Reasons to Restrain
There are several important reasons to restrain the dog in the car, some more subtle than others:
I'm sure there are other good reasons as well. Some of you may remember the story of Leo the Bichon Frise in California, who become the tragic victim of someone else's road rage - he would still be alive if he had been restrained with a simple belt.
Canine car restraints fall into four broad categories: harness/tether combination, seat-belt tether, cargo tether, and pick-up truck tether. The latter three all rely on the use of some sort of harness (NEVER attach a tether to the dog's collar), but most of the harnesses in broad distribution are not designed for the forces of impact and will likely fail. See Design Choices for more details. I have focused on the first two categories, but have tried to include companies who cover the cargo and pick-up truck areas as well. In other words, I'm assuming that your dog rides on the seat as mine does, preferably the back seat to avoid the additional risk of the air bag.
Whole Dog Journal has published a review of several dog restraints in the June 1998, May 2001 and February 2004 issues - click on the issue to order reprints or subscribe. It is a great article for its scope, BUT, I was startled that they did not review two of the most solid products on the market - the Champion Canine Seatbelt System and the Ruff Rider Roadie. They seemed to concentrate on low-cost models instead. Nearly all of the products they reviewed are tether-only devices, and thus rely a standard dog harness, about which I've already expressed my opinion. I am not going re-review the belts that they wrote about, but I have noted them and included my impressions of each product, in the Specifications section.
Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine published the results of their car restraint test in the Sept 1999 issue of Your Dog, another fine newsletter I receive. They did force measurements and destructive testing on several devices, and I have liberally pulled information from their results in this review.
Last updated 06/26/2012
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