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February 17, 2014
Pierson & Bergan Canine Car Harness

“I never try to get out of my dog seat belt. But that’s only because it looks so good on me.”

You want your best friend to ride safe in the car, but you’re worried he will try to get out of his dog car harness. Or you already bought one for him, and he DID get out of it. What is the point of your dog wearing one if he WON’T wear it? Fortunately, there are two things that can help.

Don’t Make it Tighter

Making the dog seat belt harness tighter may not be the answer for two reasons.
1. For some dogs, a tighter dog car harness might mean your pal tries harder to escape from it. And such a determined dog will either be able to get out of it, or hurt himself trying. Some harnesses are harder to get out of than others. The ClickIt Utility dog seat belt, for example, is more difficult to escape from. But before you try it, consider your pet’s personality. Is he going to struggle just a little and then give up? Or will he struggle and keep struggling until he either hurts himself, manages to escape, or chews through the straps in order to try to get out?

Maya ClickIt Utility Dog Seat Belt

The ClickIt is the safest dog car harness. One reason is┬ábecause it keeps Maya so restricted. She can lay down or sit, but she can’t stand up.

2) Second, consider how the safety belt in your car holds you in. It does lock into place in a car accident, but it isn’t tight to begin with. According to How Stuff Works the safety belt catches your inertia, spreads the force across your body so that it is not concentrated in one place, and it stretches a little so that “the stop isn’t quite so abrupt.”

If your pet’s harness is too tight, there is no opportunity for the straps to absorb the inertia. The straps are already tight on him, so a sudden stop will only cut into him more. If the straps are a little loose (but not too loose) then there is that split-second moment where your dog’s body slides into the harness, giving it the opportunity to stretch and absorb the pressure.

Put Bergan Canine Car Harness on My Dog

Make the dog seat belt harness snug, but not tight.

You want the harness to be snug, but you don’t want it so loose that your little pal flies out of it when you stop. But nor do you want it so tight that there is no give. So instead of tightening it, what can you do when he keeps getting out of his dog car harness?

1) Although a shorter tether on the dog seat belt is safer, you have to consider your pet’s personality. It is not going to do any good to have a more restrictive harness if your dog is just going to get out of it, right? So use a tether that is a little longer. Give your dog a little more room to move around. Have him wear a dog car harness that allows him to sit, lay down, or even stand so that he is more comfortable. A comfortable dog is not as likely to try to escape the safety device.

Gracie Wearing the Kurgo Dog Car Harness

For dogs that try to get out of their seat belt, consider one that allows them to sit, stand, or lay down.

2) Train your dog to wear the dog seat belt. This can take some time, but it can save your little pal’s life too. Have him wear it around the house and reward him whenever he ignores it. Play with him while he’s wearing it. Take him for a walk in it. Do fun activities together while he is wearing his harness and he will learn to be comfortable in it. And a comfortable dog is not as likely to try to get out of his dog car harness.

So if you’re frustrated because your dog keeps getting out of the device intended to protect him, a new ‘escape-proof’ dog car harness may not be the right answer. No harness is completely escape-proof. A new one with a longer tether may be a good temporary solution. But training him to wear a harness is the best and longest lasting way.

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4 Responses to “Help! My Dog Keeps Getting Out of His Dog Car Harness”

  1. Jodi:

    Great advice Dawn, I was thinking along the same lines, you can’t just grab a harness and snap your dog into a car and have everything be perfect. Delilah wears a harness sometimes when we walk or train, SO I think she would be more comfortable in the car than Sampson would. Plus she typically just lies down on long car rides. I think it will take some time for Sampson to get used to it, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

  2. Lindsay:

    Such helpful advice! The first thing most of us would think of would be to tighten the harness, but you’ve shown us why that’s probably not the best idea.

  3. Ann Staub:

    I never would have thought about this issue with dog seat harnesses before… I’m sure it happens all the time though. I’ve seen plenty of dogs escape from their collar in the past.

  4. Ruckus the Eskie:

    Ooo that’s true. I never thought this could happen. Escape artists!