Imagine going for a drive with your best buddy in the front seat. The air flowing through its hair (as well as yours), the roaring sound of the engine, different vistas passing you by as you look through the windows… It’s definitely awesome, but you’ll admit, there’s a risk of either one of you getting hurt. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a nice safety harness for your pooch.
Of course, a safety harness is just one option. There are plenty of other products out there that can do the job well. For example, there are specialized car seats for dogs. Then there are crash-tested car crates for different types of animals. But there’s just something about a dog harness that makes it stand out. Maybe it’s the comfort or the looks, but your canine pal will definitely feel at home in one of these harnesses, even when you two are in your car.
Since we are just as huge dog lovers and driving enthusiasts as you are, we’ve decided to share our list of the best dog harnesses for car travel in 2020. We will also be providing you with a handy buyer’s guide so you can know what type of harness your little buddy needs.
Best Car Travel Dog Harnesses in 2020
Our first harness, ZuGoPet Rocketeer Pack might look strange since your little doggy appears ‘glued’ to the seat, but you don’t have to worry. This harness is perfectly safe and comfortable, and it’s incredibly easy to install. In fact, the good people of ZuGoPet opted for an upright harness for a reason. It’s by far the safest position for a small dog during a drive.
But it’s not all about positioning. The Rocketeer Pack has high-quality metal buckles that will keep your little doggo in place. In addition, it’s easy to clean and put away, and it doesn’t take up too much room. Moreover, the harness was crash-tested twice, passing with flying colors. It was even approved by expert veterinarians. ZuGoPet takes canine safety seriously and the Rocketeer Pack is proof of it.
By far, the coolest feature of the Rocketeer Pack is that it has dual functionality. Once you’re done driving your pal around, you can remove the Rocketeer and use it as a regular dog harness.
- Comfortable, durable and crash-tested for safety
- Works as a regular harness
- Easy to install and clean
- If your dog weighs over 25 pounds, this harness will be too small for it
Unlike ZuGoPet’s Rocketeer Pack, the SleepyPod Clickit Sport Utility actually looks like a regular harness. With its three points of seatbelt contact, it’s perfect for distributing the force of impact evenly across your dog’s torso. In other words, if you end up in a car accident, the impact will cause minimal damage to your pet if it wears the SleepyPod Terrain.
The design of the SleepyPod is sleek and stunning. It comes in four different colors and sizes, well-suited for most dogs out there. But it’s the material we fell in love with. The exterior is made of tough ballistic nylon, and the seatbelts sport automotive-grade webbing. This harness is a hard nut to crack and there’s no denying that your buddy will stay safe during rough rides or crashes.
- Made from ballistic nylon and contains automotive-grade seatbelt webbing
- Available in four sizes and colors
- Crash-tested and approved by vets
- Ergonomic design allows it to distribute the force of impact evenly
- It doesn’t fit well with certain dog breeds, including Afghans, Greyhounds, and Whippets
SleepyPod loves to experiment with pet products. While the Sport Utility harness is the ‘industry standard,’ the Clickit Terrain harness is a bit different. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it’s a fun little harness with a lot to offer.
First, there’s the barrel design. The Clickit Terrain is a cylindrical harness with three-point security grips on the back. The harness goes around your dog’s torso and keeps it securely fastened to the back seat.
But the design itself isn’t the only feature that makes this harness safe. In addition to its shape, the Clickit Terrain harness also has shock-absorbing webbing sleeves. These sleeves absorb most of the impact your dog will feel during a crash. The high-strength metal buckles will keep the harness in place during the whole drive. Once you’re done, just click the harness open and your tiny pal is free to go.
The Clickit Terrain harness is available in four sizes and five different colors. It also comes with reflective rear patches for visibility at night.
- Cylindrical design, shock-absorbing webbing sleeves, and three-point security grips
- Comfortable and safe
- Comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors
- The harness is not the best fit for long, lean, and large dogs like Great Danes and Greyhounds
Once again, we have an amazing harness that combines a simple design with durability and safety. The Solvit harness is incredibly simple. It looks like a single, large pad that presses against your doggo’s chest and belly. However, that’s the beauty of this product. The simple design allows your pet to snuggle up in the back seat, but it’s loose enough to allow it to move around a bit. It’s a perfect way of allowing your pet to sit in the car without being bored. But more importantly, it greatly reduces driver distraction. The harness has also been crash-tested with overwhelmingly positive results.
