This is the criteria we used to review the harnesses. We organized it from the most important to least important.
Center for Pet Safety Certification: Has the CPS tested and approved this harness?
Safety: Is this harness tested for crashes and does it actually hold up?
Material: What is it made out of and will it hold up to stress?
Design: How does this go on your dog and is it easy to use?
Points of Adjustment: Is it easy to adjust and how much adjustment can I do?
Leash Attachment: How many leash attachments are on it and what types?
Color Choices: What are the color choices and styles to pick from?
Challenges of Car Harnesses:
When thinking about car harnesses for their pup, many owners are thinking only about keeping their dog safe during a crash. While it’s fantastic to be on the lookout for your little guy, it’s just as important to remember you need to be kept safe from your dog in a crash–just like with any other objects in the car. Did you know that a 10 lb dog becomes a 500 lb force in a 50mph collision? Or that a 60 lb dog can become a 3000 lb force in a collision?
With this in mind, it’s very important that when we consider any car harness, we make sure that it will at least keeping your pup in place. We turned to the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and found some rather shocking discoveries.
In 2013, the CPS conducted a series of tests on harness that claimed to be “safe and crash tested.” Turns out that almost every single harness for dogs failed.
For the strength test, the researchers measured the quality of the harness material and determined if it would break under the force of an average car crash. Many harnesses broke here and were deemed “catastrophic failures.”
For the crash test, the researchers made three “dog dummies” of different weights (10 lb, 35 lb, and 60 lb) and put them through the same test used for evaluating seatbelts on automobiles. Only one harness succeed and was overall deemed safe: SleepyPod ClickIt.
Many of the harness we review here are too new to have been tested by the CPS in the 2013 study, but the companies claim that they’ve been crash tested nonetheless. Ultimately, it’s hard to evaluate what this means, as there are no regulations for dog car harnesses. Regardless, we will be mark if each harness claims to be crash tested and/or has a certification from the CPS.
Using The Car Harness
Most car harnesses are like your typical harness and sport a leash attachment. These leash attachments are most likely going to be back-clips or a front-clip. (Keep in mind that these harness aren’t meant to be used as walking harnesses in the long run.)
What makes them different than your typical harness is that there’s a place for you to slide the seat belt through. When you have the seatbelt adjusted onto the harness, it restricts the movement of your dog to keep them in their seat.
Some dogs really don’t like to be confined but all dogs like to be safe, so it’s worth figuring out a way to make it work for you. So, we recommend some introductory training sessions in which you get your dog acclimated to the new harness. For example, let them try on the harness without getting into a car for the first few times and (ideally) let them sniff around inside the car without actually going anywhere or securing them.
Keeping Distractions At Bay
It’s no surprise that distractions while driving are the #1 cause of accidents on the road–which is a huge reason why car harnesses for your dog are so important. The last thing you need while driving is having your four-legged friend distracting you!
If you aren’t looking for something that necessarily rates well in a collision, or if your budget is really limited, there are some cheaper options that will keep your pup in his or her seat, so you can keep your attention 100% on the road.
Road trips with your pup can be an absolute blast, and having the ability to drive your dog in a car can make life a lot easier. No matter what your plans are, it is imperative that you make sure you and your dog are safe on the road.
Whether you’re looking for a harness that will keep you free from four-legged distractions, or something more rugged that can protect your dog in a collision, there’s something out there for every owner. Let us know which one you picked, and be safe out there!