Driving around the city with your dogs is something most people do regularly. What dog owners often neglect is thinking about the possible distractions having their pup roam freely in the car can cause.
In fact, CarRentals recently ran a survey to uncover the dangerous driving habits of pet owners and the results were quite shocking.
The poll digs a little deeper to find out which safety precautions pet owners are taking while driving with their pets and the various distractions that can pose a threat to everyone’s safety –– including our furry friends.
With that in mind, we rounded up some of the survey’s most interesting findings, our list of best dog seat belts to keep them safe at all times, and tips for driving Fido.
6 Top-Rated Dog Seat Belts
- Kurgo Car Harness with Dog Seat Belt Tether (Our Top Pick)
- Vastar Adjustable Dog Seat Belt
- Slowton Dog Car Harness
- PetSafe Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
- Mighty Paw Safety Belt
- Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness
Survey’s Findings: Are you guilty of this?
By bringing awareness of many people’s dangerous driving habits driving with their dog, we hope to encourage a change in behavior among all of us proud dog owners.
Here’s what the survey uncovered:
- 47% of pet owners acknowledge it’s dangerous to drive with an unrestrained dog in the car, yet do it anyway.
- 52% of drivers have reached back to pet their dog.
- 23% of drivers use their hands or arms to hold their dog in place when braking.
- 19% of drivers use their hands or arms to prevent their dog from climbing into the front seat.
- 18% of drivers reach into the backseat to interact with their dog.
- 17% of drivers allow their dog to sit in their lap or hold their dog.
- 13% of drivers feed their dogs during the drive.
Below are just a few of the ways your pooch can distract you while driving. Recognize any of them?
What is a Dog Seat Belt and How Do They Work?
It’s true that driving around with Fido in the passenger seat can be dangerous and distracting. The solution that keeps everyone safe is a dog seat belt or dog car harness.
There are several styles on the market today, depending on what your dog needs and how much you want to spend. Installing a dog seat belt in your vehicle is simple and easy regardless of which style you end up selecting.
A dog seat belt or car harness is a form of restraint that keeps your pup from bouncing all over the car. This seat belt also keeps your dog from flying into the windshield if you have to stop short or get into a minor fender bender.
The right restraint should give them enough room to stand, sit, and lie down in the seat without allowing them to bounce all over the car. In essence, a dog seat belt is a very short leash designed to keep your pup in place so that you can focus on the road in front of you.
When you are shopping around for the best deal on a dog seatbelt, you need to keep in mind that there are several varieties to choose from. All of them can serve the same basic function of keeping your canine companion in his place during a car trip.
However, some of them will be easier to use than others. You must consider what your unique needs are in a dog seatbelt or car harness before making a purchase.
Keep in mind that a basic harness will still require the use of a tether. Many manufacturers sell their harnesses with one of these two basic styles of restraining leashes.
1. Basic Buckle Dog Tether
The most basic type of dog seat belt has a metal clip on one end that buckles into your car and a carabiner or similar clip on the other. This type of tether will click into the buckle of most standard size vehicles, but you should double-check the dimensions on your seatbelt buckle before making a purchase. The carabiner or other clip will attach to either a collar or a harness.
2. Loop Tether
Unlike the basic buckle dog tether, this loop tether will fit any vehicle. All you have to do is feed the seatbelt buckle through the loop at the end of the tether and then click it into the buckle like usual. At the opposite end of the tether will be a clip that you can attach to either a collar or a harness.
3. Car Harness
Just as with the tethers, there are many different types of harnesses that you can purchase for your furry friend. Look for harnesses with adjustable points so that you can ensure a perfect fit for Fido. This will keep him comfortable during the car ride and lessen the chances that he will chew on the fabric or straps that hold it in place.
You should look for harnesses with padded chest plates that help to comfortably distribute weight when you have to slam on the brakes or get into a car accident.
