Are Dog Car Harnesses Really Safe?
Some of you may have seen the news about the crash test failure of seat belts for dogs. This test was a pilot test completed in 2011 by a nonprofit organization called the Center for Pet Safety (CPS). While the initial pilot test reveals some frightening results, you will be glad to know that a lot of wonderful things have happened and are happening as a result of the test completed by this great organization.
More on the 2011 Dog Seat Belt Pilot Test
This is the test that is making all the headlines and causing a lot of people question whether a seat belt for their dog is really a good idea. Let me make four quick points about this test before moving on to the wonderful news.
1. The pilot test only included four out of dozens of pet safety restraint brands. And CPS does not disclose what those brands were. The results of only four brands should not be applied to all brands.
2. The result of this pilot test has spurred a number of companies to make improvements on their seat belts for dogs.
3. Having your dog wear a pet safety belt still prevents driver distractions.
4. Since there is no standard for testing, reputable manufacturers have done their best to test with the current knowledge and resources available to them.
You can read more on our website at http://www.petautosafety.com/Are-Dog-Car-Harnesses-Safe.
Manufacturers of Dog Car Harnesses Make Improvements
***The following four companies are from the brands that we sell. These do not represent the four brands conducted by CPS in their pilot test.
Kurgo – Shortly after this study was published, Kurgo came out with new dog car harnesses with steel buckles instead of plastic. We also know, from speaking with the Kurgo company directly, that they are working closely with CPS. They not only give them their products for further testing, but they also consult with them on ways to make their products better. Having sold Kurgo products for some time, I know Kurgo is a very innovative company that is greatly concerned about quality. After all, they do have a lifetime guarantee on all their products.
Bergan – Bergan is another brand we sell, so we have also spoken with them about CPS. They met with them earlier this month and are excited about what CPS is doing. They, too, will be paying close attention to what this organization finds in their continued studies, and are open to making any improvements based on study results, if indeed improvements are needed.
Ruff Rider Roadie – Another great product we sell, Ruff Rider has recently published a video showing how their seat belts for dogs have passed the preliminary tests conducted by CPS. View it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7QflhiutYX8.
Pet Buckle – This company has long since been supported by another nonprofit organization, Bark BuckleUP (Ruff Rider has too). I called them and left a message for someone to call me back, but they have not returned my call yet.
It is our understanding that many companies are voluntarily working with CPS, not just the four listed above.
We have been keeping tabs on the Center for Pet Safety since before they released their initial pilot test results. From both a business standpoint and a personal view, we have been both frightened by and excited about what this nonprofit organization is doing. We were worried about the quality of products we sold, but we were also happy to see there is finally an organization that will make it easier for us to determine what safety standards are best for our furry friends. Knowing that Bergan, Kurgo, and Ruff Rider are working with CPS makes us very happy and we worry no more.
As both a business and a consumer, we are in full support of the Center for Pet Safety. We will continue to keep tabs on what this nonprofit organization is doing. Be assured that whatever the results are, we will react in a way that benefits you and your pet the most. After all, our dogs wear dog car harnesses too and we want nothing but the best for them.
Since we have now added the Ruff Rider Roadie and are phasing out the Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion brand dog seat belts, we are doing a new comparison. We now have four quality brands of dog car harnesses to choose from: Bergan, Kurgo Tru-Fit, Pet Buckle, and Roadie. Which one is best? They are all great, but each has a different style and feature. Compare them below:
Quality is hard to quantify. All of these four brands are well-made with strong materials. While some or all parts may have been constructed outside the United States, each of the companies that make these brands has strict quality control measures in place to ensure that each and every dog seat belt meets the same high standards.
Since each of these brands has been tested by a different strength and crash test specialist, it is difficult to determine which dog seat belt brand is the safest. We are confident in the safety and crash testing of each of these brands.
* Bergan was tested using the V9DT Pet Safety Durability standard.
* Kurgo Tru-Fit enhanced version was tested by the New Hampshire Materials Laboratory, Inc.
