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Dogs make great car companions—until they try to jump in your lap while you’re driving! But even if your dog settles quietly in the back seat, it’s a good idea to secure them, just as we humans put on our seatbelts. The truth is that dogs on car rides are just as susceptible as humans to injury if an accident were to occur. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best car dog harnesses to help you protect your pup from injury.
Properly securing your dog with a car safety harness and/or a dog seatbelt every time you drive is a smart idea. In fact, six states require it. (Check this interactive map to check the status of canine car-safety regulations in your state.) Wherever you live, a car harness may save your dog’s life in the event of an accident. It also has the added benefit of keeping dogs from leaping into the front seat during rides or from hopping outside when you open the car door.
When evaluating car harnesses, there are a couple of features you may want to look at along with price:
- Whether the harness is crash-tested: Only a few car harnesses have been crash-test certified by the Center for Pet Safety. Owning a crash-tested dog harness may give you extra peace of mind that the harness will hold up in the event of a crash. Expect a crash-tested harness to be at the higher end of the price range.
- Whether a seatbelt attachment is included: Although some harnesses are sold as a set along with the seat belt attachment, others may sell the attachment separately.
- Sizing: You’ll want to choose the size of a harness based on your dog’s chest, neck, and length measurements, rather than his weight, to ensure a good fit. Measure your dog carefully before buying.
- Comfort and construction: Look for details like a padded chest plate, cushioning to prevent chafing, and durable stitching and materials. We especially love to see a lifetime warranty, as offered by Kurgo and Sleepypod.
Safety note: Use a car harness only when you, or another person, are in the car with your dog. If you ever plan to leave your dog alone in a vehicle, make sure to unbuckle your dog first. Left alone, the dog could become tangled in a car harness or seat belt strap and injure themselves.
The Best Car Dog Harnesses
We dug deep into reviews, research, and expert advice to curate this list of the best car dog harnesses. One harness rose above the rest for overall safety, durability, and ease of use—the Sleepypod ClickIt Sport. Read on to find out more about it and nine other great car harness options.
Certified by the Center for Pet Safety, this car dog harness is made of durable ballistic nylon and has undergone intensive safety testing. It features a three-point design to reduce forward and sideways movement and attaches to the seat belt directly. It can also be used as a walking harness, as it sports a D-ring leash attachment on the back of the neck strap. Rover’s Dog People Panel member and expert trainer Nicole Ellis highly recommends this dog car harness. “It’s unique because it’s actually crash-tested,” she says.
Note: This harness is not recommended for whippet, greyhound, saluki, Afghan hound, or Borzoi dog breeds.
The PetSafe car dog harness is easy to use and the padding in front makes it comfortable for dogs to wear. In addition, the harness comes with a leash attachment (so you can use it for walks and potty breaks) plus the strap needed to attach it to the seat belt. Note that only the small, medium, and large sizes of this harness are crash-test certified by the manufacturer.
For long road trips, this Ruffwear car harness is a great option for extended periods of time in the car. It has a low connection point that allows dogs to lie down comfortably while wearing it. Plus, it’s safe to use during rest stops and potty breaks with a leash.
Because of its heavy-duty construction, this 4×4 North America car harness gets the thumbs-up from owners of extra-large dogs. Made of nylon and stainless steel, it can withstand the heavier weight of larger dogs. You can also use it as a walking harness—the reflective banding is designed to increase your dog’s visibility in low-light conditions.
This Mighty Paw car harness slips easily over a dog’s head, making it a great option for dogs averse to step-in harnesses. With two leash attachment rings, on the front and back, it can double as a no-pull walking harness. You can also adjust the length of the tether. Note: You will need to purchase a seat belt attachment separately, as one is not included with this harness.
Whether you plan to use it in the car or while out on walks, this Kurgo Tru-Fit harness has you covered. It comes with a seat belt attachment, all steel buckles, and a no-pull style front D-ring leash attachment for walking. This harness also boasts five adjustment points on the straps to ensure a perfect fit for your dog.
Verified review: “The fit was spot on. Whiskey is a boxer mix, medium-sized (45 lbs) and has a very broad chest but tiny waist. Sometimes it’s hard to find harnesses or coats that are big enough for his chest area. This one was perfect! Whiskey is a leash-puller, so it’s nice to have the option to clip in front or back. The firm fit gave better support and Whiskey seemed to like it a lot on our walk to the beach.”
This Lukovee car dog harness is a wallet-friendly option for keeping your furry friend safe while traveling and contains a leash attachment ring so your dog can wear it on short walks as well. Made of mesh fabric, it slips easily over a dog’s head and comes with an elastic bungee cord seat belt attachment, designed to prevent jerking if your car stops suddenly. This harness comes in seven sizes, including XXX-small a puppy or tiny dog.
The Easy Rider car dog harness also also functions as a walking harness, so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination. It’s designed to connect to a front or rear seatbelt and incorporates a padded chest strap for comfort. This harness has been crash-tested by the manufacturer.
This top-of-the-line harness from Kurgo is constructed from a single piece of high-tensile tubular webbing. It has a padded, broad chest plate for comfort and protection, designed to reduce forward motion in the event of sudden stopping or impact. Crash-tested by the manufacturer.
Certified by the Center for Pet Safety, th Terrain harness from Sleepypod is designed for use in a rear passenger seat of your car. It features a three-point design that secures your dogs entire torso and offers quick connection and release when used as a car seatbelt. Designed to double as a walking harness, it includes rear reflective patches that you can interchange with your choice of custom patches.
More Dog Car Safety Tips
Packing for a road trip? Your dog needs car snacks, water, and potty breaks—just like you do. Make water readily available to your pup to avoid dehydration. Meals, treats, and chew toys are all great options to keep your dog busy and distracted in the car—a Classic Kong gives them all of those things at once.
If you have to leave your dog in the car briefly, be sure to first assess the temperature. What feels like a mild day outside won’t feel so mild inside the car. Surprisingly, the temperature inside the car on a 75-degree day can easily reach 100 degrees! Pets can die inside hot cars, even if the windows are left slightly open.
Keep in mind that many jurisdictions have enacted laws against leaving a dog in the car. When in doubt, and whenever you can, take your pup with you when you leave the car. A harness that has both car and leash attachment points will help!
For more info on traveling in the car with your dog, check out the articles below.
Karen Anderson is a writer at Rover. Before joining Rover, she was a writer and editor at Apple and a freelancer for companies including Cardiac Science, Houzz, the Home Owners Club, and the Seattle Times. Her hobbies are dancing, gardening, science fiction, and pet-sitting for friends and neighbors. She shares her house with a delightful clowder of quirky rescue cats.
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