In determining the best way to protect your best pal when he rides in the car consider your personal preferences, your dog’s behavior, and the type of vehicle you have (a car or an SUV?)….
Continue reading this article about crash tested pet travel products on PetAutoSafety.
Welcome to the pros and cons series from #DogTravelAdvisor. Each post in the series will highlight a specific pet travel product and tell you more beyond what the manufacturer wants you to know. This post is about the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat. Learn the pros and cons of this product, which we have discovered through personal experience and from the experience of other people who have purchased it. By sharing both the positives and the drawbacks of this pet travel product, we hope you are able to make an informed decision in deciding whether it is right for you and your dog.
Keeps Dogs in Seat
Before giving you the cons, we will share the benefits that the manufacturer touts and which we agree with. The first benefit is a safety benefit. Have you ever had to stop suddenly only to have your dog lose his balance and slip to the floor? The bigger a dog is, the more likely this is to happen. The Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat keeps this from happening. Some dog seat belts are deemed not as safe by the Center for Pet Safety because even though a dog is wearing one, he launches off the seat in a crash simulation. This flat seat prevents that, thereby increasing the safety of the harness.
Gives More Room
I personally have two big dogs, Maya and Pierson. When they ride in the car on long road trips, trying to stay in the narrow seat for several hours can be very uncomfortable. The flat seat gives them more room to stretch out.
With that being said, the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat is sturdy enough to hold my two big dogs. In fact, the manufacturer claims it can hold up to 200 pounds.
Easy to Assemble
The flat seat consists of two big pieces, a few nuts and bolts, and two straps to hang from the headrest. The nuts and bolts are big enough to put together by hand, so no tools are needed. Simply put the two pieces together, bring the front seats forward a bit, place the flat seat in the car, bring the seats back, then use the straps to secure the flat seat to the front seat head rests.
Thin and Flat
This seat extender is different from two other seat extenders we carry in that it is thin and almost completely flat. The Pet Deck is thicker and this can cause gaps in some places. The BackSeat Bridge is just as thin, but it doesn’t go all the way to the way front to back. This means there is a ridge, or lip, that can make it uncomfortable for big dogs to stretch out.
Dogs are not the only thing that can benefit from this flat seat. You can stack your groceries on it, luggage, or anything else that you need to put in the back seat of your car.
Two big sheets are what cover the seat and the floor. Since these sheets are strong enough to hold two dogs, they also have a little weight to them. But you don’t have to be a weightlifter to lift them. As a woman who can’t do a single push-up, I have no problem taking the seat in and out of my car. But it might be an issue for some.
Won’t Work in Some Cars
Although the flat seat can fit most cars, there are exceptions. Consider the side wells of the seats. If they stick out too much or won’t allow the square corners of the seat to go between them, then the flat seat may not fit properly. Also, consider if there is a raised center console in the back seat. And finally, consider whether you want the square corner of the flat seat to go between the leather seats.
Despite the flatness of this product, there are still gaps. There is a square cutout so that the flat seat can still be installed if the front center console sticks out in the back (notice it to the right of Pierson in the very top image). Because this square cutout is one size, there can be a gap for dog paws to step through. If your dog is not harnessed and if he likes to step on the center console, this gap can be a problem. There can also be gaps on either side of the flat seat, depending on the size of your car. Most seat extenders will have gaps, but measure your car and compare it to the flat seat dimensions to see if the gaps will be a problem for you and your dog.
Not Crash Tested
This product is not crash tested. It is quite possible that it will break in a car accident.
The flat seat is adjustable from front to back, but only in three stages. It is not adjustable from side to side. Measure and compare to make sure it will fit in your car.
For me, the pros of the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat outweigh the cons. I don’t have leather seats and it fits my Ford Contour and Toyota Camry just fine. The gaps are minimal, except by the front console. But since my dogs wear seat belts, it is not a problem. Even though they wear seat belts, they still need room to stretch out on those long road trips. Whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for you depends on your vehicle, your dog or dogs, and your situation. If you have any questions about the flat seat, ask our #DogTravelAdvisor by contacting us through our About Us page link on the right or by commenting below.