* Pet Buckle was tested by the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE).
* Roadie Ruff Rider was tested by both the Commercial Test Labs and the Allianz Insurance Crash Research Center.
Can dogs get out of them? Yes to all. A determined dog can get out of any pet travel harness. Keeping the seat belt harness too tight will not prevent this and will likely only make a dog more determined to get out of it. So when we look at how it fits, we are looking for any loose spots or any place that doesn’t adjust well.
* Bergan – Fits well and adjustable at both the neck and sides, although the chest piece may be a little long for some dogs.
* Kurgo Tru-Fit – Fits well and is adjustable at both the neck and sides.
* Pet Buckle – Fits well on small dogs or large dogs. It does not fit medium-sized dogs.
* Ruff Rider Roadie – Fits well, and all except the smaller sizes are adjustable at both the neck and sides.
How it Works
* Bergan – Uses an adjustable length tether with a carabiner clip to attach directly to the seat belt webbing of the car.
* Kurgo Tru-Fit – Uses a loop that the seat belt of the car goes through.
* Pet Buckle – Uses a loop tether for the seat belt of the car to go through. An adjustable length Kwik Connect tether may be included. This tether clips directly onto the latchbar between the seat cushions of vehicles 2001 and later.
* Ruff Rider Roadie – Uses a loop tether for the seat belt of the car to go through.
Ease of Use
In trying out each of these brands, we have not found one that is particularly easier to put on than the others. All take a little thought when putting them on for the first time, but once you get a hang of it all of them are easy.
* Bergan – Padded chest piece; since no loop tether, tangling is less likely.
* Kurgo Tru-Fit – Slightly padded; enhanced version has steel buckles; allows for harness to also be used as a walking harness.
* Pet Buckle – Metal buckles; if the Kwik-Connect tether is used, tangling is less likely.
* Ruff Rider Roadie – No plastic parts; tested to ensure there is no pressure on dog’s throat; pleated design on straps under dog’s legs to prevent irritation; tether and harness is one piece and tether can be used as a short walking leash.
Listed from least expensive to most expensive:
* Kurgo Tru-Fit
* Pet Buckle
* Roadie Ruff Rider
If you have any questions regarding any other differences in these pet travel harness brands, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have had the opportunity to use these on our own dogs, including my own: Sephi wore the Kurgo, Maya wears the Kurgo with a Bergan tether (to prevent tangling), and Pierson wears the Bergan. 🙂
It’s almost time for the new year – 2013! What is your New Year’s resolution? Me, I’m going to try to exercise more and eat healthier. I get plenty of walks with the dogs but I need to do more. My dogs Maya and Pierson want to learn more tricks. Pierson also wants to keep his teeth cleaner so that I will stop brushing them. So what is your New Year’s resolution?
How about keeping your pets safer in the car? Perhaps your dog is good in the car, like my Pierson. Pierson just sits there very quietly. But he is my baby boy and I want to keep him safe for in case I have to stop suddenly or swerve out of the way of something in the road or away from a crazy driver. Pierson wears his Bergan dog car harness and I have the back seat floor covered with the Kurgo Backseat Bridge.
Perhaps your dog is crazy in the car like my Labrador Maya. Maya LOVES to ride in the car. Even if I am taking her to the vet, she is super excited both on the ride there and on the ride back. She wears the Kurgo Tru-Fit smart dog seat belt but uses the Bergan replacement tether. I like the Bergan replacement tether because Maya likes to move around a lot and will get herself tangled in the loop tether provided with the Kurgo Tru-Fit.
If your dog is crazy in the car like my Maya, consider the Bergan brand dog car harness or even the Pet Buckle brand. For a small dog, make sure to get the one with the Kwik Connect tether included. Otherwise it uses a loop tether similar to the one from Kurgo. For a large dog, our large Pet Buckle travel kit comes with both the harness and the Kwik Connect tether.
If you don’t think your dog will tolerate a dog seat belt, consider a pet travel crate strapped in with the safety tested kennel restraints from Pet Buckle. Or use a pet car barrier. After all, our pets are family. We want to keep them safe like family. And pet travel safety supplies are easier than ever to get and most of them have been safety tested.
