Dogs are NOT super beings. They do not possess the power to vaporize into thin air during accidents and come back intact and uninjured- and so are you! For sure, your dog may survive such a circumstance, but he may not UNLESS… you choose the right weapon. And by weapon, we mean a full harness dog seat belt in a car! A full harness dog seatbelt is a must! So, buckle up before we drive thru this weapon we call Dog seatbelt In A Car & What To Look For!
Why Does Your Dog Need One
Because driving without a dog seat belt is DANGEROUS. An observational study done by Volvo and The Harris Poll found that unsafe driving behaviors more than doubled due to unrestrained dogs. Unrestrained dogs stuck their heads outside the car and sat on the driver’s lap.
These behaviors may look cute and may be a friendship goal. But, such behaviors, based on the same study, distracted the drivers more than double than those riding with restrained dogs. Unrestrained dog behaviors like jumping and roaming around caused the drivers to glance away from the road.
Additionally, the study found that unrestrained dogs caused high levels of stress on both the driver and the dog. Heart rates increased up to 7 beats per minute faster and were only reduced when dogs were safely secured to their seats.
Road trips with your dog should be fun and should remind you of the good things, not so stressful that it makes your heart race and induces high stress levels.
Are Dog Seatbelts Mandatory?
A few countries like UK, Australia, and some states in the US have enacted laws which prohibits unrestrained or unsecured dogs in a vehicle. Penalties can range from large fines to jail time, in serious cases. The laws and penalties vary from country to country, but generally the law regarding unrestrained dogs in vehicles include some or several of the following:
- Having a dog on the back of a moving truck is illegal. If there’s no other transportation option, dog owners must secure their dogs in a crate inside a truck box.
- Putting a dog inside a closed trunk whether the vehicle is moving or not is illegal.
- A dog sitting on the driver’s lap is illegal.
- Leading a dog outside of a moving vehicle is illegal.
How Does Dog Seatbelt Work?
Dog seat belts have two key parts: a safety belt and a harness. The belt attaches the dog’s harness to the car’s seat belt (clip-in) or headrest (loop strap). The harness usually comes with a padded chest strap to provide additional support and comfort. A good quality harness must reduce your dog’s range of motion but should allow your dog to lay down or sit up.
If your dog can still move back and forth and side to side, your dog seat belt is not working properly. The harness should only be loose when putting it on your dog, but once it’s on, it should be snug fit. You can check if the harness fits snugly if you can fit your two fingers between your dog and the harness.
Types of Dog Seat Belts
There are manufacturers that offer full harness dog seatbelts- with a belt and a harness. If you already have a good quality harness, you can purchase the leash attachment separately. Generally, the following are the most commonly available in the market:
This is the most secure type of seat belt. The strap of the harness keeps your dog in place through the clip attachment which connects the harness directly to the buckle of the car’s seat belt.
Harness with a leash attachment restrains your dog from jumping and roaming inside the car. Usually, the chest strap has pads to provide additional protection and safety. The only drawback is it takes a bit more time to put on your dog and remove.
Leash Attachment: Clip-In
Clip-in is the most simple and most common safety restraining leash. It keeps your dog in place by connecting dog’s harness/ collar directly to the existing seat belt receiver. Typically, clip-in features a swivel for additional comfort and additional range of motion. It is adjustable but still will keep your dog from falling off the edge of the car’s seat.
Leash Attachment: Loop Strap
This is another type of safety restraint leash. Like Clip-in, it clips directly to your dog’s collar or harness. But, instead of a clip-in that buckles to the existing seat belt receiver, it has a loop at the other end which loops around the head rest.
Now that you have an idea about the common types of dog seat belt available in the market, it’s time to learn about..
Dog Seatbelt In A Car: What To Look For
A good quality harness & belt
A full harness dog seat belt has two key parts: a safety belt & a harness. There are manufacturers that offer full harness dog seat belts. Some only include one part which is quite convenient if you already have one of the two.