In 2013, the nonprofit organization, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), tested a number of dog car harness brands. The brand they found to be the safest was the ClickIt brand. The AllSafe brand was not far behind. There was only one issue that kept it from ranking the best. The tether allowed the dog to launch off the seat in the crash test simulation.
Even though the AllSafe uses a short 6″ tether, it was still too long for optimum safety. So, AllSafe recommends the following tactic to make the harness safer:
By putting the seat belt of the car through the back like this, you can limit your dog’s movement in the event of an auto accident. Limiting movement helps keep your dog in the seat and from getting tossed side-to-side.
Keep in mind, however, that limiting your dog’s movement might also make him uncomfortable. In being uncomfortable, he may try to chew the harness off or wiggle out of it. For this reason, AllSafe still includes the short 6″ tether with their product. If you need a longer tether, you can get this as well. Come visit us at Pet Auto Safety for the AllSafe dog car harness and for the longer tether.
Fun and/or Instructional Videos on Pet Travel Products
Although we’ve slowed down a bit on the video-making projects, we have no plans to stop. We want to make more. We want to make better videos that show how to use the dog car harnesses, how to install other pet travel products, and other instructional videos. We also want to do a couple more funny videos of Maya and Pierson riding in the car. Is there a video you’d like to see us make? Is there a product you’d like to see more of? Do you have any funny ideas for Maya and Pierson’s Car Talk Adventures?
One great thing about running Pet Auto Safety is that we get to try out all the products. Our recent acquisition is the AllSafe dog seat belt. And the lucky dog that gets to try it out is our lovely Labrador Retriever, Maya.
Maya presents a number of challenges when it comes to dog car harnesses because she doesn’t sit still. She’s got to stand up and stick her little brown nose wherever she can get it, sometimes in my ear. She also has a deep narrow chest, which occasionally makes harnesses pull to the side rather than hug the chest. Did we have these issues with the AllSafe? Let’s see.
First, though, let me give you my first impression of the AllSafe dog car harness. When I pulled it out of the box, I was absolutely amazed. The quality is fantastic. It is obviously very well made and highly durable. The straps are thick and sewn together very well. There are no plastic pieces on this seat belt, just strong webbing and very strong steel parts.
PUTTING ON/TAKING OFF
The AllSafe dog car harness does not clip on like most other dog seat belts do. As demonstrated in the below video, you have to pull your dog’s legs through the leg holes. Maya makes it look easy, but I can see how this might be a challenge for other dogs that are not yet used wearing a car harness. Because of my experience and because of Maya’s cooperation, I personally found the AllSafe very easy to put on.
SECURING IN THE CAR
It was very simple to secure my dog Maya in the car with her AllSafe harness. There was a bit of a misunderstanding with the instructions. Apparently, my box had the wrong instructions. But when I notified the company located here in the US, they walked me through the right way. Their customer service was fantastic.
Maya wore her harness perfectly. She could still stand up, sit, or lie down, but not enough that she could stick her wet brown nose into my ear. This restriction is a good thing because it means if we are in a car accident, Maya will not be jerked around. A longer tether means more freedom and comfort, but it also means less security. I find the ClickIt the most restrictive and the Bergan the least. On the other hand, the Bergan is more comfortable and the ClickIt is the least. The AllSafe is right in between both.
The chest piece of the AllSafe still went off to the side if Maya tried to move around. But that is Maya’s fault because she won’t be still. If Pierson were to wear this harness, he would not have any trouble at all because he stays in one spot.
The AllSafe is very comparable to the ClickIt Utility in both quality and safety. The ClickIt Utility had a better safety rating from the Center for Pet Safety, but the AllSafe rated nearly as well. One drawback of the ClickIt Utility is it has three connection points that can make it more of a hassle to secure your dog in the car. It can also be more difficult to adjust for sizing. (Both these features of the ClickIt Utility are changing, though, with the release of the ClickIt Sport before the end of this year.) The AllSafe allows for the harness to be used as a walking harness much easier than the ClickIt Utility.
