Having your dog by your side on a long car trip or even just to grocery store can be good company. However, like humans, dogs must be protected from the dangers of sharp turns and potential car crashes. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that, if possible, any dog riding in the car should be secured by some sort of car harness that attaches to a back seat safety belt. Each harness is slightly different, but all will have the same basic design of two leg openings for the front legs, a panel of fabric or a strap that lays on the front of your dog's chest and a buckle in the back that clips around the upper shoulders. This will provide your dog the freedom to move around, roll over and lie down, but will sufficiently restrain the dog in case of sudden stops or accidents.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Working human car safety belt
Accustom your dog to the feel of a car harness by having them wear it for daily walks a few days before your trip. This will make your dog feel more comfortable when you put them in the harness in the car.
Untangle any straps or buckles from the harness so that it lays flat on the ground.
Insert your dog's front legs through the openings and pull the remaining fabric or strap upwards over your dog's torso and shoulders.
Clip the buckle on top of your dog's back. The buckle should fall within inches of the nape of their neck, not down by their abdomen or groin area, where abrupt restraint could cause damage to their organs.
Adjust the side restraint straps so that the fit is snug but comfortable. It should be loose enough so that you can easily slide a finger or two in between the harness and the dog, but tight enough so that they can't wiggle free.
Attach the harness clip in the back to a fastened human seat belt. This is what will restrain your dog in the event of an accident, so it's important to make sure that the seat belt is buckled properly.
Tips and warnings
- If your dog seems on edge with the car harness, try providing them with a treat or chew toy each time you take a road trip. This will help your dog to associate wearing the harness and going in the car with yummy treats.
- Never leave your dog in the car when it's warm outside. An 80-degree day can turn the inside of a car into an oven of 46.1 degrees C in less than 4 minutes. If you have to run in somewhere, try sitting in the car with the air conditioning off for five minutes to see how quickly it heats up. You should open your all of the windows 8 to 10 inches and even then, return to the car quickly as it will still get uncomfortably warm for your dog.
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