When looking for a dog seat belt, choose the one that is built on safety and comfort. A good quality full harness seat belt is lightweight with an adjustable attachment leash that can be inserted and clipped directly into the car seat mechanism.
There are multiple leash attachment types available that you can choose from: clip, latch bar and tether. Each one is made for a specific vehicle type. Choose a universal option if available.
Clip attachments are simple, easy to install and attaches directly into the car seat bolt. Latch attachments are secure and connects to the hidden latch between the seat cushions in the back seat. Tether attachments are secure but only suitable for seats with headrests. If you want speed and convenience, go for the clip leash attachment.
Center for pet safety (CSP) certified
Not all dog seat belts are CSP certified, unlike human seatbelts which are strictly regulated. CSP certified means that the dog seat belt has been tested for safety through doggie crash dummies and passed the CSP safety standards. Usually, models that are CSP certified have CSP seal. Look for a model that has this seal.
Made from Nylon or Polyester
Dog seat belts are usually made from Nylon or Polyester. Both materials are durable and and breathable. Also, they are good insulators and will keep your dog warm in winter and cold weathers.
Moreover, they’re chew-proof and can withstand your dog’s chewing and scratching if they’re high quality! If your dog suffers with compulsive scratching and chewing, look for a dog seat model with reinforced stitching on both harness and belt.
The length of time of installation depends on the leash attachment type. Dog seat models with clip attachments are the easiest to install. They will fit right into your vehicle’s seat bolt. Dog seat belts with latch attachments are the most secure, however they take longer to install.
You will need to connect it to the the latch hidden between your seat cushions. If you regularly switch vehicles, opt for a model with universal clip attachment. Leash attachment is also great but less secure than the other types.
A good quality seatbelt is relative as it will actually depend on your dog’s breed and size. Dog seat belts have different sizes and lengths. Usually, manufacturers provides information regarding the recommended size for a specific breed and age. To keep your dog safe and comfortable, choose a model that is the right size for your dog. And by right size, we mean a close-fitting and comfortable dog seat belt.
Some dog seat belts are versatile. Their harness, particularly, can be used with a leash for walking and exercising. This costs extra money but the versatility is worth it if you do not have a good quality harness.
This is a great feature if you have a puppy and you want something that can be used until he becomes an adult- and huge. For your dog’s safety, look for a dog seatbelt that is adjustable but not long enough for your dog to reach and fall off the edge of the car’s seat.
Easy to clean
To avoid a stinky dog seat belt, look for a dog belt that is easy to clean and washable. Dogs love to roam and roll around, and oftentimes, they prefer those dirty muddy spots!
Full harness seat belts with latch or tether attachments are the most expensive ones with price ranging between $35 and $100. The cheap ones may cost as little as $5 and may only include one key part, usually just a dog seat belt.
Other Dog Car Safety Tips
Full harness dog belt will keep your dog safe but following these safety tips will keep him safer.
- Do a few short drives around to prepare your dog and prevent surprises.
- Don’t allow your dog to stick his head outside the car.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car.
- Feed your dog a light meal before taking off.
- Regulate your dog’s food and water consumption if he’s not accustomed to riding in a car or long rides.
- Stop when feeding your dog.
- Pack a travel kit with all your dog’s essentials.
- Make your dog wear a microchip or a GPS dog collar.
- Pet proof your car before heading out.
- Provide ample fresh drinking water for your dog.
To sum up, dog seat belt is essential for preventing distractions and unsafe driving, managing the forces of impact and keeping your dog secured post-crash. Only few states and countries have laws restraining dogs in vehicles and penalties can range from fine to jail time. Even so, we think that all pet owners must get their dogs a full harness dog seat belt and it must be the best one out there!
Again, the CSP seal should be the first thing that you have too consider when looking for a dog seat belt in a car. This guarantees that it passed all the CSP safety standards. Additionally, check the manufacturers size and breed recommendations if it’s available otherwise look for one that is comfortable but snug fit. And last but not the least, for your safety, fasten your seat belt all the time when driving!