Overall, I am very pleased with the AllSafe. It is more expensive than most brands, but it is worth every penny.
Pierson has actually been using the Ruff Rider Roadie for some time. He actually has several dog car harness brands to choose from, but I’ve been using the Roadie almost exclusively since that report from the Center for Pet Safety came out in October 2013. Besides safety, there are a lot of other reasons why I love this brand. So let me share them with you, along with some opposing features.
The Center for Pet Safety did an independent crash test study of various dog seat belt brands in October 2013, and I’m happy to say that the Roadie did very well. They determined the ClickIt Utility to be the safest and the Roadie and the AllSafe followed 2nd. This information makes me feel better about my boy Pierson’s safety.
One thing about the safest ClickIt Utility brand is that it is also the most restrictive. You dog can’t stand up in it and will have a difficult time moving from the sitting to the laying down position. This restriction is a good thing in safety, but let’s face it, many dogs do not like to be that restricted. One great thing about the Ruff Rider Roadie is that it can allow your dog a little more freedom to move. Its tether has two setting, one that makes the tether very short and one that makes it a little longer. With the longer option, your dog can sit, stand, and lay down with ease. Pierson is good about staying in one place in the car, so I generally use the shorter tether option.
MADE IN USA
Nope, the ClickIt Utility is not made in the USA. Neither is the AllSafe. But the Ruff Rider Roadie dog seat belt is made right here in the United States. And it has been around and continuously improving for 15 years.
FITS ALL SIZES
Pierson is a medium sized dog, so he doesn’t have a problem in sizing. But you should know the ClickIt and the AllSafe are not made to fit very small dogs. The Roadie, on the other hand, does fit little pets.
The Roadie pet car harness is very well made. The material is a very strong webbing, yet not bulky. The size adjusting buckle is plastic, but this buckle is not part of what keeps the harness on your dog. If it breaks, your dog will still be in his harness.
The Roadie does not have a padded chest piece like the ClickIt or AllSafe. But the cross piece is designed to lie low on your dog’s chest so that it doesn’t choke him. Pierson likes it because it’s comfortable without being bulky.
Because the Ruff Rider Roadie pet seat belt isn’t put on with clasps, it can be a bit difficult to put on. Luckily, my Pierson is very cooperative. He’s been wearing dog car harnesses since the day I got him, so he allows me to slip the Roadie on and put each of his legs in the leg holes. If you have a dog that doesn’t hold still well or is likely to resist, then you may have a challenge in putting this one on.
Because the Roadie doesn’t have clasps and because it has to be adjusted loose enough to put on your dog, it fits a little loose. This is actually a good thing. You don’t want a harness that is too tight. If you have a dog that keeps trying to get out of his dog seat belt, a tighter fit is not going to stop him from trying. The tighter it is, the more likely he is to hurt himself when he tries to get out of it. With training, a dog is more likely to get used to a loosely comfortable harness than a tight fitting one.
The Ruff Rider Roadie has seven different sizes. This makes it a bit difficult in determining which size to get your dog. At the same time, because it has so many different sizes, it is likely to fit many more dog breeds than other brands.
When shopping for the right pet car harness for you and your dog, look at safety, but also be aware of the possible cons. The Ruff Rider Roadie is almost perfect because it has such a high safety rating yet only a few cons. It is also very competitively priced. I love the Roadie. And although Pierson is not thrilled with the process of me putting it on him, he is very comfortable in it once it is on.
“Help! I just bought this dog seat belt so that I can help keep my pet safe in the car, but he keeps trying to chew it off. What do I do?”
