 pounds.
The Kurgo Impact harness is tested for large dogs up to 130lb, much higher than other Kurgo harnesses. The Kurgo Try-Fit harness is only crash tested on dogs up to 75lb.
The Kurgo Impact is the most specifically designed Kurgo harness for safe vehicle travel. Some reviews find this one less versatile than other Kurgo harnesses and think that it can do with some more D-rings for multi-use. This will all depend on the size of your dog. If you have a large dog it is recommended that you use the Impact harness as this is tested to a higher weight.
Below is the crash test video of the Kurgo Impact Harness here:
Training your dog to wear a car seat belt harness
It is important to get your dog used to wearing the harness before you take off on a long trip. Make it fun for your dog. Put it on outside the car first and give your dog treats and encouragement.
Some dogs will by jumping in the car before you even know it, other will take some time. Be patient. Start with short trips at first and increase the length as your dog gets comfortable.
Supporting dog car safety
We all know that the Subaru car company is renowned for vehicle safety and work with crash testing companies to ensure only the best safety standards for our families. Subaru has teamed up with the Centre for Pet Safety to ensure that our pets too are protected.
Subaru have made some amazing ads featuring dogs. Have you all seen them? Here's one:
I love this one and I'm sure many of you can relate.....