My two dogs go crazy for a ride in the car. All I have to do is jingle my keys, and they race to meet me at the door. If they could call shotgun, they would.
In the past, I’ve let them roam freely around the car and hang their heads out the windows, ears blowing in the breeze. But then I read that a 60-pound dog can become a 3,000-pound projectile in an automobile accident. We’ve used dog car seat belts ever since.
Riding in Cars with Dogs
A moving vehicle presents a host of dangers to unrestrained dogs. Enthusiastic dogs can leap out open windows; dogs who hang their heads out the window can be injured by external debris; airbags deployed in an accident can injure dogs sitting in the front seat; and as mentioned, a loose dog in the backseat during a collision can become a dangerous projectile.
It’s no fun pondering these frightening scenarios, especially when, for so many of our dogs, a ride in the car is a joyous occasion. But the simple precaution of a doggie seatbelt can keep your joy ride safe. You reach to fasten your own seatbelt every time you get in the car—why not do the same for your dog?
Dog Seat Belts = No Distractions
Dog seat belts help to prevent driver distraction. According to the U.S. government website for distracted driving, in 2012 approximately 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. Another study co-sponsored by AAA determined that over 60% of dog guardians engage in distracting behavior with their dogs in the car.
Whether you’re driving with your chihuahua in your lap, reaching back to prevent your poodle from jumping into the front seat, or gazing a little too long at your peacefully snoozing labrador in the rear view mirror, dog distractions can cause you to take your eyes off the road, and lead to serious accident and injury. Dog seat belts keep your pup in place, minimizing distraction so you can focus on the drive.
Choosing the Right Dog Car Seat Belts
An effective dog seat belt works much like the belt you buckle up yourself: it should maintain your dog’s stability in the car, and restrain her movement under duress. Unfortunately, there are not yet standard regulations and requirements for dog seat belts the way there are for human restraints. As a result, consumer reports and product tests are your best resources to select the right dog restraint for your ride. The Center for Pet Safety provides results from a 2013 test of dog seatbelts and harnesses, and they recommend the Sleepypod Clickit Utility Harness for its overall function and safety features.
On the Road Again
Some dogs find seatbelt harnesses uncomfortable at first, so you’ll want to introduce it gradually before taking it for a test ride. But before you know it, putting a seatbelt on your dog will become second nature, and you and your road hound can hit the asphalt safely and distraction-free. Enjoy the ride!