This happens all the time. We spend lots of money to do what is best and our dogs want nothing to do with it. Unless your dog is already used to wearing a harness, adaptation may take a little time. Training your dog to get used to a pet car harness is the best long-term solution. But what if you’re going on a trip soon and you don’t have the time? Try spraying the pet car harness with a chew deterrent spray. One of the best chew deterrent sprays on the market is Grannick’s Bitter Apple. This stuff has been around for over 50 years (developed in 1960). And in most cases, it really works.
There are some instances where dogs actually seem to like the taste, but the average success is 4 out of 5 stars. If you need to keep your dog in his harness so that he is safe, why not try using the Grannick’s Bitter Apple? It is non-toxic and the chances are your dog will hate it more than he hates his safety belt.
If time really is of the essence, a homemade chew deterrent may also work. Try mixing peppermint extract and water in a spray bottle. Or cayenne pepper and water, apple cider vinegar in water, or lemon juice in water. The Daily Puppy has some great recipes.
Remember, results will vary. Long term training is the best solution, but not always feasible if you’re pressed for time. Shorten the time by combining Bitter Apple with training. Simply follow our training tips for getting your dog used to a pet safety belt, but spray the harness with a chew deterrent.
Have you had to use a chew deterrent for your dog? If so, what kind? Did it work?
Welcome to the Barks & Bytes blog hop where the greatest pet bloggers join together and talk about their favorite topic – yep, you guessed it, pets. In my case, it’s dogs and dog safety.
In last week’s Bark & Bytes post I shared a cute video of my dogs Maya and Pierson in the car. Thank you so much Jodi and Linda for liking it and sharing it. It has had almost 50 views in just one week! And thank you, Suan and the gang with Life with Dogs and Cats for stopping by for a visit and commenting. You’re right, Lilah and Pierson do look a lot alike. They both have the same cute button noses, pierson eyes, fluffy coat and paws, and fluffy butt and tail. 🙂
PET SUMMER SAFETY
Now on to the important safety stuff. Folks, I’ve been reading a lot of articles today about people leaving their dogs in their car while they run errands! This scares me so much!!! It’s hot out there!!!!! If you haven’t already, please stop by and like this Facebook page for Heat Can Kill Your Pet. Just Think First. It’s not my page, but a page I follow and they have a lot of great information about how dangerous and yet still common this practice is. They also have tips on what you can do about it, like calling the police, asking the store owner to announce it, leaving a flyer from My Dog is Cool, and/or by staying with the car until authorities or the owner arrives. I would not recommend confronting the owner yourself. People get very defensive, especially when that person is not an authority figure. They will only rationalize their actions and not really hear what you’re saying. So let a police officer or an animal control officer handle it. If the dog is truly having a heat emergency, be very careful should you decide to break the car window. It is illegal. I believe there is only one state that says it is legal if you are saving someone or an animal in distress.
We have a new article writer for Pet Auto Safety. Her name is Patrice. I may have introduced her before. She has written a great article on this and other pet summer safety topics titled, 9 Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Travel with Your Dog. Please go check it out and share. She’s a great writer, isn’t she?
Here are some pet summer safety tips from Pet360:
NEW PET TRAVEL PRODUCT
Shortly after writing last week’s Barks & Bytes, I had a woman named Deb call me about her new product, the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat. I’ve talked many times about the Backseat Bridge and the new Pet Dek, but the pet travel flat seat, I think, is even better. It is completely flat and there are far fewer gaps! I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but will be getting it by the end of this week or early next. Deb is an entrepreneur who designed the pet travel flat seat herself. She is working with her family in order to try to get it on the market. So even if this isn’t something you need, share it with your friends! I love helping out the individual business owner, especially when they have such great pet products.
Thanks again for stopping by the Barks & Bytes blog hop! If you still don’t have your pet fix, check out the posts form these other great bloggers:
Welcome to Barks & Bytes where we share recent activities at Pet Auto Safety.com. Barks & Bytes is hosted by our favorite dog bloggers, Jodi with Heart Like a Dog and Linda with 2 Brown Dawgs. Be sure to check them out, but not before you see what’s been going on with us!