There are many other benefits to the Solvit safety harness. For instance, it’s incredibly easy to install and remove, as well as wash. Moreover, it has a special attachment in the back, where you can hook up the leash. That’s right, the Solvit is another dual functionality harness that can be used outside of the car.
- Easy to install and remove
- Padded exterior for extra safety
- Can be used as a regular harness outside of the car
- This harness might not be the best fit for large dogs such as St Bernards or Great Danes
Ruffwear has always been an innovative company. From their knotted dog collars to their leashes, they keep making exceptional products for our canine friends. It’s that inventiveness that put the Ruffwear Load Up on this list.
Minimalist designs are awesome and the Load Up is the perfect example of that. Like SleepyPod Clickit, the Load Up has a slightly cylindrical design. However, instead of all-around padding, this harness features a lot of belts and straps with high-quality mesh. In addition, all of the hardware is made of durable, break-proof metal. If your car ends up in an accident, the Load Up will keep your dog secure in one spot without snapping.
The Load Up is extremely ergonomic; if you want to take your buddy out for a potty break, you can keep the harness on. You can also leave it on during rest stops. The doggy won’t be bothered by it at all. In fact, it will feel safe and comfortable with just enough room to move.
- Adjustable, minimalistic design
- Extremely durable metal hardware
- Universal attachments for most seatbelts
- The harness comes in only one color
Why Do You Need to Get a Car Safety Harness?
Dogs are active animals that need to move. Even taking a short drive can be boring for them. And while it’s true that some dogs will behave on long drives or sleep in the back seat, you shouldn’t always rely on that. After all, dogs can be unpredictable. For example, your little buddy might want to jump into your lap while you’re driving. Not only is that distracting you from your drive, but it can also mess up your rhythm and prevent you from reacting to what’s happening on the road.
Of course, even dogs that don’t hop in your lap can cause trouble in the car. They can block your rearview mirror by sticking their head out, which most dogs simply love doing. In addition, if they’re in the back, they can nudge you with their head while you’re driving. And let’s not forget the dogs that love to step on your gearshift or your hand brake, or dogs that love to howl at passing cars while your window is open. It’s not a pretty sight, that’s for sure. At worst, all this could cause you to make a mistake that can cost you your life while driving. At best, it’ll be annoying and distracting.
But it’s not just about your safety. At least 10% of dogs that drive with their owners get sick, either during or after the ride. That doesn’t happen to dogs who are fastened to one spot. A dog moving about in the car can get nauseous or dizzy. In addition, the backdraft from the open windows can negatively impact its health.
Features to Look For in the Best Car Safety Harness for Dogs
The best dog harness has to fit nearly every car and nearly every dog out there. Millions of dog owners tend to own millions of different cars, so there are plenty of combinations out there. For example, you might have a German Shepherd driving in the back of your Honda Civic. Your neighbor, on the other hand, might drive his French Poodle in an Audi A3, while your brother’s Rottweiler is chilling next to him inside of his Smart car.
Size matters a lot here. There are lots of harnesses out there that claim to be suitable for all dog sizes. However, that might not always be the case. The best thing you can do is read the product description and find the biggest supported weight for the harness. For example, some harnesses can only fit dogs up to 20 pounds. If you have a dog that’s heavier than that, you might want to look into a different harness. In addition, make sure that the harness has buckles that fit the dog’s shape naturally. For instance, the best harnesses have belt buckles in the back. That way they don’t disrupt the dog but still keep it safely fastened. It\s also extremely important that there are several buckles in the back. Not only does it increase safety, but it’s also a better, more natural fit for the pup.
Flexibility and Comfort
Quite a few people think that a harness should keep the dog in one place so it doesn’t move an inch. However, that is completely wrong. If you get a tight harness and tie your dog down, it will suffer both physically and psychologically. The tight harness will cause breathing problems and will obstruct the dog’s mobility, making it feel trapped. You definitely don’t want your little buddy to feel that way while you two are on the road.
