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How To Keep Your Dog Safe And Secure In The Car

How To Keep Your Dog Safe And Secure In The Car

We purchased all of the products mentioned in this post at full price and did not receive any sort of discount in exchange for a review. We’re providing our honest review of products we use in our everyday life.

We love to travel and explore new places – but the first part of any adventure is getting there. If you travel with dogs or other pets, you know this to be especially true.

So much thought goes into packing for all of their needs and making sure all of the necessary details are covered can be exhausting. Anything that lowers or eliminates some of these stressors is definitely a win.

If you’re traveling by car, one of the questions you’ve most likely asked yourself is, “How do we keep our pups safe and secure while we drive to our destination?”

There are many schools of thought when it comes to securing pets in vehicles, and we’ve experimented with a few in our time traveling with our pups. When they were both young, we kept them in the backseat, unsecured. However, if you know our dogs, you know that their energy levels usually have them busting at the seams, so they would constantly pace around in the backseat.

Raleigh even liked to place her front paws on the center console, which is incredibly dangerous for two reasons: 1) If we had to brake suddenly she would likely go flying into the front seat or windshield, and 2) It was distracting for the driver to constantly be trying to get her off the console.

We quickly realized that this method was not going to work, as we wanted to secure our dogs better to ensure optimal safety for the whole family.

Our next thought was to kennel them while in the car, however that was difficult as well, because based on their size (and therefore the size of their kennels) we had to fold down the backseat to accommodate the two kennels. The backseat of our Ford Escape doesn’t fold entirely flat either, so their kennels weren’t very secure and they would still slide around. They also looked downright uncomfortable.

Enter the Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness by Kurgo. I had never tried any sort of dog car harness before, but had heard only positive things about Kurgo, so we thought we’d give them a try. We purchased one harness for each of our dogs – a medium for Raleigh and a large for Iggy, although they have sizes ranging from extra-small to  extra-large, as well as a sizing table if you’re not sure what size your pup should be. Each harness costs approximately $45.

A red dog harness, attached to a buckled seat belt in the backseat of a car, resting on a gray car seat.

The harness itself is made of a strong material, with solid-feeling metal buckles. Over two years of use, they have not shown any signs of wear and tear, and have proven incredibly reliable. It is adjustable, and includes an alternate location for the abdominal section of the harness to tune it precisely to your dog’s shape.

A red dog safety harness, resting on the concrete pavement.

We first put the harnesses on in the house (unsecured to anything) prior to using in the car to help our dogs get used to the feeling of having the harness on. Both were relatively comfortable with the harnesses from the beginning – the biggest hurdle was acclimating them to being attached to the seat belt in the car.

A shepherd dog wearing a red safety harness, sitting on concrete.
The harness can be worn outside of the car too. Just unclip the carabiner and go!

The harness attaches via a carabiner clip to the actual seat belt in the backseat, which is buckled and locked to restrict movement. The dog is then buckled into the harness facing forward in a seated position.

There are other types of doggy seat belts that will actually buckle into the seat belt buckle in the car. We like the Kurgo design better though, because securing them to the upper restraint of the seatbelt itself means that our dogs are able to stand, sit, or lie down without compromising the safety. We want them to be safe and secure, but we also don’t want to force them to stay in one potentially uncomfortable position for several hours at a time.

While the idea of restricting movement may seem like something that would bother pups, neither of ours mind it! In fact, Raleigh now eagerly climbs into the car, sits, and faces forward so she can be buckled in. Iggy is a little less enthusiastic about it, but neither of them fight it at all.

A shepherd dog wearing a red safety harness, sitting in the back seat of a car, facing forward and buckled in.
Raleigh instinctively jumps in the car and sits facing forward, waiting to be buckled in.

Their behavior in the car seems to indicate that they prefer the feeling of security that the harnesses bring – no dog enjoys being thrown around like a pinball while on a bumpy road.