NEW PET TRAVEL VIDEO
I’ve finally finished the dog video I started several months ago of Maya and Pierson in the car. This is the 3rd video (episode 2) of a series of videos. I’ve only had a little practice editing videos so I’m not sure this one is very good, but we are our own worst critics. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll really like it. And if you do, please hit the like button on YouTube and leave a comment. 🙂
NEW PET TRAVEL PRODUCTS
As you saw from our June Barks & Bytes, we’ve been in the process of adding several new products to our Pet Auto Safety site. One that we mentioned but didn’t have available yet is our dog backpacks. Check out our Outdoor Dog Gear page and see what we have.
The Rein Coat
I also mentioned the Rein Coat. I’m sorry to say that we don’t have it available on our site yet. I’ve asked if I could sell them and the company said yes, but they haven’t gotten back with me with more information yet. I think they forgot about me.
One of my greatest fans for PetAutoSafety saw our FaceBook post about the Rein Coat and asked if her dog Lily could wear it along with her dog car harness. Lily has terrible anxiety in the car and her mom, whose name is Lee, was hoping the Rein Coat could help. Unfortunately, the folks at Rein Coat said that although their product has been known to help dogs with anxiety in the car, it was not designed to be used with a dog seat belt.
The Pet Dek
We wrote a more detailed post about Maya and Pierson’s experience with the Pet Dek, so be sure to check out the July 10th post. As always, we share both the pros and cons of the products we sell so that you have as much information as possible, should you decide to purchase.
We did not talk about the Car-Go in our previous Barks & Bytes post because we didn’t know about it then. But I saw a great review from Oz the Terrier and so called the company that makes the Car-Go to see if they would let me sell it on Pet Auto Safety. I’m happy to say that they said yes! And so the Car-Go Single and the Car-Go Double is now available.
Pet First Aid Kits
This is another new product we didn’t mention on our last post but have added. This pet first aid kit is the most comprehensive first aid kit for dogs that I’ve ever seen. It has been put together by an entrepreneur named Denise. Denise is an amazing woman who teaches pet first aid and CPR and is also an author of a number of books, including Pet First Aid for Kids!
Dog Travel Bowls & Bottles
Yesterday we added two new travel products related to water. The cuee blue paw print water bottle with rollerball tip and the Bottle ‘n Bowl bag with collapsible dog bowl. These two items can be found on our pet travel bowls page.
BELLA & THE KURGO GO-TECH DOG CAR HARNESS
Bella’s mom purchased the Kurgo Go-Tech dog seat belt last year and had some concerns about the looped tether. She said Bella was awfully uncomfortable with the way the looped tether worked so I sent her a Bergan tether. To be honest, I am not a fan of Kurgo’s looped tethers either. In fact, when Maya wore her Kurgo Go-Tech harness, I immediately replaced the looped tether with the Bergan one. It is believed that the more restrictive a dog car harness is, the safer it is for the dog. This may be so, because if you stop suddenly or swerve, you don’t want your dog to get tossed around. But this sort of restriction can be very uncomfortable for dogs. Safety is important, but we need to consider the comfort of our best friend as well.
NEW PET TRAVEL ARTICLES
Last month I mentioned Patrice, our new writer for Pet Auto Safety. She has created another new great article for us that we posted on July 8th. I also have another great article written by Lindsay with That Mutt, which posted on July 15th. Be sure to check out these great pet safety articles and leave us a comment. 🙂
That’s all the Barks & Bytes I have for you this week. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Our friend Lindsay with Ace at ThatMutt.com wrote a wonderful article that we’ve found to be very helpful:
My 70-pound Lab mix Ace loves riding in the car because he associates it with fun places like the dog beach.
While I’m glad he’s eager to go places, one problem with his excitement is his tendency to barge right out of the car as soon as I open the back passenger door.
I’ve learned to anticipate and manage this problem by giving a firm “stay!” command or by physically blocking him. He always wears his leash in the car too, which I can easily grab.
