Taking your dog with you while you travel might be fun. To make the experience more enjoyable and safe for the dog there is one accessory that is indispensable and that is the dog car harness. If you start searching for one without a plan in mind, you are likely to get overwhelmed. That is why I have presented here a short list of the 5 best dog car harnesses that you can choose from. I will also tell you how to decide on what the best option would be for your dog.
Here are the 5 products that are my personal favorites and also the best rated harnesses trusted by dog parents everywhere.
Let me get into the details of each of these harnesses and also tell you what I like and what I do not like in each of them.
Rabbitgoo Dog Harness No-Pull Pet Harness
If you have a dog who loves to tug his harness or pull it with all his might then you would love this no-pull harness from Rabbitgoo. Based on your dog breed you get to choose from 4 size variants – small, medium, large and extra large. There are also several lively colors of the reflective vest to choose from.
The straps and the vest all look and feel premium. This is a durable harness which can last for years. The vest ensures uniform distribution of the pressure when the dog pulls on the leash. Therefore when you use this harness in your car, it acts as a secure and convenient option for your pet. The no-pull design also prevents the leash from choking the dog.
If there is one harness that I would blindly recommend for anyone who has never used a car harness before then it is this one. Being a versatile product you can use this even for your regular walks. Therefore this is definitely the best overall impressive harness in my list.
SlowTon Dog Car Harness
Designed specifically keeping the car safety of your dog in mind, the SlowTon Dog Harness has a super-comfortable vest design. There are multiple size options to choose ranging from XXX-small to Large. If you are like the many dog parents with a small breed dog struggling to find a suitable car harness then this one is for you.
If you have a nippy puppy, the tough quality canvas cannot be ripped off easily. For the overactive puppies this easy to use design comes handy. All you have to do is to slip the loop over the head and then bring the vest below the belly and buckle the straps in place. The other feature that I liked about this harness that is how compactly this one folds. It is also easy to clean and the mesh vest dries quickly.
Being a durable one with plenty of adjustment options this one can be used right from the time your dog is very young. Therefore, I would recommend this harness for anyone who is looking for a good value harness, a long term investment.
Lukovee Dog Safety Vest Harness
This vest harness from Lukovee is available from sizes XXX-small to large. It is suitable for small to large sized breeds as well as for cats. If you need something that is gentle on your dog’s skin and also breathable then this vest is definitely one of the best choices.
The car seat belt features a small elasticated portion which only gives enough room for the dog to move comfortably in the seat where he is buckled. There is a 360° rotational clasp for convenient movement. The wide and comfortable design with 4 straps works even in puppies that are fussy with step-in harnesses. You can use the seat belt that comes along to buckle up the harness to the trunk or the seat. This multi-utility harness can be used both in the car and for walks. If you are looking for a budget-friendly harness that can also offer dependable protection for your dog this one is a great choice. The largest size variant is ‘large’ which is only suitable for a few large sized dogs. Most of the large breeds and the older dogs in them might not feel very comfortable with this harness.
PetSafe Solvit Deluxe
PetSafe Solvit Deluxe is a crash-tested product available for small, medium and large breeds of dogs. You can easily use this with the car’s inbuilt seat belt system so as to give more secure protection.
Most of the other products on my list might not be compatible with a few car models. But this one is suitable for all the cars which is one thing that makes this an easy to buy option for the first-timers. The strap can be adjusted to decide whether you need the dog to sit upright or allow him to lie down on the seat. PetSafe Solvit Deluxe doesn’t come with rings but there are nylon loops instead where you attach the leash. The overall weight is pretty light and comfortable to carry along during travel. As an added element of comfort there is also a padded strip on the strap that runs around the back of the neck. This prevents discomfort for the dog when the leash is tugged. The double-sided adjustment also makes it easy to achieve the best fit.
Kurgo Dog Harness
The Kurgo Dog Harness comes with a ready to use the tether for a car seat belt. The carabiner included for the seat belt attachment is wide and conveniently fits with the seat belt. You get to choose from two options – crash tested buckles or easy clip buckles. Sizes from X-small to X-large are available with this harness.
The fact that this one comes with a no-pull ring on the chest portion makes this a great choice if you have just started training your dog to walk on the leash. Therefore you can use the same harness for training and as well as for use while travelling in the car.
The fabric of the vest, is easy to wash and stays as good as new for a long time. The design allows you to slide over the harness on your dog’s head easily and clip the buckle on. Therefore putting on and taking off the harness can be done with minimal efforts. Though this might not be the best choice for everyday walks you can use it for short duration strolls. It is convenient to attach the leash quickly for the potty breaks while traveling.