However, the other option, i.e. keeping it overly loose, is also not good. If it’s loose, the dog will misbehave and continue to bother you while you drive. Also, if there’s a sudden jolt or crash, the harness will not keep your pooch safe. It can bump into the car doors or the seats. There have even been cases of dogs choking on loose harnesses because of jolty driving.
As basic as it might sound, your dog’s harness has to be ‘just right.’ Proper harnesses allow your dog to move just enough to keep itself interested. However, during an accident, these harnesses will lock down and keep the dog safely in one place. Naturally, a harness won’t save your pup during an extreme crash, but it’s possibly the safest option out there for bumpy rides and minor accidents. If possible, make sure that the harness you get has wide, padded straps for better shock absorption.
Reading the reviews, you’ve seen how many times we’ve emphasized the size of the harness. While there are products out there that are ‘one size fits all,’ which we already covered, there are harness options that offer several different sizes. Usually, they range from S to XL, and they come with a handy guide to measuring your dog. After all, not all manufacturers use the same measurements. What’s S to Ruffwear might be XS or even M to SleepyPod. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check the dimensions for each option.
Of course, as a dog owner, you need to consider both length and girth. Sometimes animals gain or lose weight. If that happens, make sure that the harness you get is adjustable. Don’t just get an S, get an S with buckles and retractable straps.
We can’t forget that these are car harnesses. Your puppy is, ironically, safer on the street than in the car. Not only does it have limited space to move, but it’s also moving at an incredibly high speed. In addition, there are other cars, passengers, and objects on the road. And no matter how good of a driver you are, mistakes do happen.
Any number of things can happen in a car. That’s why your dog’s harness absolutely must keep your dog safe, and we cannot stress that enough.
So, what type of harness is usually the safest? Well, that would depend on the material and the design. For instance, a proper harness will have metal belt buckles, a padded body for shock absorption, and it will be made from a durable material like nylon. In addition, the harness should not obstruct the dog’s body in any way. Most high-quality harnesses go around the dog’s chest and waist, enveloping it. Some manufacturers choose to mount their harness upright, while others simply provide you with a buckle or a ring for the seatbelt. You need to find the option that works best for your doggy and that will make it feel safe.
Some harnesses are only good for cars, and that’s perfectly fine. However, you can greatly benefit from using your product as a regular harness as well. First of all, you save yourself some money by not having to buy two products. Next, you get to test the durability of the harness in an everyday setting, outside of the car. Finally, it gives you a chance to bond with your buddy the second you leave the car.
Dual functionality harnesses are also great for the dog. The more often you use them outside of the car, the better and faster your friend will get used to them. It also gives it a chance to move around in the harness in a space with no restrictions, unlike the back of the car. That way, the dog will grow fond of the harness and won’t sit in the car unless you fasten it.
Finding the right harness isn’t easy, especially since there are so many options out there. That’s why it’s important to know how to judge a product based on its price.
First of all, avoid any overpriced products. Sure, a harness might look bright and shiny. However, it’s not worth paying several thousands of dollars for something that might cost more than the car you put it in. Also, if your dog doesn’t grow fond of the harness, you’d just be wasting your money.
However, you should also avoid extremely cheap products. Saving money is great, but if you buy a second-rate harness, you risk harming your dog. And not just by driving, mind you; plenty of poor-quality harnesses contain harmful chemicals and toxic paint, as well as a poor fabric that sheds. If your buddy were to inhale or swallow any of that, it would wind up at the vet’s office. No money is worth your dog’s safety.
The best way to judge a product by its price is to look at the big names. Do a little research and cross-reference their prices. If the harness you’re looking for is within that range, you’ve got yourself the perfect product.
It’s undeniable that most dogs enjoy drives as much as we humans do. However, safety must always come first, which is why you’ll need the best dog harnesses for car travel out there. Whether it’s in the front or in the back, your best bud will be safe and secure, but most importantly, it will feel happy that it gets to drive around next to you as often as possible.