The Ways To Restrain Your Pup For Optimal Dog Vehicle Safety
In our previous article, we discussed a few reasons why it’s so important to keep your dog restrained when you’re taking them with you. First of all, dogs can be a big distraction if they’re constantly hopping from the back to the front, and they’ll often get on people’s laps and block their view. Usually, the bigger the dog, the bigger the distraction; but smaller dogs can go so far as to get under legs and disrupt the normal working of the gas and brake pedals. Second, we talked about how everything, not just dogs, becomes a missile during a sudden stop, posing a danger to everyone in the vehicle. Of course, the dog itself is also put into danger, and many dogs are injured in accidents that barely affect their human friends who have seatbelts on. Finally, we discussed the chance that your dog might hop out a window if it’s down and they aren’t restrained. While you might think your dog would never do such a thing, there’s no way to be sure.
While we were talking about why it’s so important to keep your dog restrained when they’re riding with you in a car, we didn’t talk much about how you should do it. Here are the most common methods for keeping you and your dog safe in a vehicle.
Many companies make barriers that cover the space between the two front seats and prevent your dog from hopping over the center console. These usually attached to the poles of the headrest in some way and might even be attached to something under the seats. They can be a bit awkward to install, so once it’s in you’ll probably want to leave it in for a while
While these barriers are very good at preventing dogs from hopping into the front seat, they don’t do much to prevent them from hurtling forward during a head-on crash. Sure, they’re certainly better than nothing, but we don’t like how they won’t protect a dog during anything more than a fender bender.
As you might guess, harnesses are one of the best dog car travel accessories when you’re looking for pet car safety. They serve two excellent purposes. First, they prevent a dog from hopping into the front seat and distracting the driver. Second, they will actively secure a dog to the seat to ensure that they don’t fly forward and suffer severe injuries.
Our favorite harnesses are chest harnesses that attach to two separate points on your pup. (Using only one point will jerk the pup sideways and fling them in the event of an accident.) While the two-point harness is more restrictive to the dog during travel, it is certainly safer because it’s not whipping them around.
Which types of harness bug us? Ones that attach to the dog’s collar. There’s a good reason that seatbelts go across human sternums; sternums are strong. Now imagine seat belts were actually neck belts; that’s what you’re doing when you click a car harness onto a dogs collar. It’s essentially a noose. If you’re going to attach your dog to part of the car, we suggest a strap that attaches to a chest harness. Make sure you’re using one that’s the right size for your dog so that they don’t slip out.
Some companies make seats for smaller dogs, essentially soft carriers that will secure to the seatbelt or baby seat anchors. These can be good options for dogs, as it allows them to feel secure behind a mesh window and will stay closed during a crash. While they might be thrown around a little, the soft sides will protect them fairly well even during a rollover.
Are there any negatives? The only one we can really think of is that the dog isn’t able to enjoy the thrills that come with riding in a car. They can’t look out the windows or enjoy the breeze quite a much. But if you’re heading to a dog park, they’ll be able to get out soon enough.
Until recently, the most common way for people to transport pets was in a standard hard carrier, the same kind that many pets sleep in. These types of crates are excellent options for transporting animals around and keep them from moving around the vehicle too much. During a “standard” crash, the dog's momentum is arrested earlier than if they were flying through the vehicle. This protects any humans who might be in front of them in the cabin. Unfortunately, dogs in carriers will still suffer in the event of a rollover.
The real problem with carriers is that the carrier itself can become the projectile. That’s why it’s important to secure the carriers as tightly as possible. Most carriers will have a place to attach straps so that you can make sure it moves as little as possible in the event of a car crash.
Finally, carriers can be limited due to their size. If you have a big dog you’ll have to have a big vehicle to put these crates in. While smaller ones might fit in the back seat of a car, larger ones are doing to need an SUV or van.
Nets are great...until they’re not.
If you’re not familiar, nets are most often used in the back of vans, SUVs, station wagons, and crossovers that have two sets of seats and then a large open space at the back. The net usually goes across the rear two seats and separates the rest of the cabin from the cargo area at the back. It’s really a good idea to keep nets up at all times even if you don’t have a pet at all; nets can prevent groceries, winter gear, bikes, and anything else from flying forward during a crash.
So they must be great for dogs too, right? The net is yielding yet strong, so it’s going to reduce the impact to the dog's body, right? Well, that’s true in the case of a head-on collision. Unfortunately, vehicles hit from the side are going to send the dog flying against the sides of the sub, and those hit from the back will send them into the tailgate or back glass. So while nets are excellent at keeping distractions down and protecting the human occupants, they’re not going to protect a dog from most injuries suffered during a crash.
The Big Picture
There’s one thing to remember when it comes to pet car safety. While we’re huge fans of keeping dogs properly and comfortably restrained while they ride in the car, keeping them safe in the heat is even more important. More dogs are killed every year from being left in a hot car than they are from being in car wrecks. That statistic is one reason we think that our dog monitoring system is so important. PuppComm is a dog car temperature monitor that allows you to leave your dog in the car for short periods of time and know the exact temperature of the car the entire time. Yes, it’s important to protect your dog when the car is moving, but it’s just as important to protect them when they’re alone in the car. Read more about PuppTech’s tech for dogs right here!