So practice pet travel safety and have a Happy New Year with your pets!
The Center for Pet Safety is an independent organization which has done testing on a few dog car harness brands. Their report has been completed. All four brands tested have failed to some degree. And three of the four brands tested claim to have already tested their dog car harnesses. Read more about this report HERE.
Unfortunately, the Center for Pet Safety is not allowed to tell us or any consumers what four brands were tested. However, Pet Buckle has reviewed the report and determined based on the designs shown in the four videos that their dog car harness was not one of the ones tested by the Center for Pet Safety. Kurgo responded with their own video which concludes that their harnesses do not break. Bergan has replied back and confirms their testing holds up to the V9DT standards. These standards indicate that the harnesses can withstand a lot of pounds of pressure (800lbs for a small, 1,500lbs for a medium, 2,500lbs for a large, and 4,400 for an extra large). All three of these companies are continuously testing their products and making improvements.
So if this test did not have favorable results for dog car harnesses, why should you buy one? For one, having some safety in place is better than none. Not only is it still possible that your pet has some form of protection in a car accident, but it may also keep your dog from escaping the car after a car accident. Most dogs will try to run away from what hurt them. And if they are unrestrained, they may escape out of a broken window. They could then get lost, hit by another vehicle, or die from the injuries because no one was able to get them medical attention.
At the very least, a dog car harness keeps your dog from being a distraction to the driver. At the most, it is possible that a dog car harness can protect your dog in minor collisions. Any protection has got to be better than none at all. Seat belts for people have been proven to save lives depending on the severity of the car accident. A seat belt for dos is likely to increase your pet’s survival as well. You can also consider keeping your pet safe in a secured pet crate instead of a dog car harness. We hope this report by the Center for Pet Safety inspires the makers of dog car harnesses to do more research.
The beautiful spring weather makes this time of year the perfect time to go on vacation. Your dogs would love to go too. But to bring the dogs, it means you will probably need to drive to your destination. Long car trips are not all that comfortable for people. We can’t lay down or stretch our legs. But you can help to make your dog comfortable on long car trips. Whether your vacation spot is a few hours away or several hours away, it is good to be prepared.
Keep Your Dog Cool
Spring does tend to get a little hot. Make sure your dog stays cool. Use the a/c in your car. Or put the windows down for a nice fresh breeze that dogs love. Be sure not to let him put his head out the window, though. This can be dangerous – especially in a sudden stop or emergency car maneuver. Road debris is another danger for a dog with his head out the window. The BreezeGuard window screens are great for allowing your window to be down and your dog to be safe.
Another way to cool your dog is with a Cool-It bandana. Or if it is really hot, you can wrap towels around ice packs for your dog to lie on. Make sure lying on the ice packs is an option. You don’t want to make your dog uncomfortable.
Be sure to bring plenty of water for your dog. Pet travel bowls are a great way to water him in the car or at any of the stops you make.
Give Your Dog Room to Stretch Out
If you have a big dog, the back seat of a car may not be that comfortable. Give him more room to stretch out with the Kurgo Backseat Bridge. This product covers the floor area of the back seat so that your dog has a full stretch of space and so that your dog doesn’t fly forward in a sudden stop. The Kurgo Backseat Bridge also has a flap that covers the center area between seats so that your dog can’t stand on the center console or bother the driver.
If you have an SUV and your plan on keeping your dog in the cargo area, consider the Snoozer cargo liner pet pad. This is especially helpful for older dogs who need a little extra cushioning for their joints.
As always, have your dog wear a canine seat belt or use another pet travel safety product. For the back of the SUV, a good canine seat belt is the one from Pet Buckle. Get the one with a Kwik-Connect Tether because it has a clip which allows you to clip it onto a metal ring, generally in the cargo areas of most SUVs. The Pet Buckle canine seat belt can also be used in the back seat of a car.
