With so many dog lovers in the world, it’s no wonder we want to take our furry BFF everywhere we go—vacations, trips to the dog park, or even just running errands around town. Our dogs go where we go, and in many cases, this includes rides in the car. It’s just as important to prepare safety measures for your pet as it would be for a human passenger. Just think: If seat belts are second nature for us humans, why aren’t they for dogs?
RELATED: 4 Tips for a Dog-Friendly Road Trip
Car safety features are designed for humans, not animals, so there’s a real risk for dogs to get serious injuries without the proper protection. Using a dog harness can help to minimize force along the neck in the event of a sudden change of speed (like hard braking or when taking off from a stop). Keeping your dog safely harnessed also prevents them from possibly causing an accident if they get curious and distract you while driving. Keep in mind the harness should never attach at the neck, which could cause the dog to choke. Always attach on the dog's body.
According to a survey sponsored by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products, 65 percent of people have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog. This includes petting them, letting them sit on your lap, and giving them food or treats while driving. Each of these behaviors is a distraction from driving and increases the risk of danger, not just for both you and your pup but for others who share the road as well. AAA recommends restraining your dog in the car to protect them, just like you do every time you put on your own seat belt. With the right tools and precautions, your dog can still be the best navigator ever, and you'll have peace of mind while bringing your pup everywhere you go.
Crash-tested and doggy approved, this dog car harness comes in small, medium, large and extra-large to accommodate any breed. Start by simply buckling your car seat belt into the locked position, and then attach the harness to the chest strap. No more tumbles from the backseat! Plus, a breathable liner ensures your pup is comfortable and doesn’t overheat (still, don’t forget the A/C and never, ever leave your pup in the car on a hot day).
Shop now: PetSafe Happy Ride Deluxe Car Harness, $20; amazon.com
At just over $10, this safety harness checks all the boxes: effective, simple, secure, and affordable. This small harness works best for small dogs in the 6-20 pound range, and it comes with a fully adjustable design that works for all shapes—from Yorkies to pugs.
Shop now: Premiere Pet Car Safety Harness for Small Dogs, $13; walmart.com
Kurgo’s dog car harnesses integrate seamlessly with any car seat belt system. All you have to do is run a standard seat belt through the loops on the back of the harness to secure your dog in place! No fussing with buckles or additional straps. Plus, Kurgo has a lifetime warranty on all of their harnesses.
Shop now: Kurgo Car Safety Dog Harness, $60; amazon.com
Got a chewer on your hands? The durable, figure-8 webbing on this harness ensures added security for any size dog, especially the escape artists. Several reviewers of the Reddy Road Trip harness mention striking out with other harnesses because their pup chewed right through them, but that this one was a game changer that kept their cheeky canines in their assigned seats.
Shop now: Reddy Road Trip Crash-Tested Dog Harness, $50; petco.com
This dog car harness comes in multiple size options for that perfect fit. Be sure you can fit two fingers, but no more, under the neck, armpit, and chest areas. There should also be a two-finger distance between the elbow area and the harness. This one features a padded chest strap for comfort and doubles as a walking harness!
Shop now: Easy Rider Car Harness for Dogs, $19; amazon.com
With this dual-clip dog harness, you’ll be able to attach a leash on the front chest area or on the back between the shoulder blades. The top handle makes it easy to grab your dog prior to leashing or help them navigate any outdoor adventure with ease. Plus, your standard seat belt loops easily through the same handle for safety on trips.
Shop now: Kurgo Go-Tech Adventure Nylon Reflective Dog Harness, $31; chewy.com
Crafted with strength-rated all-metal hardware, this dog car harness allows your pup to sit, stand, or lie down comfortably on car rides. It’s also been safety certified—it was tested at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration facility under the conditions outlined in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
Shop now: Ruffwear Dog Car Harness, $80; amazon.com
This one is the priciest on our list but comes with plenty of research to back up the cost. The materials used in the design are built to last for the long haul, utilizing vehicle-tested seat belt webbing and a dual buckle closure system. The drive harness has undergone “rigorous testing” to comply with global child safety and vehicle interior standards. Because your dog IS like your child, after all.
Shop now: EzyDog Drive Safety Travel Dog Car Harness, $115; amazon.com
From the creators of ThunderShirts (like swaddles, they apply gentle pressure to relieve anxiety) comes the ThunderBelt. This harness is made from soft padding that comforts and protects your dog during car rides. It’s compatible with any car seat belt and works layered over a ThunderShirt if your dog gets anxious on car rides.
Shop now: ThunderBelt - Car Restraint Harness for Dogs, $50; thundershirt.com
With five size options and five adjustment points, this harness provides a nearly custom fit for any dog. The chest pad is designed to reduce stress on the trachea and sternum in the event of a sudden stop or crash, and it can even be used as a walking harness for everyday use.
Shop now: Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness, $32; chewy.com
Users of this harness rave about the sturdy construction and ease of adjustment. Designed with a safety-minded reflective stripe, this harness is crash-tested to guarantee safety for your four-legged friend. Give your dog the same level of protection that you would a human passenger with a car safety harness!
Shop now: Sherpa Crash Tested Seat Belt Safety Harness, $19; walmart.com