How safe are dog car travel harnesses?

Last year, we heard that 100% of dog car harnesses were failing safety tests.  The Center for Pet Safety is quoted as saying,”We tested them to the child safety restraint standard and we experienced a 100-percent failure rate to protect either the consumer or the dog”.

It’s a concerning claim. Many pet owners put their dogs on a harness because they want them to be safe during an accident, and yet it seems that harnesses won’t achieve these aims. So what’s a pet owner to do?

Golden retriever puppy in back seat of car.


Center of Pet Safety Study

Firstly, have a look at the CPS’s study.  A complete summary of CPS’s investigation can be read on this PDF, but the research methods are best summarised by this flowchart:

Click to see PDF source.

Click to see PDF source.

So, firstly, they only tested harnesses that claimed to be tested, or claimed to offer crash protection.

Then, they did ‘quasi static testing’, which is basically they pulled on the harness attachment really hard for a sustained period to see if the harness survived or not. (Watch a video of the quasi static test.)

The following products did not pass the quasi static testing:

  • USA K-9 Outfitters; Champion.
  • In the Company of Animals; Clix.
  • Coastal; EZ-Rider.
  • Snoozer; Pet Safety Harness and Adapter.

It is only if the product passed both of those initial stages that they proceeded to crash testing.

In the same PDF, a nifty little flow chart is displayed – and ultimately it lists the harness, from left to right, as best to worst (of those tested).

Crash test harness results.

So, basically, the testing concluded that the ‘best’ harness (of those tested) was the Sleepypod Clickit Utility.

A complete analysis is available on page 10 of the results.

You can find out more about the Sleepypod Clickit harness from the Sleepypod website.


NRMA Insurance Test

From my research, the only other test I can find was performed by NRMA Insurance, and yielded not dissimilar results: The Sleepypod Clickit Harness was rated on the top, and the Purina Roadie Harness was second.  NRMA Insurance tested 25 harnesses, and only the above two passed. That is, 92% of harnesses failed. You can read NRMA’s brief press release: Paws and Secure Your Puppy


But harnesses are still better than nothing…

I would like to warn against ‘giving up’ on harnesses, because most of the harnesses do stop dogs become a projectile, and injuring people in the car. Little comfort, but please do restrain your pets.

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 8.46.34 AM


My choice

Personally, I have had trouble with harnesses in the car. Any of my dogs that I have tried them on walk around and around in circles, twisting up their limbs in their harness, and looking miserable and uncomfortable.

After reading the two studies above, I am glad I made the choice to crate my dogs in the car. The crates are secured in my car with tie downs to anchor points. I am very happy with my choice, and feel that it is probably the safest option for car travel, especially in light of this study.

Our next blog post will look into ways you can advocate for better harnesses.


Further reading: Pet Auto Safety Blog

4 thoughts on “How safe are dog car travel harnesses?

  1. Great article!!! I was so happy when the CPS report came out. This report forced those who claimed testing but turned out they didn’t meet quality standards to either stop selling their product or to improve their product. Snoozer, for example, is no longer selling their car harnesses.

    I agree with you about some harnesses causing problems with twisting and with dogs getting their limbs caught. The new top rated ClickIt Utility from Sleepypod may be safe, but it is highly restrictive and not all dogs will tolerate it. My Labrador Maya struggles against it.

    Unfortunately, my two dogs are too big and my car is too small to use a crate. But you know, crates haven’t been crash tested either. Plus, they need to be secured in the car too.

  2. Your article was great. I really enjoyed it. I also did an article about car safety. At first I thought a harness is a harness, but I wanted to do some research before posting. Boy was I was surprised! Not all are equal. I also recommended the Sleepypod products.

  3. I absolutely agree about the importance of protecting/restraining your dog in the car. You don’t want flying objects to worry about if you are in an accident or even have to stop suddenly. It’s for the protection of all the humans and canines.

    One of our three dachshunds was a Houdini when we tried a seat belt on him – he has never met a harness he cannot wriggle out of. So now we crate in the car. Didn’t like it originally, but it is far safer. They are crated at home when we are out, so crates are not a new experience for them. Throw in a bone or toy to keep them occupied and they will settle down.

  4. Interesting article and best way to do solve the non-speakable pets problems. Safe dog travel in the car is a hot topic these days among the many dog owners and good news now so many offers the harness specifically for the cars that provide much safety to your pets. Dog car seats and booster seats are similar to car harnesses but these designed for small dogs and we have big dog but I agreed with this point harness is better than nothing. Thanks for sharing this informative read.

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