Pet Restraints

Published on: 01/19/16 5:35 PM

Driving with Pets: An Overview of Dog Car Seats & Safety Restraints


Many people love taking a drive with their dog, and many dogs love taking a drive with their humans.

However, traveling with pets that are unrestrained can lead to major distractions inside the car, which can result in accidents and other road incidents. Also, in the case of an accident, a “loose” animal can be moved around the cabin unpredictably, proving dangerous to not only the animal, but the humans in the car as well. The best way to keep your furry family members safe in the car is by using a pet restraint of some kind.

Different Types of Pet Restraints

Currently, there are a variety of different types of pet restraints available for use in consumer vehicles.

  • Type One: The primary function of these pet safety products is to prevent the animal from acting as a distraction or a danger by confining them to the rear area of the car.
    • Harnesses & Collar Attachments: at the more minimalist end of the spectrum, these products essentially act as a dog seat belt, securing them to a seat.
    • Car Barriers: Crafted from either cloth, mesh, or a more solid material, these are similar to a room divider that can be installed between rows of seats or in the cargo area.
  • Type Two: These types of pet safety products focus on securing the dog in a more contained space, limiting the danger they could present by preventing unnecessary movements.
    • Dog Car Seats: These products function similarly to car seats for children. The dog is secured by a harness, but instead of being connected to the car’s primary safety belt, the harness is connected to a separate booster seat, which is usually elevated.
    • Car Carriers: In this type of pet restraint, the animal is typically confined within a closed container, often made of fabric or mesh. The carrier is then secured to the seat back.
  • Type Three: Usually designed for larger pets, these types of pet restraints are designed to contain the animal in a specific area of the car.
    • Pet Travel Crates: as the name suggests, these are metal or plastic crates that fully contain the animal and are typically tethered to the floor with anchor straps.

Pet Car Seats: Evaluating “Crash-Tested” Crates & Carriers

When looking for a way to practice safety while traveling with pets, it can be easy to assume that most products are designed to protect your dog in case of a crash or accident. However, that’s not the case.

The two governmental bodies primarily responsible for overseeing crash and safety testing for consumer vehicles—the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission—do not handle product testing for pet safety. There are currently no government standards or government-sanctioned tests in place for pet safety restraints in vehicles.

The Center for Pet Safety (CPS), in partnership with Subaru, recently released the findings of its annual “Crate and Carrier Study”, which discovered that an alarming majority of pet restraints, carriers, and crates (some listed as “crash-tested” or with similar language, some not) failed impact and crash tests. Covering a variety of products from hard and soft shell carriers to plastic and wire crates, the CPS study found that 25 of the 29 products tested failed.

Shopping for Pet Restraints

If you are in the market for a new dog car seat, carrier, or crate, make sure to do your research. The product you select should be appropriate for your pet’s needs, as most products are marked with height and weight range recommendations. If you want a product that is more likely to keep your pet safe in case of an accident, double check “crash-tested” claims with third-party organizations like the CPS.

While unrestrained pets can present serious dangers to themselves and other car passengers, if you take the right steps to secure them, there’s no reason that your pet can’t travel with you and enjoy the ride, all while remaining safe and secure. Don’t forget, we can help you with our consumer roadside assistance plans.