The Importance of a Dog Safety Harness
It’s always fun to get out with your pup and have some fun. There are so many activities to do together. Maybe a road trip, going camping, hiking, or exploring new places together. But before you guys hit the road together there are some things you will want to consider to ensure the safety of both your pup and yourself. Does your four-legged friend wear a dog seat belt (or more accurately, a dog safety harness) when traveling in the car?
Many dogs love to lounge on the backseat, curl up in your lap, or sit with their heads sticking out of the window. While you want to make your dog’s car experience fun and happy, you should consider whether these options are the safest for you and your pup.
When the “fasten your seatbelt” sign lights up on your dashboard, take this queue and apply it to your dog as well. Many dogs ride comfortably and calmly secured in their seats with a belt designed just for that purpose. Dogs should ride in the rear seat whenever possible, well away from airbags. Passenger airbags can severely injure or kill a dog. If your dog must ride in front, disable the airbag.
Some safety hazards with having your dog unrestrained in a moving vehicle are:
- A dog who interferes with driver’s physical ability to drive the car. A dog sitting on the driver’s lap can interfere with steering. A dog who gets on or under the accelerator or brake pedals hits the gear shift, or blocks the driver’s view can cause an accident.
- A dog who interferes with driver’s mental ability to drive the car. When the driver’s attention is taken away from the road to deal with a dog’s behavior, the dog has become a safety hazard.
- If the car windows break or the doors pop open in an accident, a loose dog can escape, get hit on the road, or run off and become lost.
- A dog with her head out the window can suffer an injury to her eyes from bits of flying debris, or worse, can have her head smashed by objects that pass too close to the car (other vehicle mirrors, signs, branches).
This is only a few of many safety hazards but provides insight into some mishaps that occur if your dog is not properly restrained.
Good Car Manners
Congratulations if you have already accustomed your dog to riding in the back seat of your car with a dog safety harness. The #1 rule is – Pets ALWAYS go in the back seat. Does using a safety harness prevent distraction? Yes and no. Yes, it may prevent distraction, but you and your pet have some training to do. You must acclimate your pet to the safety device to ensure a positive user experience. This may take some time and depends on the pet.
Begin using the device on several short trips, and increasing the duration of those trips each time. Use a positive, reassuring, happy voice during your trips and lots of praise when you are done with your training. If your dog responds to treats, give them at the end of the training trip.
Selecting a Dog Safety Harness
Research shows that all dog safety harnesses are not created equal. Despite good intentions, many pet parents who are bucking up their dogs may not be using a harness that will keep your dog or passengers safe. The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) encourages pet parents to select a quality crash-tested dog safety harness to protect your pet and also protect your family if an accident occurs. CPS also warns against the use of long extension tethers and zip line style products during travel.
The Center for Pet Safety is the only independent nonprofit research and consumer advocacy organization working for you and your pets to cut through the marketing hype to get you the facts, author independent test protocols, and rating guidelines and ensure you have a fair and impartial partner in assessing pet product safety.
What do you Need to Know?
A study by the (CPS) and Subaru found serious flaws with many popular car restraints. Of all the restraints tested, only one provided adequate protection to the dog and the passengers of the vehicle.
First, you need to know that just because a product claims crash testing – doesn’t mean it PASSED crash testing. In many cases, the grade of “pass” is subjective and the manufacturer wants you to think they have completed ample due diligence.
Second, turn a discerning eye to those positive reviews you read about the product that may be bought and paid for by the manufacturer. “Give us a positive review and receive 25% off your next purchase!”. “We’ll give you a positive review in exchange for a product sample!” It happens every day. Be a wise consumer.
Third, in the case of an accident, a crash protection product will help protect you and your family and give your pet the best possible chance of survival.
To understand the safety that restraints can provide in an accident, the CPS looked at systems that manufacturers claimed were tested, crash tested, or have crash protection. They based the test on FMVSS 213 standards, which is the procedure currently used to certify child safety seats. The organization will then use the data to help develop standards for performance and test protocols of restraint systems since there are currently no such industry guidelines.
The CPS purchased a variety of harnesses and the testing occurred in two phases. Each harness was first subjected to a preliminary strength test; if the harness remained intact during the strength test, it would continue on to the crash test portion of the evaluation. Of the 11 harnesses that claim crash protection, only seven passed the initial strength portion of the test and therefore qualified for the crash test evaluation.
The Sleepypod Clickit Utility was the top performer. The dog remained restrained during every test and was deemed to offer protection to not only the pet but to the passengers in the car.
The other dog safety harnesses that were crash tested—Klein Metal AllSafe, Cover Craft RuffRider Roadie, RC Pet Canine Friendly Crash Tested, Bergan Dog Auto Harness, Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength, and IMMI PetBuckle—did not perform as well. Some of the harnesses allowed the dog to launch off of the seat; others did not control the rotation of the dog. The worst products were labeled catastrophic failures, as they allowed the dog to become a projectile or be released from the restraint.
K9 Club is happy to announce that we are an approved Sleepypod retailer and carry a complete line of dog harnesses at our retail store located at 551 E. Maple Rd. in Troy, MI.