Whether it’s crates, seat harnesses or car seats, the most important aspect of safety is control. Even if the car is not moving, being able to contain your dogs inside the car is an important piece of the pie. This is true whether you are going three blocks or three thousand miles.
For over 20 years my canine family has been traveling. Most of my dogs have peed in two oceans. I have driven with one dog, two dogs and three dogs, small dogs, big dogs, and medium size dogs. We’ve had cars, vans and SUVs. We’ve had dogs loose in the back, in crates, harnesses, seats, no seats, and a lot of training techniques trying to make them all work.
One statement on safety. A dog in a car unrestrained is a moving projectile of enormous force if your car is hit by another vehicle or you are forced to slam on your brakes. From an article in the AAA Newsroom: “An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path,” said Huebner-Davidson. See article…http://newsroom.aaa.com/2011/07/2011-kurgo-pet-surve/.
It looks great when I see a dog riding free with his head out of the window. It’s great for a moment, but besides the health risk to eyes and ears, the chances of that situation ending badly are scary. Even if the dog survives an accident, he’s now loose on the highway and there are cars and trucks and………..a whole other set of statistics begin.
Okay, enough of the scary stuff. Here are your options.
Crates are great if you have a van or SUV, and they are attached (or tightly bungee corded) to the car. The advantage to crates (on long trips) is you can use them for activities other than safety. You can use them for dispensing high value treats and for meals. You can have them rest in their crates while the car doors are open as you prepare lunch. A crate allows your dog some nice exercise with a pizzle stick, bully stick or frozen food dispensing toy. The crates keep the toys from falling, so your dog won’t break his neck trying to get it out from between the door and the seat. I prefer soft crates or plastic crates in the car. Metal crates can be an added danger in an accident.
Another safety option for cars, and now my choice in my SUV, is harnesses. There are many different brands of seat belt harnesses for dogs. Once you find the good quality reputable companies, it becomes a matter of comfort and budget. Using harnesses takes up less room than a crate. You can buckle up your pooch in the same space it takes for one human passenger, unless, of course, you have a 100 lb dog and then all bets are off. Never ever attach a seat belt to your dog’s collar, always use a harness.
For good quality harnesses:
The car seat on the right is the latest addition to our travels. Our Beagle was having some car issues so we tried different options for her. This car seat did the trick. She is able to see out the window, which she enjoys and most importantly, I think the bed type cushion makes her feel a little safer or a little more secure and she is not nearly as upset in the car. Her sister sits harnessed on the seat next to her.
No matter how safe your dogs are in their seat-belts or crates, it’s always good to teach them to “Wait” for permission to leave the car. My dogs know “Wait” and have a release word so I can leash them up without a struggle.
There are many safe options for your dog in the car and it’s important to find the right solution for your dog and also for the rest of the family, be they canine or human.