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How Dog Seat Belts or Crates Provide Travel Safety

Updated on January 5, 2016

There are three major reasons why dogs should wear a car harness or ride in a crate when they travel. The first reason is for their safety. The second reason is for your safety. Ant the third reason is for the safety of the other passengers and possibly other people on the road.

When I go to a place where I don't have to leave my dogs in the car or places where dogs are allowed, Sephi and Maya must go with me – and they must wear their car harnesses. Drive-through banks or fast food places, parks, pet stores, or visits to a friend's house are great places to take my best girls. And as my best girls, their safety is important to me. Pet travel safety should be important to everyone. It's not just for your dog's safety, but your own safety and the safety of others as well.

My dog Maya always wears the AllSafe in the Car


Your Dog's Safety

Something as simple as a fast stop or swerving to avoid an accident can toss your dog around and cause him injury. If your dog is hanging out the window, the injuries could be worse. He could get tossed out or get choked on the window sill.

Your dog may enjoy hanging his head out the window or he may hate wearing his seat belt, but as responsible caretakers we must make small sacrifices. Your furry best friend is still going to love you and love life. Most dogs can get used to wearing a car harness or riding in a crate fairly quickly. They may even come to enjoy their safety devices like my dogs do.

Emma in her pet car seat


Driver's Safety

If you think cell phones are a distraction, a dog can be even more so. Without their restraints, Sephi and Maya would be very distracting. Sephi would have her front paws on the center console and be panting in my ear. Maya would be jumping back and forth between the front and back seats. Restraining in the back seat with a seat belt or in the cargo area with a crate, your best friend is confined safety in the back seat.

Pet Car Seats are another option, but must be used in conjunction with a crash tested car harness. Some of these seats allow dogs to ride in the front, but beware of the air bags. Airbags are not safe for your best friend.

Pierson Wearing the Ruff Rider Roadie


Passenger Safety

Imagine if you and a passenger were in a major wreck where your dog was sitting unrestrained in the back seat. No matter how small or how big the dog is, the dog could fly forward with tremendous impact. And if the dog is directly behind you or the passenger, imagine what that dog could do to you. The impact could kill not only the dog, but you or the passenger as well. With crash tested pet travel safety devices such as car harnesses or crates, your dog is safety restrained and won't become a dangerous projectile.

What You Need To Know About Crash Testing

Just because a product claims to be crash tested doesn't mean it is safe. Back in 2011, The Center for Pet Safety debunked all but a few car harness brands claims of being crash worthy. The problem with their #1 pick is that it is so restrictive that dogs are not comfortable wearing it and so owners are tempted to let their best friend wear it incorrectly, defeating the purpose. My personal favorite seat belt brands are AllSafe and Ruff Rider. They did not get the top pick because they allowed the dog too much movement in a simulated crash. But they did not break at all. Yes, your dog may get tossed more in a crash, but he will be more comfortable wearing something that isn't too confining and therefore won't try to wiggle or chew out of it. Short tether options are available for both these brands so that movement can be limited.

The Most Thoroughly Crash Tested Variocage


The Center for Pet Safety also conducted an independent crash test study on crates. This particular study is greatly flawed because of the cargo connections they used in the study. Their cargo connections were extremely strong. Real vehicles today are not this strong at all. Most can't hold more than fifteen pounds. So their conclusion that the best crates are the ones where the straps didn't break makes no sense since all cargo connections will break in realistic situations. The best crate, in my opinion, is the Variocage. This is because it is the only one that has been crash tested in multiple crash scenarios (Center for Pet Safety only did a frontal test), and because it is the only one that has a built in crumple zone, which is a safety feature that works in tandem with the safety design of the vehicle.

A pet barrier can keep your dog in the back seat

Other Pet Travel Products

If your dog won't wear a harness or won't ride in a crate, there are other options. These options do not provide as much safety, but something is better than nothing. Consider a barrier to keep your dog in the back. Barriers can be metal, cloth, or netting. There is a product called the K-9 Car Fence. It claims one type of crash testing, but be sure to research this more to confirm. The Sleepypod pet carrier is crash tested, but is only for very small animals. And there is another product called the Pet Ego Pet Tube, and a similar product called the Car-Go from Sturdi Products, which help to keep pets from being a distraction. Kennel straps may help keep a carrier in place so it doesn't become a projectile, but most plastic, wire, or soft-sided carriers do not hold up in a crash.


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    • dogbox profile image

      Josh Tucker 

      6 years ago from Woodson, IL 62695

      I would also recommend considering an Owens Dog Box

      you can find them here:

    • Ausemade profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      Just discovered this hub, good information, as I have just done my hub about travelling with your family... my dogs are part of my family... :)

    • Chasing Riley profile image

      Chasing Riley 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      This is very helpful information. I like all the options you covered. Great job!

    • sampupmoores profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice - well done!

    • Nature by Dawn profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Ross 

      7 years ago

      TheEpicJourney, it sounds like you are doing the right thing to keep your dog secure. The harness you are using may even be as good as other dog seat belts out there. But keep in mind that weight is added with inertia. You may have heard that someone holding a baby in their arms will not be able to hold the baby in a car accident - even if that person holding the baby was a body builder. Check the harness your dog is wearing and take note of the material used and how it is sewn together. If you feel that it is strong enough, then it most likely will be fine.

    • TheEpicJourney profile image


      7 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

      Welcome to hubpages! Love this hub Nature by Dawn! It gives a great amount of info in a nice summarized package, and on such an important topic. I can't imagine having 2 dogs in car unrestrained that would be chaos, lol. I know the few times I've done it with Zoe were enough to convince Jenna and me something needed to be done.

      I drive a Jeep wrangler so it's doubly essential I have a restraint when I have the top down with her in it. I actually don't have an official, or specifically designed dog safety belt though. I bought a $100 harnass/pack for Zoe so I don't really got the cash to buy another restraint just for the car. The harnass has a really nice handle designed for lifting and supporting the entire weight of the dog so i figure its pretty secure. I pull the seat belt through the handle and then buckle it in, and this keeps her good and secure. There is enough give that she is able to lay down when in the back seat, but only just enough. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that? Are there specific things a good harnass lacks that a dog seat belt has been designed to have? Should I make it a priority to get one of those as well? Or do you think the system I use now is sufficient?

    • Juliette Morgan profile image

      Juliette Morgan 

      7 years ago

      Good information, more dog owners need to be aware of the dangers of travelling with a dog loose in the car. I know you have crash-tested dog seat belts in the US, here in the UK they are only just now available and cost 3 times as much here.

    • rockdresses profile image


      7 years ago from Turkey

      Very useful tips! Thank you!

    • G.L.A. profile image

      Geri Anderson 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Great Hub! Very Informative, and good advice. Thanks!


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