You want to get the very best for your canine companion. Many pet owners know they need to keep their dog restrained during car rides, but they feel overwhelmed by all of the products on the market. It is important to understand the difference between a dog car seat belt and a dog car harness.
The simplest form of a dog seat belt clicks into the buckle of your car and then attaches to the collar on your dog. These are inexpensive options that tether your dog to their spot.
They are designed to keep your dog from climbing all over the vehicle, but they do not offer much in terms of safety. Car accidents could cause harm to the dog with this type of restraint because it places all of the force around your dog’s neck.
Many pet owners prefer the dog car harness because it has proven to be a safer alternative in the event of an accident. The seatbelt restraint may click into the buckle, but it also attaches to a D-ring on the harness.
The car harness is created of some sort of fabric that wraps around your dog’s chest and typically has a padded chest plate. With this design, some of the force from a potential accident will be spread out evenly across the dog’s body and can prevent further injury.
The Best Seat Belts for Dogs
Not sure which seat belt is the right one for your dog? Here is a list of the best dog seat belts and harnesses to help you make an educated decision about what is best for your dog.
Kurgo Car Harness with Dog Seat Belt Tether
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Vastar Adjustable Pet Seat Belt Safety Leads
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SlowTon Dog Car Harness Plus Connector Strap
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PetSafe Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness
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Mighty Paw Safety Belt
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Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness
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Sleek and sturdy, this all-purpose dog car harness is just what you need to keep your beloved furry friend safe during your travels. The Kurgo car harness is crash-tested for dogs up to 75 pounds at the Calspan location in Buffalo, New York. This is the exact same facility that measures and administers child restraint systems and car seat performance tests for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The dog seat belt tether included with the harness is slightly different than your standard buckle clip. Instead, you feed the seat belt through the loop on the tether, buckle the seat belt, and then fasten the tether to the front-clip harness using the included carabiner.
If you were to be in an accident with your canine in the passenger seat, your pup will benefit from the padded chest plate. This can help to cushion the jolt of an accident and help to distribute their weight more comfortably.
This harness is available in four different colors with sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large. To ensure the perfect fit for your dog, it has five different adjustment points.
When not used for travel, the car safety harness can be used as a no-pull device that turns your dog back toward you whenever they reach the end of their leash. When purchased through an authorized dealer, this harness also includes a lifetime warranty.
- Crash-tested for dogs up to 75 pounds
- Padded chest plate
- Four different colors and five sizes
- Doubles as a front-clip, no-pull harness
- Lifetime warranty
- Slightly more expensive
Are you looking for something simple and basic that will keep your pup safe? The Vastar Dog Seat Belt safety leads are an affordable option with very few frills.
They are constructed from a tough nylon fabric with a flexible bungee cord. The buffer damping design is specifically made to protect your canine companion if you should have to slam on the brakes at a moment’s notice.
Unlike the Kurgo harness that tethers dogs via a loop around the seat belt, the Vastar model clicks directly into the seat belt buckle. Keep in mind that this is a two-centimeter clip so ensure that your buckle is compatible with this product prior to purchase. The buckle itself is made of strong zinc alloy for extra durability.
Your dog should be able to comfortably sit, stand, or lie down with this lead attached to them. There is an adjustable buckle on the strap that allows you to lengthen or shorten the lead as needed, depending on the size of your dog and how much freedom you allow them to have in your vehicle.
- Extremely affordable
- Convenient buckle action
- High-quality materials
- Not compatible with every vehicle
- Not crash-tested
Do you want to make a stylish statement with your safety gear? The SlowTon dog harness with the connector strap comes in seventeen different colors so that you can choose one that matches your dog’s personality and style. Each car harness is constructed of breathable mesh fabric with flannelette edges for your dog’s ultimate comfort.
The SlowTon product combines some of the best features of the Kurgo car harness and the Vastar safety leads. The overall design of the SlowTon harness distributes some of the pressure if you were to be in an accident or have to stop short. This design is intended to relieve some of the pressure on your dog compared to attaching a seat belt lead to a collar alone.
