Car Safety Tips for Dog Owners

Posted by Jessica Roberts

For dogs, riding in the car isn’t merely a way of getting from point A to point B. There’s also the thrill of the journey. Just the jingle of the car keys is enough to send many four-legged travel enthusiasts into a state of tail-wagging excitement. But any time you bring Fido on a road trip, it’s important to ensure he’s safe and comfortable. Some cars even come equipped with cool features just for canines! When it comes to car safety gear for pets, there’s a wide range of styles and options, so it can be confusing to find what you need. We’ve compiled some of the best pet safety products for the road, including how they work and what type of pup they are suited for, so you can choose the right one for your “pawssenger.”

Dog Harness Seat Belt

Seated, belted and safe. Photo by @zucchinisherfluffen

How It Works:

Human seat belts were not made for canines but can be used to secure your pup in the car when paired with a specially designed harness. A dog harness seat belt includes a tether that attaches to your vehicle’s existing seatbelt. While it can also be worn for walks at your final destination, it's made to be significantly stronger than your typical day-to-day harness. The system will keep your dog from wandering around the vehicle while you’re driving, and will also prevent him from careening off the seat in the event of a sudden stop.

Best Suited for:

This product is ideal for well-behaved dogs who don’t mind sitting still in the vehicle and aren’t known to escape their harnesses or chew on the seatbelt. Most safety harness seat belts are only rated for dogs up to 90 pounds.

The Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness is available on Amazon.

Zipline Harness Seat Belt Tether

“Let’s go zip-lining!” Photo by @kurgo

How It Works:

An auto zipline for dogs uses a standard dog harness seatbelt, but it is attached to a short length of leash. This essentially creates a small dog run in the back of your vehicle, keeping Fido from jumping to the front of the car and greatly reducing instances of distracted driving while allowing him a controlled range of movement. The harness is connected to the zipline, which is attached to any two fixed points in the vehicle.

Best Suited for:

A zipline system is a great option for restless dogs who prefer to be able to move about in the back of the vehicle. It’s also good for pups who tend to get carsick, as being able to look out of the window can help relieve motion sickness.

The Kurgo Direct to Seatbelt Tether for Dogs is available on Amazon.

Car Seat Pet Carrier

“Carry me.” Photo by @champagne_poodle

How It Works:

A pet carrier designed for the car will keep smaller dogs safe inside a vehicle, giving them their own space and keeping them contained. This type of carrier is buckled into the car seat and includes an interior tether that can be connected to a harness to keep canines securely inside. Once you reach your final destination, the lightweight carrier includes handles so you can bring your pup along without having to take her out.

Best Suited for:

Car seat pet carriers are approved for small pets up to 20 lbs. They’re a safe and reliable means to transport dogs who don’t like riding in cars, as it keeps them from running around the vehicle. Having a designated space can also help ease anxiety.

Pet Gear Signature Pet Car Seat & Carrier is available with free shipping on Chewy.

Pet Hammock

“Look, Ma, no fur on your seats!” Photo by @kurgo

How It Works:

A back seat hammock gives Fido a comfortable spot to call his own in the car. While it doesn’t keep him restrained, it creates a cozy place to lay down and provides a slight barrier between the front and back seats. Many hammocks can also be used in conjunction with dog harness seat belts and auto ziplines for safety. As an added bonus, a hammock keeps your car much cleaner after outdoor adventuring and protects your seats from scratches and fur. Pet hammocks are also easy to install and remove for cleaning.

Best Suited for:

Hammocks will work for dogs who are content to lay in the backseat and will not try to jump into the driver’s lap. They can also be used in the third row or cargo area of a vehicle if the backseat is occupied and can accommodate canines of all sizes.

Kurgo Dog Hammock Car Seat Cover for Pets is available on Amazon.

Small Dog Booster Seat

“Now you get to smell my doggy breath while I look out the window!” Photo by @spud_thefrenchbulldog

How It Works:

Smaller dogs will feel safe and secure in a cozy booster seat. These are attached to the car seat and include a tether that latches onto a safety harness to keep pups restrained. Some boosters are designed to hang on the back of the seat or are elevated, providing cruising canines with an advantageous viewpoint for looking out the window.

Best Suited for:

Little dogs who enjoy the car and love the view from the window will rejoice to have a comfy seat to themselves. Some booster seats are designed with multiple tethers to accommodate more than one pup.

The Kurgo Rover Heather Booster Dog Car Seat is available at Petco.

Travel Crate

”Riding in the car is so cozy.” Photo by Erin

How It Works:

A crate can be a protective and cozy place for your dog to travel in if it’s properly secured in the car. Whether you choose a collapsible or soft-sided crate designed specifically for travel, or just bring Fido’s usual crate from home, position it as close to the center of the vehicle as possible for safety.

Best Suited for:

If your pooch feels settled in a crate at home but experiences anxiety when traveling in the car, setting up a comfy place for him in a familiar setting will help ease his nerves.

The Etna Pop-Open Single Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog Crate is available on Chewy.

Cargo Area Pet Barrier

“Make this car go!” Photo by Chewy

How It Works:

If the cargo area of your car is where you prefer your dogs to ride, consider getting a guard to keep them from climbing over the seats. A good cargo area barrier for pets will allow you to see through the rear window of the car and not impede your view. These partitions can be made of a heavy-duty netting material or metal bars, but in order to be safe, they must be securely and correctly installed.

Best Suited for:

This setup works well for pups who prefer to be able to see and move around in the car, and for those traveling with multiple dogs.

The PetSafe Deluxe Happy Ride Dog Barrier is available on Chewy.

Impact-Safe Travel Crate

Safe and cozy. Photo by @malinoisloki

How It Works:

Built to protect both humans and canines using energy-absorbing materials and intelligent design, a crash-tested impact-safe travel crate is the very top of the line when it comes to dog car safety. These travel crates fit most SUVs, hatchbacks, station wagons, vans, and minivans, but are only designed for the cargo area; they will not fit in the backseat.

Best Suited for:

This is the highest-rated safety system for dog travel in vehicles and will protect passengers on two legs and four in the event of an accident. Despite the higher price tag, it's a smart investment for those who frequently travel with their pups in the car.

The MIM Variocage Crash Tested Dog Travel Crate is available on Amazon.

What pet safety gear do you use in your car? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by @mydoghikes.