Dog in the CarCredit: Robert KraftYou wouldn’t think of traveling with a toddler without a car seat, so why let your dog roam loose in the cabin of your vehicle where he can potentially distract you from driving?

When you are driving, you may be distracted by a dog roaming around the cabin of your car. This can lead to a fender-bender or worse. Should an accident occur, an unsecured dog has little chance of surviving even a low-speed accident compared to a canine in a safety harness. Additionally, in an accident you may become injured should your unsecured pet hit you.

In a car, securing a dog by the collar should never be an option. Fortunately, the pet industry has developed several types of harnesses that clip right to a seatbelt. These harnesses combine the best safety features with comfort for your dog.

Small Dog Harnesses and Car Seats

All dogs love to see out the window. Unfortunately, smaller dogs have to overcome their own stature to get a look around. For these dogs, there are several car seats on the market that combine booster seat features with safety harnesses.

These dog car seats look like an enclosed pet carrier with padded sides. They also have an open top so that dogs can see out. While riding in the booster seat a dog wears a comfortable, padded harness that provides limited mobility while keeping him or her secure against sudden stops. The carrier clips right to the car’s front or back seat to further anchor the perch.  Pet owners who do not wish to buy a booster seat may simply purchase a dog harness for their smaller pet.

Large Dog Harnesses

Booster seats are typically only manufactured for small or medium dogs. Pet owners who travel with larger breeds may select a dog’s safety harness to secure their dog while traveling. These harnesses typically have adjustable straps for a secure, comfortable fit around the dog’s shoulder and chest area. A second set of straps secures your dog under the front legs and around the rib cage. Dog seat belt systems typically clip to the seat belt receptacle or seat belt loop.

In addition to harnesses, some larger pet owners can buy dog hammocks and padded coverings to use with dog harnesses. These items  protect your car’s upholstery while keeping a large dog confined to its seat.

Selecting A Seat Belt System

When choosing a canine vehicle restraint system, you should always look one that has been crash tested and certified. The harness should fit the dog as snugly as a seatbelt would fit you, and the straps must be wide enough to distribute the dog’s weight evenly. If you are ordering your harness online, you may have to check the fit and return an unsuitable harness. Fortunately many online pet supply companies offer return shipping options. You can also add to your dog's comfort in a harness by combining it with other pet accessories designed to make a dog's travel easier.

Although it may seem like a hassle to try and then return several restraint systems, finding the right pet restraint system that makes both you and your dog happy will be worth your efforts, particularly when you take your first trip and arrive with a happy dog.