3 min read
Seatbelts And Car Restraints for Your Dog
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/03/2017, edited: 08/10/2021
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From time to time, we must all put our pets in the car for one reason or another, be it to ensure they get to an appointment with the vet, or to just take them out for a walk in the park. Whatever the reason, safety can sometimes be a concern, with the dog’s trying to move around the passenger cabin at random as well as being at risk of slipping or falling about as the vehicle turns and changes speed. However, just as there are seatbelts to keep humans in their proper positions within a car, so too are there restraints for dogs which will restrict their movements. Additionally, in the event of a crash, a seat belt can mean the difference between life and death.
The first (and most common) type of restraints available for you to secure your dog inside your vehicle are simple dividing screens that can separate the driver from the animal. This is extremely important if the dog in question has a particularly energetic personality, as they may frequently try to physically engage with the driver, potentially putting all occupants’ safety at risk. Thus, a screen can be used to keep them held in the rear portion of the car. Some screens can be rigid and made of plastic or metal, but it may be more suitable for you to get one made of tough nylon straps, which will not pose a hazard to the dog should they fall against it. Such dividers will commonly attach to the seats themselves, rather than being secured to the frame of the car (as is seen in many emergency vehicles), meaning that it may be more convenient for you to opt for a screen that keeps the dog confined behind the rear seats, as adjusting the front seats can have an impact on the fit of the device. A divider can also greatly improve safety in the event of a crash by preventing the dog from being thrown around the interior of the vehicle. This will both lessen their chances of incurring a serious injury, and keep the other passengers safe from being hit.
The second method for securing a dog inside a car is commonly referred to as a ‘seatbelt’. However, you should be aware that using the car’s normal seatbelts to restrain a dog can result in serious injuries to the animal in the event of a collision, as they are designed specifically with a human’s anatomy in mind. Instead, if a dog is wearing a body harness (such as one a working dog may wear to give its handler better control) then it is possible to obtain a ‘seatbelt’ device which can be clipped onto the rig before being plugged into the normal car seat belt socket. This short tether will keep the dog attached to their seat and prevent them from jumping around the interior of the vehicle and distracting the driver. Furthermore, the device will hold them in place in the event of an accident, stopping them from being flung across the cabin and harming themselves or the other occupants of the car. It is important to note that unlike a regular seat belt, the harness that the device clips onto will evenly distribute the forces generated by a crash across the dog’s body, minimizing the chances of them being seriously hurt. Although they may suffer some bruising and other minor injuries, they will avoid the kind of damage to their ribs and airway that is commonly inflicted on animals restrained by regular seatbelts.
Ensuring that your dog is properly secured during travel is incredibly important. While many animals are not boisterous enough to cause a distraction to the driver, they can still be put at risk by things such as sudden stops, sharp turns and especially collisions. By making certain that your dog has an adequate level of protection, you can avoid easily preventable injuries that can impact on your pet’s quality of life. Additionally, negative experiences can strongly affect a dog’s perception of road travel, making it even harder to convince them to get in a car and remain calm once you are underway. Thus, it is common sense to seek out some kind of restraining device. You should keep in mind that while there are many products on the market, only a small number have been rated as fit for purpose by road safety advisory bodies. By doing the necessary research, you can be sure that the product you choose will provide a good level of protection for both you and your dog.