The harness is also designed to make it easier for owners to suit their dog up for a trip. There are two buckles on the chest piece so that the dog does not need to step into the harness. The first time you put it on, you may need to make some adjustments in a few areas. You can easily customize the fit to your dog with four adjustable buckles.
The tether itself is a flexible bungee cord that gives your dog just enough leeway to sit or lie down in the back seat comfortably. It clicks directly into your seatbelt buckle for quick and easy release.
In addition to tethering your dog in the car, the car safety harness is also appropriate for regular leash walking when you reach your destination.
- Seventeen colors and six different sizes
- Harness design that distributes pressure evenly
- Quick-release seat belt tether
- Multipurpose harness
- Not crash-tested
PetSafe has been a trusted household brand for your canine needs for decades. It makes sense that their Happy Ride Deluxe Car Safety Dog Harness would make it onto the ranking of the best car safety belts and harnesses.
Unlike some of their less expensive competitors, this harness is crash-test certified for the small, medium, and large dog sizes. An extra-large dog size is available but has not been proven to be crash-test certified.
Some dogs can easily overheat in the car so PetSafe constructed their harness out of a breathable material that will help them to feel a little cooler. The chest area is padded to help distribute weight and minimize the impact of having to stop short in your vehicle. Overall, your canine companion should feel comfortable nestled inside of this car safety harness.
Using a loop and carabiner clip, you can tether your dog to the seat belt in a number of locations. There are several different attachment points on the harness so that you can choose the one that works best for your dog.
Consider just how much room he will really need to sit, lie down, or stand while you are driving. Unlike the models that clip into your buckle, this loop and clip design ensures that the Happy Ride car harness is compatible with any vehicle.
One of the many benefits of opting for a major name brand like PetSafe is their commitment to quality. If you have any questions about their product or how it should fit, you deal with United States-based customer support.
- Crash-test certified in a DOT-approved facility for three sizes
- Static testing up to 3,000 pounds
- Breathable mesh harness with multiple tethering points
- Fits any vehicle
- Four sizes
- Fewer adjustment points on the harness to customize the fit
Simple to use and extremely durable, the Mighty Paw Safety Belt is a product that you can depend on to keep your dog safely secured in the backseat. Unlike many of the other products that clip into the buckle of your car, Mighty Paw attaches to the latch bar of your backseat. Every car has this specific area, so you can rest assured that it is compatible with your vehicle.
Attaching to this area of the car is ideal for dogs who have learned to step on the buckle in order to release their tether. It is virtually impossible for them to unhook this safety belt on their own.
The tether itself is made from high-quality weather-proof nylon that makes it difficult for your dog to chew through. The leash itself can be adjusted from 16 inches to 26 inches to give your dog more freedom as you see fit. It should be long enough to allow any dog to sit, stand, or lie down comfortably while the car is in motion.
The carabiner is constructed of extra-strong aviation aluminum with a maximum force tension of 400 kilograms. All of the hardware on this seat belt is constructed of high-quality metal so that you can rest assured that this dog seat belt will last for the long haul.
Every purchase has a 100 percent money-back guarantee, so you have absolutely no risk for trying this dog car seat belt.
- A dog cannot unbuckle the tether
- Strong material that is difficult to chew through
- Durable metal hardware
- Adjustable tether
- Can withstand up to 400 kilograms of force tension
- Money-back guarantee
- Not crash-tested
Last but not least, the Pawaboo Dog Safety Vest Harness is another affordable option that combines flair and function. It comes in nine assorted colors and four sizes so that you can find a style that works for your beloved furry friend.
The vest itself is made of oxford fabric and is fully polyester. While it may be lightweight, it is not quite as breathable as the mesh fabric on some of the other models listed here. The chest plate is padded to help with weight distribution in the event of an accident.
