You would never drive or let any of your passengers be in your car without a seat belt, but your dog may ride unsecured all the time. In fact, many people allow their dogs to do whatever they want in the car: dogs often wander the backseat or even lean halfway out the window. If you stop to think about this, you’ll realise it carries a huge risk. You wouldn’t let any other family member behave like this in the car — it’s time to start thinking differently about how you travel with your dog.
Benefits of Using a Dog Car Harness
You can’t use a seat belt designed for humans on your dog — he’ll either wriggle himself free or be very uncomfortable and it won’t provide much protection. The safest way to have your dog in your car is to use some kind of harness, belt, or dog car seat. You should look for one designed specifically to have your dog in your car, as this will be stronger than the one you use to walk him.
Preventing Injuries and Accidents
The importance of a dog car harness boils down to two main factors: it prevents injuries to your dog and reduces distractions for you.
Securing Your Dog
A dog car harness restrains your pet for the duration of the journey, which prevents him from moving around the vehicle. This means there’s no risk of him falling from the seat or colliding with something. Although there are many different designs, they all attach to the seat belt buckle.
Reducing Distracted Driving
When your dog is confined to one place in the car, you’re less likely to be distracted. In contrast, if he’s pacing the backseat, blocking your view of mirrors or windows, barking at other dogs he sees outside, or asking for affection, he may take your attention away from the road. Reducing distractions makes driving safer for you, your pet, and anyone else in the car.
Ensuring Your Dog’s Safety
To understand the importance of a dog car harness, you need to be aware of the potential dangers of allowing your dog to ride unsecured in your vehicle.
Minimise the Risk of Escape
A harness will keep your dog restrained until you’ve parked or arrived somewhere it’s safe to let him out. An excited dog could even be tempted to jump out of an open window while the car is still moving, which could result in serious or even fatal injuries.
Protection During Sudden Stops or Collisions
No one ever expects to be in an accident, but even the most conscientious drivers may have to stop suddenly or even suffer a collision due to other people driving recklessly. Your dog will be much safer in such situations if he is secured.
Legal and Safety Considerations
A final reason you should use a dog car harness is there are laws and regulations around restraining dogs in vehicles. A harness will help you stay compliant.
State and Local Laws
Throughout Australia, drivers can face fines or even jail time if their dogs suffer an injury as a result of being unrestrained. Some states also require dogs to be restrained at all times. These states include:
- New South Wales — Drivers may also face a fine or gain demerit points if they lose control of their vehicles because their pets distract them.
- Western Australia — In addition, dogs must not be on the driver’s lap or front passenger seat.
- Tasmania — Dogs also must not sit on the driver’s lap.
Risks of Not Using a Dog Car Harness
You should always use a dog harness when you take your dog in the car. Forgoing a harness just once puts you at risk of fines, an accident if you become distracted, and injuries to your pet.
Choosing the Right Dog Car Harness
The numerous options on the market can make it difficult to know what to choose. You need to know what to look for to ensure you choose a solution that fits your dog and maximises safety. Whatever you pick, it’s important to choose a dog harness designed for use in the car — regular dog leashes and dog collars are insufficient.
Size and Fit
It’s crucial to choose a dog car harness that is suitable for the size and breed of your dog. To determine the right size, you’ll need to measure your dog around his neck at the spot where he wears a collar and the widest part of his chest. It also helps to weigh your dog to ensure he’s within the correct range for a particular harness.
In terms of safety features, the most important consideration is that the dog seat belt is crash tested. In addition, look out for features like durable materials, reinforced stitching, and reliable attachment points.
Ease of Use
Lastly, the dog car harness needs to be easy to put on and take off. There may be a slight learning curve for both you and your dog as you get used to putting on your dog harness — the important thing is to find one that is not too complicated. Since an easy-to-use harness will be more convenient, it will encourage you to use it every time your dog travels in the car. Plus, you’ll reduce stress for your dog if the harness is comfortable both to put on and to wear.
A dog car harness is essential for trips of any length with your dog. You’ll make the ride safer for both of you — by preventing your dog from moving and potentially injuring himself (especially if you stop suddenly or suffer a collision) and by avoiding distractions for the driver. To gain these benefits, it’s crucial to find a solution that fits your dog, has all the necessary safety features, and is easy to use. You can find just such a dog seat belt at Dog Friendly Co. Featuring an anti-shock bungee (to prevent strain upon sudden braking or impact) and heavy duty clips, our dog seat belt is safe, comfortable, and convenient — just clip it to your dog’s regular harness or collar. Plus, the adjustable length means it fits any size of dog. Shop now.