But lately I’ve realized I need to step up my dog’s training (and safety) a bit more. I want my dog to automatically wait patiently in the car until I give him a command to jump out. (I plan to use “OK!”)
I don’t want to tell him “stay” first. I want “stay” to be implied. Even if the door is wide open and my back is turned, I want my dog to learn to wait for my command before jumping out.
There are just too many scenarios where barging out the door could be a small or serious problem.
-Ace could barge right into traffic, even if he’s on a leash. We live in a heavily populated area with a lot of cars.
–He could push the door too hard, causing it to door ding another parked car.
–He could knock or pull someone over, trip someone with his leash or give someone rope burn.
–If we’re ever in a bad car accident, it may not be safe for him to bolt out as soon as a responder opens the door.
–Every now and then, my husband and I will pick up a friend or family member who will ride in the back next to Ace. I can’t have Ace bolting out just because someone else opens the door! (One time he bolted out the door to follow my parents when we dropped them off at their hotel.)
So, you get the point. There are a lot of scenarios where it’s dangerous for a dog to automatically jump out of the car.
Dog seatbelts to safely keep the dog in the car
Before I get to some training tips, an obvious safety tool here would be a dog seat belt.
Not only is a dog seatbelt a safety tool for when the car is moving, but now you can see why a dog seatbelt will safely keep the dog in place even when the car is parked.
Of course, some dogs will still try to bolt out as soon as you unbuckle their seatbelts. But at least the belt will hold your dog in place while you get situated. Read more about dog seatbelts here.
How to train your dog not to jump out of the car as soon as you open the door
The following are my own training tips based on how I plan to train my treat-motivated dog. There are many ways to train a dog, so please share your own suggestions in the comments.
I am training my dog to automatically wait in the car until I say “OK.”
*I drive a four-door car. Ace always sits on the back seat directly behind the driver without a seatbelt.
Here’s what I plan to do:
When I stop the car, I will have a handful of small, highly valued treats ready such as pieces of hot dogs. I will get out, walk to the back door and open it part way, so Ace can’t jump out. Without saying anything, I will pop several yummy treats into Ace’s mouth, being careful to stand close so he won’t jump out. “Gooood boooy.”
If your dog is wearing a seatbelt, this is where I recommend you unclip it – after you have already given him some treats for remaining still. Then, unbuckle the seatbelt and pop some additional treats in his mouth. You want him to learn that the “click” sound of the belt does not signal it’s OK to jump out.
After 30 seconds or so, I will say “OK” and let Ace jump out. I will stop giving him treats at that point because the treats are to reward him when he’s waiting in the car. I will repeat this several times in all sorts of areas, every time we go somewhere.
If he happens to try to jump out before I give the “OK” I will calmly block him with my body and calmly say “no.”
Increasing the challenge
In safe areas that are not too “exciting” I will do the same as above, but I will gradually open the door wider and wider as Ace’s training progresses, over several days and weeks. I will also make a point to stand a bit further from Ace and to wait longer before giving the “OK” to jump out. Giving him treats while he waits in the car will still be important at this point.
With time, I will give the treats less often, especially in “easy” areas where he is not as excited. When we go to the most “exciting” areas like the dog beach I will still have to go back to standing closer to him while he’s still learning.
Other safety tips
-Obviously I’ll have to be aware of the temperature in the car. A parked car is hot, even for a few minutes, and even with the door open. Training sessions will have to be fairly short.
–Once your dog jumps out of the car, you may want to also teach him to automatically sit at your side (rather than straining at the leash like a maniac).
–If your dog does manage to jump out before you give permission, just calmly say “no” and put him back in. Stay a little closer the next time so he doesn’t have the chance to “fail” again.
Of course, there are many other ways you could train your dog to wait in the car, and we are lucky to have so many training tools to help us. For example, perhaps a kennel will make it easier for your dog to remain calm and safe until you’re ready to let him out.
And now I want to hear from you!
If your dog already knows to wait patiently in the car, how did you train him to do so?