How To Fit A Dog Car Harness
And Keep Your Best Friend Safe In The Car
by Bill Flitter
I love taking my dog out for a ride. She loves it too. Unfortunately, my research for this post says we’ve been doing this all wrong. I’ve been putting my dog in danger every time we get in the car. My biggest offense? I skip the dog car harness. What follows are important safety tips every dog owner should follow to keep their four-legged friends safe and happy.
Going for a ride has become part of my dog’s weekday routine. Around 8:10 each morning, she’ll sense that it’s almost time to leave for school. She’ll stand by the door and start barking. This is her way of telling the kids to brush their teeth, grab their backpack, and get in the car. Her barking adds to the chaos of the morning routine, but she takes her job seriously.
After we all get in the car, she sits like a queen in the front seat and assumes the role of co-pilot: it’s her job to look out for kids on bikes and she hangs her head out the window to make sure everyone sees her and she sees them.
Did you know...
How To Fit A Dog Car Harness And Other Safety Tips When Driving With Fido
Dog Car Harness
The first thing I’m doing wrong is that I’m letting the dog sit in the front seat without a proper dog car harness. This is dangerous for a couple of reasons: First, I’m not restraining her. She can hop back and forth between the front seat and the back seat as she sometimes does, especially if the kids are eating chicken nuggets. This could cause a serious problem if I have to hit the brakes suddenly because she’ll fly into the dash or she’ll crash into the door. She hasn’t hurt herself yet, but that could just be luck.
The second problem with the dog in the front seat is the danger of airbags. If I did get in an accident and the airbags were deployed, they could seriously injure the dog. Not only that, in a collision, she’ll be a 15-pound flying object that could harm herself and anyone else inside the vehicle.
The solution is to buy some sort of dog car harness (see below) that functions like a seatbelt. Better yet, if you have an SUV or pick up, put the dog behind an installed barrier or in a crate. That will restrict the dog’s movements and keep it from tumbling around. Fido might not be happy with this, but at least he’ll be safe.
What If It's A Breezy Day?
Letting the dog stick her head out the window is a bad idea. I’ve already confessed I am guilty of this one. My dog absolutely loves this, as most dogs do, however, it’s very unsafe. I’ve always wondered how she doesn’t get bugs in her eyes or mouth, which is a valid concern. Even worse are the flying pebbles that get kicked up from the car ahead of you. Obviously, that could seriously hurt your dog. The dog might get upset not being able to sniff the breeze. But it’s better than getting a rock in the eye.
Did you know...
Are Pick-Up Trucks Safe?
I don’t know how many times I’ve been driving down the street only to see a pickup with a dog or two riding in the bed of the truck. At every red light, the dogs peer over the side of the truck, or prop their front legs up on the edge, or they try to stick their head into the cab through the rear window. There are so many risks for a dog in a pickup bed: jumping out of the truck and into traffic, getting hit by flying debris, and being tossed around during acceleration and braking. The dog could get seriously injured back there before the driver even knows it.
Did you know...
Never Leave a Dog in the Car
I saved the most serious safety issue with dogs in cars for last. And that’s the issue of leaving your dog in the car while you run an errand. It’s very tempting to leave your dog in the car for “for 10 minutes.” To think the dog will be fine is wrong. In the summer months you could fry your dog’s brain in that amount of time.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has a great table listed on their site (see chart below) that shows just how quickly the heat can rise in a car with the windows cracked open. Basically, if it’s 80 degrees outside, in 10 minutes time the heat in the car can rise to over 100 degrees. You do not want to come back to your car to find your furry loved one suffering heatstroke. Leaving my dog in a hot car is definitely not something I mess around with. Take her with you or leave her home.
Over To You
So, I’m going to be more mindful about letting the dog ride in the front seat with her head out the window. How about you? What are you guilty of doing with your dog in the car? Have you had good luck with an installed dog barrier or dog car harness in your truck or SUV?