I’m one of the people who admits, a bit guiltily, that I don’t restrain my dogs in the car. My reasons are varied:
- I don’t have enough room for four LARGE dog crates and groceries
- I don’t think a Dane-sized crate would fit into the car at all
- I’m too lazy to move four crates in and out of the car depending on the cargo I need to haul
- I don’t think the crates would be secure in a crash. I think I’d rather have a dog coming at me than a dog in a crate coming at me.
I have a Honda Element. We’ve removed the rear seats so the entire cargo area is open. I haul dogs, flowers, groceries, furniture, and dog training supplies. There aren’t any seats the dogs can sit in, so we’re not able to use the doggie seats or even harnesses that attach to seatbelts. For us, it’s crates or nothing when it comes to restraining our dogs.
I don’t think a bungee cord would hold a dog crate steady in a car crash. So instead of a projectile dog, I’d have a projectile crate with a dog in it.
Which is why my dogs ride free in the car.
As you can see below (can you find all four?), our dogs like to lay squishy — all over one another. In the Element, they lay nicely on the cushy dog beds in the cargo area of the Element. They sleep soundly back there and don’t wander around the vehicle or try to get into the front seat with me.
I’ve always been in a quandary about securing my dogs in the car: I always want to do what’s best for my dogs. But with my setup, there doesn’t really seem to be a right answer. Which is why I’ve done nothing.
So when I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal about actual scientific testing of dog harnesses and restraints, it got my attention. Apparently there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to pet safety (aptly named Center for Pet Safety) and they’ve teamed up with auto maker Subaru (a very dog-friendly company who considers dog owners a large and prime market) to test pet restraints. They hope to determine which restraints work well enough to earn approval ratings from pet-advocacy groups.
This type of testing — as it applies to dogs — is in it’s infancy. I don’t know of any group doing this — although the need is obvious (with almost 90% of pet owners traveling with their pets). The testers are using some crash-test dogs to test how well those harnesses hold up under simulated crash conditions.
The crash-test dummy dogs simulate a terrier (about 25 pounds), a border collie (about 45 pounds), and a golden retriever (about 75 pounds). What? No Great Danes? Schooner demands that giant breeds gain inclusion in these tests!
In any event, the tests were both disappointing and alarming. Of the seven harnesess tested, only one harness (Sleepypod’s Clickit three-point harness) consistently kept a dog safe in a crash. So, is there a right answer? I think we need a lot more testing and hopefully the pet manufacturer’s will put some muscle behind their products so we know that our pets will be safe when properly restrained.
Your turn: Do you restrain your dog in the car? How? If not, where does your dog ride?