Make Frequent Stops
The best thing you can do for both you and your dog is to make frequent stops. Stretch your legs and let your dog stretch his too. You can do this at rest stops, gas stations, scenic routes and other points of interest. Keep your dog on a leash and make sure he is always wearing his collar with tags.
We make at least one really long road trip with our two big dogs every year. Frequent stops are a must. With our car and the two big dogs the Kurgo Backseat Bridge is perfect for us. Our dogs also wear the Bergan canine seat belt. They don’t have the most fun ever on these long trips, but they are comfortable. If they weren’t comfortable, they would have no problem expressing it and so could be a big distraction to whoever is driving. A comfortable dog on a road trip is much more pleasant for everyone.
Are you taking spring break with your dog? If so, don’t forget to keep him safe in the car when you travel. There are a lot of great pet travel products out there that your dog will love. And if he doesn’t love them, well, at least he will be safe.
BreezeGuard Window Screens
The weather is warm so roll down those windows and put your nose to the wind. But keep your pet safe too. The BreezeGuard window screens allow you to roll down the windows and let your dog get a whiff of the air, but they don’t let him put his head out the window. This keeps him in the car in the event of an emergency car maneuver or auto accident. And it also keeps your dog from being hurt by flying road debris. The BreezeGuard window screens are custom made to fit your vehicle and so can take 2-3 weeks to make. It may be too late to get them for spring break but I’m sure you will still be taking your dog for rides in the to the dog park this spring and summer.
Kurgo Backseat Bridge
This is one of my most favorite pet travel products, next to the dog car harness that is. Even though my dogs wear a seat belt for dogs, the tether on their harness is long enough that they can still move around. The Kurgo Backseat Bridge gives them that room by covering the floor of the car and, in a sense, extending the seat. This is an especially great product for long road trips. Plus, your dog won’t get thrown on the floor in a sudden stop.
Seat Belt for Dogs
Since seat belts can save people’s lives in a car accident, they can save your dog’s life too. Fortunately, there are a lot of seat belts for dogs out there on the market. Many have been tested for strength and durability but only one brand, Pet Buckle, has had them crash tested. But if your pet won’t wear a seat belt for dogs, there are other safety pet travel products you can use.
Pet Travel Crate with Kennel Restraints
If your dog doesn’t like to wear a dog car harness, secure them in a pet travel crate instead. Then secure the pet travel crate with kennel restraints. The kennel restraints from Pet Buckle are made from the same strong material as seat belt webbing. Plus they have been crash tested. They work by wrapping around the pet travel crate, then being secured with the seat belt system of your car.
Other Important Things to Remember for Your Pet
Don’t forget your pet’s food, water, leash, pet tags on your dog’s collar, poopie bags, and an emergency kit. It also helps to keep a copy of your pet’s vet records with you and an emergency phone number for your veterinarian. These may not be specifically pet travel products but they are important none-the-less.
Unfortunately, I don’t get a spring break. But the dogs and I will still be taking some trips on the road this spring and summer. Maya and Pierson wear a seat belt for dogs, we use the BreezeGuard window screens and Kurgo Backseat Bridge. What sort of pet travel products does your pet use? Where are you taking your dog for vacation?
(Special note on above photo: My dog Maya is wearing a sea belt for dogs in this photo, it is just difficult to see.)
There is no one company that has tested and rated all the dog car harness brands. Each company uses their own testers and testing methods. Since each company is different, all we can do as consumers is rate the brands we have tried and check out dog seat belt reviews from other purchasers. We here at PetAutoSafety.com have experience with four dog car harness brands and have compared them below.
Our rating is based on the chest padding of each dog seat belt and is listed from the best padded to the least.
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion padded styles (includes the plaid, Houndstooth, and Ride Right styles)
- Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Car Harness
- Pet Buckle
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion non-padded styles
Tether Tangling & Twisting
For dogs that like to move around a lot in the car, the tether of certain dog seat belt brands can cause tangling and twisting. We have listed the brands from least likely to tangle to the most likely.