Why Do You Need A Dog Car Harness?
It might look a lot like your ordinary walking harness but the construction quality is going to be tougher. For walks the harness might be on your dog only for a few minutes but during car travel the harness stays on for hours. Therefore there is enhanced comfort in the car harnesses.
Who Would Really Benefit From Buying A Dog Car Harness?
I have heard some pet parents express their skepticism about this useful gear saying that they do not travel with their dog very often. The truth is that you never know when the need arises. Even if it is a short trip, say a trip to the vet’s clinic for a regular check-up you would need a car harness to ensure your dog’s safety and to be assured that you are not violating the law. So, this is an indispensable product for everyone who has a dog at home. If you already own a harness for walking your dog and think that you do not need a separate car safety gear, think again. Car safety harnesses offer higher levels of comfort and higher levels of safety as well. The tensile strength and build quality of the car harnesses are also much better than those in the walking harnesses.
How Is A Dog Safety Harness Worn?
Though the purpose might be different for walking harnesses and car safety harnesses the way you put the harness on might be more or less similar. These are like your normal back clip harnesses where there is a vest like supportive portion that goes over the dog’s chest and buckles across the dog’s belly. Unlike collars the car harnesses do not exert all the pressure on the neck and therefore do not cause any injury.
Where Do You Use A Dog Car Harness?
The back seat is the optimal position for the dog to travel when you are driving. This prevents distracted driving and also restricts the dog from disturbing the driver.
What Are The Features To Look Out For?
If you already know a little about dog harnesses you might still find the specifications mentioned for each of the products to be a little confusing. What is a seat belt and what is a harness for the car seat belt? What kind of harness would you need and how much movement should you allow for your dog? I will talk about some of the top features to look for and this should put your confusions to rest.
Before we get into the features, make sure that you do not use the term dog car seat belt and dog car harness interchangeably. I used to think they are both one and the same. The difference here is that the seat belt is simply the belt alone. You buckle it into your car seat belt buckle and tether it to the collar. But then harnesses designed for use in the car are designed based on the car safety in mind and most of them are crash tested. They might also be easy to incorporate with the safety car seat belt system that you already have. This is one of the best choices when it comes to city drives as well as long drives.
Here are some of the dog car harness features to look into:
Safety definitely comes first. Therefore you would need something that is strong and durable in terms of the construction. This gives you the peace of mind knowing that the buckles would not snap off or the strap would not give away during a high impact collision. For this you would also need to look at the material of the straps, the reinforced stitching on the harness and a strong ring for the leash.
Is It Easy For The Pet Parent?
The harness should be easy to use for the pet parent. If you have too many buckles and the design itself feels like a whole world of complication then you would be spending more time in trying to figure out the harness than actually using it. Having many buckles might look attractive at first glance. You might think that you can put on such a harness effortlessly. But trust me, an easy to slide harness with a single snap buckle would be the most convenient to use. Look for ‘easy open’ buckle design on the harness. This means that there is just one buckle that you have to remove to grant your dog his much-awaited freedom. Besides the buckle design itself you should also look for the style of wearing. Most come in the form of a vest with a head loop that you slide over his head and then a buckle that you snap across his belly or above. Not all dogs patiently allow you to put on a harness on them. In fact learning how to put a harness on a dog is an art. Therefore get a harness that is easy to put on and take off the dog. Stay away from the ones that come with complicated design or too many straps and buckles. By the time you get the hang of how to use the harness your dog might probably outgrow it. This brings us to the next feature to consider – the size of the harness.
Size Of The Harness
You would see the sizes marked as X-small, small and so on. The manufacturer might also give a list of the recommended breeds in most cases. Check whether you find your dog on the list before you choose a product. The real trouble is for those who have smaller breeds like Chihuahua, ShiTzu, Pug, and also for those who have larger breeds like St. Bernard, English Mastiff and the likes.
Look for the size chart that talks about the measurement of the neck girth and the chest girth. Measure your dog before you choose one. Choosing one for a puppy might be the toughest part. Dogs grow pretty fast during their first year. Choosing a low budget variant might be a better option during this stage. Stay away from something that is too small or too large for your dog. You need the just right fit to keep the dog comfortable and safe at the same time.
Is It Easy For The Dog?
The dog car harness should be comfortable for the dog but not easy for him. If you have a little trickster who finds his way to wriggle out of the harness it would pose as a safety issue for your dog while you are driving. Find something that fits on your dog securely so that he cannot get out of it by himself.
Kurgo Dog Harness and PetSafe Solvit Deluxe are the best ones on this list in terms of crash tested designs. If you are buying one for a grown-up dog who has reached his maximum size knowing that you would be using this harness for several years to come then you can choose a crash-tested option. This is going to be slightly more expensive than the others but it would be a worthy investment for your dog.
