By Dawn Ross, October 2015
Do you have a dog that refuses to wear his pet car harness? Is your dog too big to fit in a crate in your small car? Without a dog car harness or pet travel carrier, how can your dog ride in the car without being a distraction? We know of a few alternatives so let us tell you about them.
The most basic way to keep your dog from being a distraction is with a pet car barrier. There are various kinds of barriers such as ones made of netting, cloth, or metal. Find out more in our article on How to Keep Your Dog from Distracting You. For those of you living in a state with pet restraint laws, you will need to check with law enforcement authorities about whether a pet car barrier counts as a pet restraint. And for those of you wanting something crash tested, check with 4x4NorthAmerica.com. Their products, including the barriers, are German engineered and crash tested for various crash test scenarios.
K9 CAR FENCE
This is an interesting product that can be used for big dogs as well as small ones. And it can be used in either the front or the back seat (although we do not recommend dogs in the front seat because air bags are not safe for them). When we had the opportunity to use this product (that's our dog pictured above), it worked very well. It was a bit of a challenge to set up, but this was when the product was new. The manufacturer has since redesigned the K9 Car Fence for easier installation. The website for this product says it is crash tested, but the details on this crash testing is very limited. We will hopefully find out more for you on this in the future.
This product is for smaller dogs. It is a car seat that closes shut when the car is in a frontal car crash. The Pup Saver also claims crash testing, though when the Pup Saver was tested by the Center for Pet Safety one of the plastic buckles broke. Hopefully, the manufacturer of this product will redesign the Pup Saver soon with more durable buckles. It should be noted that the product was only tested for frontal car crashes at 30 miles per hour. Also, the product has a clasp that attaches to your dog’s collar, but we recommend attaching it to a crash tested dog car harness instead if at all possible. A simple sideways emergency car maneuver might not activate the Pup Saver and yank forcefully on your dog’s neck instead. Be careful about using this product in the front seat because front passenger side airbags may not be safe for dogs.
CAR-GO POP-UP SHELTER from Sturdi Products
This product is like a soft-sided carrier. It is big enough for large dogs but is easier to use in a small car than a large hard-plastic pet travel crate would be. The Car-Go Pop-Up Shelter comes in two sizes: a smaller size that takes up about half of the back seat of your car, or the larger size that takes up the full back seat of your car. Either size can also be used in the cargo area of your SUV. Although the Pop-Up Shelter utilizes the seat belt of the car in order to stay in place, I did not see any crash testing information.
PET EGO PET TUBE
This product is similar to the Pop-Up Shelter from Sturdi Products. One difference is that instead of coming in two sizes, the Pet Ego Pet Tube comes in one size that can be adjusted into one of three sizes. We did not see any crash testing information for this product either.
PET CAR SEATS
A pet car seat isn’t really an alternative to a dog seat belt because your dog should be secured in the pet car seat with a crash tested dog car harness. The Center for Pet Safety report mentioned earlier found that the tethers in the pet car seats they tested broke in the study. So we recommend that you use a crash tested dog car harness as required by the manufacturer and use the car seat as simply a cushion of sorts. For example, with the Snoozer Lookout car seats don’t use the tether that comes with the car seat. Use the tether that comes with the AllSafe dog car harness instead and attach the tether to the seat belt of the car as per Allsafe’s instructions.
More choices with safer options are being introduced all the time. So if you’re reading this article after 2015, check to see if we have any new updated articles. You can check our pet travel Articles & News page or visit our Pet Auto Safety Blog.
Note from Author: Some products may have improved since this article was written in October 2015. We have not listed all the alternative products for pet car travel but only because we are not aware of all the options. The ones in this article are the ones we are most familiar with. Any opinions stated are our own. If crash testing is mentioned, we have indicated where that information came from. We have not done crash testing ourselves and so cannot confirm results.