This summer has been jam packed with all that is dog for me. It’s actually weird when I DON’T have a dog in the car anymore. My dogs are small and one hard break causes them to fall off the seat. If I had big dogs, I would be afraid of their knees and hips as well. I know nothing is 100% but I never let me dogs ride in the car without a seatbelt. I also never let the fosters I’ve picked up ride with out one…they always borrow one of mine :).
Like I said seatbelts don’t guarantee my dog’s safety, but as least I try to keep them as safe as I can. This year, I learned that my old seatbelts were not crash test rated, and thus I bought all new seatbelts that were. The brand I purchased is Kurgo. I really like this company and the harness. The harness has nested buckles instead of the traditional clip. The traditional clip and easily crack and come apart during a crash, the nested buckles are metal and have a much lower chance of coming undone.
The Kurgo harness comes with a mountain clip to attach your dog to the car’s belt. It is important to not use just any clip because there are different ones for different weights. You simply buckle the car seat belt and then attach the clip to the harness and the belt.
My smallest dog can still reach the window and put his head out comfortably this way. I always clip to the shoulder part instead of the lap part so that they can see out the window. This is the safest way to use the clip. If you slam on your breaks the car belt will lock out like it would if there was a human sitting back there and thus your dog could only jolt forward.
However, some dogs don’t like to be so confined and will chew on their harness or worse your car belt -_-. The seat belt comes with an extra attachment. It is essentially a handle to a leash. You would put the car belt through the attachment and then attach the clip to the attachment and the harness. The dog has a little more space but it is much harder for them to put their heads out of the window if they are small. The other option is to purchase a second clip. You then attach one clip on each end of the attachment and then one clip to your buckled car belt, and one to the harness. These alternative ways are not the best practices way but still help protect your dog.
Most of my dogs and fosters get the hang of the seatbelt quickly and have no problem. Peter, the poodle, did not like the seatbelt that much and would constantly chew on both the seat belt and the car belt. To teach him not to, I rode passenger and every time he went to chew I would tell him no. As long as he stopped chewing I let him sit or walk around as he could. When working with my fosters, I had them sit up front so I could watch while driving, and would tell them no as well. I also bring a toy for them to chew on to redirect the chewing when it is new. The other thing that is important is to just take them up the rode or around the corner so that they just get more used to it. If the car ride is a thing of very few occurrences their excitement is going to sky rocket every time.
The Kurgo seatbelt can also act as a walking harness. Woody wears his for walking every day. He has not gotten any rash from this harness and it fits well.