Owners will love how easy it is to put this car harness vest on their dogs. Even the wiggliest dog can be subdued long enough to fasten the two fast-release buckles, one on each side.
All you have to do is slip it over her head and adjust the straps to fit. When you head out to the car, the tether clips into the seat belt buckle and the stainless-steel hook clips to a D-ring on the back of the harness.
One of the reasons that pet owners love the Pawaboo car harness is because it attaches directly to the safety buckle in your car. However, there is a second method if the clip does not fit into the buckle.
It also has the same loop system where you feed the seatbelt through the loop and then click the seatbelt in place as usual. As a result, you can use this car harness and tether with virtually any vehicle.
- Compatible with every vehicle
- Available in nine colors and four sizes
- Quick and easy to put on
- Not crash-test certified
- Not made of breathable mesh fabric
Currently, only a handful of states enforce laws about restraining your pet. These include Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
A handful of other states have laws in the process of being approved but whether you live in a state that enforces seat belts or not, it’s always safer for everyone to keep your dog safely restrained while on the road.
Shopping for the right restraint for your pup can feel confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding which features truly matter can help you to whittle down your options to a more reasonable selection.
Here are a few of the most important features you should consider when shopping for your dog car seat belt.
First and foremost, you want to ensure that your dog is firm and safely attached to your car. Keep in mind that not all clips will be compatible with every vehicle. You also have to consider whether the leash and the hook that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness will be strong enough to withstand the force of a potential accident.
If any part of the system is prone to breakage under extreme force, your dog could end up seriously injured. Make sure to only purchase products with good quality metal clips and strong attachments that are suitable for the weight of your pup.
Length of the Seat Belt
The whole idea behind the seat belt is that it should prevent your pet from moving around the car at will and keep them in place during braking and accidents. If the tether is too long, your dog may have too much freedom. This could be distracting and dangerous for you as the driver.
On the other hand, an attachment that is too short may keep your dog cooped up in an uncomfortable position on a long car ride. To ensure the appropriate length, you may want to look for a dog seat belt that has an adjustable leash so that you can set the perfect length based on the size of your dog and the layout of your vehicle.
Your dog is more likely to wear a harness that fits them comfortably. If the fabric is comfortable, they are less likely to chew through the attachments in an attempt to get it off.
Look for car harnesses that are constructed from heavy-duty fabrics that are relatively chew-proof but still breathable. Many of the more popular harnesses are constructed of a breathable mesh that keeps your dog from getting overheated but still holds up well under stress.
You may also want to look for a harness with a padded chest plate. This important aspect of the car harness allows the pressure to be distributed more evenly and more comfortably across their body if you have to stop short.
Last but not least, a comfortable harness should also have multiple adjustment points to ensure the perfect fit for your furry friend. It may require a little more time to initially set up a harness with five different adjustment points, but it can make a major difference in your dog’s comfort moving forward.
Crash Test Ratings
Some companies go a step beyond the basic design of a comfortable car harness and lead attachment. Many of the most highly-rated products have also undergone crash test safety rating tests to prove that they are safe for your dog.
If you really want to keep your canine’s best interests in mind, make sure to prioritize these proven harnesses.
To make sure you and your dog is safe while on the road, here’s a list of helpful tips:
- If your dog is just getting used to their car restraint, practice on a short drive down the block.
- Never let your dog sit in your lap or climb in the front seat.
- Don’t take your hands off the wheel to reach back and pet your dog.
- If your dog needs assistance, pull over at a safe location.
- Avoid giving your pet food or treats while driving to prevent sickness.
- In the event of an accident, many dogs escape through broken windows. Having the proper identification on your dog can help you get them back to safety.
- Look into getting the right safety restraint or seat belt for your dog.
We hope these tips and roundup of sturdy dog seat belts will help you take the proper safety precautions while driving with your dog. If you have a large dog, you can also check out our list of best dog travel crates to keep them safe and comfortable.[wpdatatable id=69]
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.