Safety is definitely going to be your preliminary concern but do not compromise on your pet’s comfort. You definitely do not want your pet to get cranky due to any discomfort that his harness is causing. Discomfort could be from ill-fitting straps to chaffing on the skin from the vest. Therefore look for a harness that comes with soft padding on the vest. Another quick detail is the use of breathable mesh fabric in the padding. This ensures that your dog doesn’t feel too warm. For the fit having an ample number of adjustment buckles would help alter the fit perfectly both at the neck and chest regions.
I would not talk just about the price I would reiterate here that focusing on the value matters more. If you choose a harness with multiple features, and if it can last for several years while also keeping your dog comfortable, then it would be the best value for your money. Such a harness would be worth splurging on. I like Kurgo’s lifetime warranty option for this reason. This is one parameter that makes the harnesses from this brand a great value purchase.
Some harnesses are designed for walks and some are meant for use in the car alone. There are some that can be used both for your daily walks and for travel. There are car harnesses that are suitable for short walks and these are handy when you take your dog for a road trip where you halt several times. From my personal experience I would recommend having a dedicated walking harness and another safety harness exclusively for travels. This ensures that you do not have a worn out harness for your car rides. For your walks you can choose one that comes with an all-weather design and a reflective vest for added safety. And there are plenty of styles in walking harnesses like front and back clip, head halter and step-in harness. For the car harness on the other hand the ring for leash attachment is provided at the back.
Look At The Straps
Most people look at the vest and the comfort it offers and overlooks the strap design. Choose a harness where the straps and the vest are both wide. This can prevent chaffing and irritation for the dog.
Besides the harness there are additional accessories that come along. Some come with a standard sized car seat belt included. In this again there is the difference in terms of the length of the seat belt. Some of these bungees are elasticated while others come with a rigid strap with adjustable length. This determines how much far away from the tethered spot the dog can move. This also determines whether the dog would be held in a seated position or would be able to lie down when he wants to. Some harnesses come without the belt and have a tether that you can simply snap on to the seat belt in your car to hold your dog in place. These restrict the movement and hold the dog firmly in place. These are the ideal choices for protecting the dog during a crash.
Teach Your Dog To Accept His Harness
Harness training should be an integral part of training your dog. If you are using a strappy designed harness like the clip on or head halter harnesses the vest harness for cars might be slightly different to wear. Therefore the dog might initially take some time to get used to his harness. So, make sure that you pick the most suitable car harness and allow your dog to get used to it several days before you plan a trip. When the day finally arrives you would have a happy pet who doesn’t mind wearing his harness. Much like training the dog for the walking harness use treats to slowly get him accustomed to the car harness. Take him for several short drives before you venture with a long drive. When you are driving the car, have someone watch the dog and observe his behavior with the leash tethered to the seat. This would help you alter the fit and also choose suitable accessories based on your dog’s requirements and his behavior inside the car. It takes several days to understand how to make the most of your dog’s car harness. So read the reviews from the other pet parents to know about the nuances of any product before you place an order. This would ensure that you buy something that you can actually use.
Alternatives To A Car Harness
Dog harnesses are definitely some of the most convenient fuss-free solutions for car travel with your dogs. But this is not your only option when you choose to travel. Here are some of the other choices you can check out:
This is where you install a zip line above the back seat and then tether your dog’s leash to it. The leash could be connected to the dog’s collar or harness. This is not meant for the safety of the dog but more for his comfort. It gives him the full freedom of movement in the back seat.
Car seats for dogs
This is suitable for the smaller breeds which would not mind sitting in their cozy little spot for hours. This also acts like a booster seat which gives the pet a clearer view through the window. Car seats should be combined with dog seat belts for a safer driving experience. Look for seats that can be attached securely with the car seat.
These are some of the most popular choices for carrying dogs when they are pups and the adults in the smaller breeds. But most crates do not offer enough room for the dogs to move around or stretch. Therefore, if you use them you should make sure that you give your dogs frequent breaks.
I would still stick with my recommendation of using a harness which doubles up as a safe choice for the dog while keeping him comfortable and also a gear that gives the pet parent the confidence that the dog is safe.
I’ve put deep thoughts into various features, tried each one of these products and have recommended them all from my personal experience. Therefore you can be sure that the recommendations are coming from one pet parent to the fellow pet parents. My dog seemed to enjoy each of our trips with all these five harnesses on my list. But the Rabbitgoo Dog Harness is my personal favorite and my dog seems to love that one too.