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion padded and non-padded styles – no tangling, very little twisting
- Bergan – no tangling but tends to get twisted
- Pet Buckle – twisting with Kwik-Connect tether, tangling without
- Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Car Harness – tangling and twisting can occur
We have listed our dog seat belt brands from least expensive to most expensive.
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion non-padded styles
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion padded styles
- Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Car Harness
- Pet Buckle
As previously stated, each company uses their own testing methods. And each claims to have the best testing methods. We have looked into each testing method of our four dog seat belt brands and have done the best we can to determine who has the most extensive testing. The dog car harness brands here have been listed from the most extensively tested to the least.
- Pet Buckle – has done strength, durability, comfort, and actual crash testing
- Bergan & Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Car Harness – has done strength, durability, and comfort testing, but no actual crash testing.
- Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion – has done no testing but the company has been selling this product for many years and claims to have no complaints regarding safety.
Ease of Use
All our dog car harness brands have about the same level of ease when it comes to putting it on your dog. They all work basically the same way in that your dog steps through, you buckle the clips, then you put your dog in the car and secure the tether.
Best for Very Small Dogs or Very Large Dogs
The Guardian Gear / Cruising Companion non-padded styles will fit the smallest dogs while the Bergan dog car harness will fit the largest dogs.
Since there are so many dog car harness brands to choose from, it can be difficult to make a choice. Consider your dog and what is most important to you and compare. We apologize for not being able to provide information on other dog seat belt brands. If you have experience with any of these or other brands, feel free to share.
Check out the crash test video of the only dog car safety harness to be crash tested – The Pet Buckle®. I would like to caution you before watching the video. Although the video is of crash test dog dummies, they closely resemble dogs. Visit http://www.immioutdoors.com/petbuckle/sledtest.htm to watch the video. And to purchase the Pet Buckle® Dog Car Safety Harness, visit Pet Auto Safety.com.
Pet car barriers are great, but if you really want your dog to be safe, have him wear a dog car harness or put him in a crate and strap the crate in. These are the two safest pet auto safety methods around. Pet Buckle is a company which makes the best pet auto safety products. They have the Pet Buckle dog car harness and Kennel Restraints – both of which have been truly crash tested. (Crash testing costs millions of dollars and so far, Pet Buckle is the only company which has paid to have official crash testing done on their products. Other companies may claim it, but Pet Buckle is the only company that can prove it.)
Some dogs won’t tolerate a dog car harness so putting him in a kennel instead is a good alternative. If you have a plastic crate that will fit in the back seat of your car, then the Kennel Restraints will work perfectly. The Pet Buckle Kennel Restraints come with two adjustable straps. Lay the straps vertically parallel down the back of the seat. Take the seat belt of the car and buckle it in over the straps. Then set the plastic crate over the straps. Once done, take the straps and fold them around the crate. Strap them in and tighten. Put your dog inside the crate and you are ready to go!
For some time we have had the Pet Buckle brand dog seatbelt for large dogs. Pet Buckle brand is a fantastic brand because their products have been crash tested, whereas other dog seatbelts have only been strength tested. But we didn’t have a crash tested dog seatbelt for small dogs – Not until now, that is.
This Pet Buckle Dog Seatbelt fits most dogs under 20 pounds with a chest size of 10 to 20 inches. Choose from the standard Pet Buckle Dog Seatbelt or the Pet Buckle Dog Seatbelt with a Kwik-Connect Tether.
The Pet Buckle Dog Seatbelt without the tether has a loop on the back in which the seatbelt of the car goes through. This is great for dogs who don’t move around too much in the car. However, if your dog is likely to try to struggle out of the harness or if your dog will want to move around a lot, it is best to get the Pet Buckle Dog Seatbelt with the Kwik-Connect Tether. The Kwik-Connect Tether latches onto the back of the dog travel harness and to the Latch Bar between the seats of your car. The Kwik-Connect Tether gives your dog more freedom to move around in the back seat and helps reduce the risk of your dog getting tangled in the dog seatbelt system.