There are other advantages to keeping dogs secured in the car that go beyond just protecting them in the event of an accident. With the harnesses, you can keep the dogs secured in the car while you’re loading or unloading the car, pumping gas, or doing whatever it is that you need to do. Having your dog secured means you can go about your business without worrying that your dog will jump out of the car, find its way into the trunk, or decide that your gear shifter is a chew toy.

We are so thankful we decided to purchase these harnesses – there have been plenty of times where they have come in handy!

The total cost for us to purchase both harnesses came to about $90.00, and it has been SO worth it. We’ve now had these harnesses for years, and taken many road trips (including one all the way from Minnesota to Florida when Iggy competed at Dock Diving Nationals) with our pups comfortably and safely secured by the harnesses. It makes driving with our dogs that much less stressful, and truly increases safety for our entire family.

How do you keep your dogs safe in the car? What has worked best for you?

This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. I do not drive and only use public transport so when I travel with Layla she is in her backpack which is secure on my back and she loves it. Even if I did get into a car with her I would use the back pack as it is safer than her being free to roam in the car and will not buy a harness for a once a year trip.

  2. I love Kurgo products and have used these harnesses. I sometimes clip my dog in on longer trips – but he’s good about staying in his bumper seat in the back seat. Also, one of the reasons I bought my Soul was because the back seats folded down flat – more room for dog stuff.

    1. That’s awesome! Tried as we might we couldn’t get our pups to stay in their seats safely, so we buckle them into their harnesses now and it works very well.

  3. Thanks for the review on the Kurgo safety harness. I have been looking for something to secure our pup in the back seat. Like your pups, ours likes to hang out between the two front seats which is not safe.

    Happyoodles

  4. I understand the danger of leaving your dog loose in the car but I’m also unsure of how those harnesses affect joints, especially upon restraint. I’ve read things I don’t like about them and I don’t use Bella’s any longer.

    1. That’s understandable! There isn’t a lot of info available on how the harnesses affect joints (that I could find when initially researching which harnesses we would purchase), however our pups are so energetic we feel it best to keep them secure.

  5. Kilo has a Kurgo harness for car trips. He is always in the back seat like a kid because of his size and the danger of being loose in the front. He likes to put his paws on the central console too as he can see us and where we are going. I secure him so he can still just reach it but he won’t go torpedoing through the windscreen if we stop (I was in a car accident as a kid and that happened to my friend sitting next to me without a seat belt- horrible).

    1. Oh yes, that’s so terrible! We definitely never want that to happen, so we also have our pups secured in the backseat.

  6. I bought a similar harness for my dog, and I think my dog is a lot safer than having free range of the car. However, I was disappointed to learn that it was not crash-tested. I am hoping to buy a safer version soon.

    1. Luckily the Kurgo harnesses are crash tested for dogs weighing up to 75 lbs! That was something we took into consideration as well when deciding which harness to purchase. The Crash Test Report is even available on the Kurgo website!

  7. These Kurgo harnesses look really nice! It’s great to know that you have had them for so long and they are still looking so new. My kitties would not do so well in harnesses in the car, so they use Sleepypod carriers. It is so important to know that your pets are well protected while they are in your car!

    1. I’ve heard Sleepypod carriers work very well in the car for cats! And we completely agree, it is so important for our pets to be secured!

  8. I am sure that any dog lover needs the maximum amount of information before they decide on something like this. I have seen cars with dogs loose inside (and cats too) and I dread the time a paw gets stuck under the brake or in the way of an indicator lever.

    People NEED a harness if they take a dog in a car!

    1. I know the harnesses have been so helpful for us! With active pups that move around a lot it’s definitely safer for drivers and pets for them to be secured.

  9. We used to sell a ton of these in the store I managed. Kurgo is a great brand. I have a popup shelter that belts in the backseat to secure my travel buddies in. It worked awesome in my SUV and mini van but now that I’m driving a compact it’s wider than the seats. So far it hasn’t been a big deal since we pack the car to the gills anyhow-the coolers and other stuff holds up the couple inches that flap off the edge of the seat.

    1. We love Kurgo! These harnesses have been really helpful in securing our pups when we travel. The popup shelters are also good ways to keep pets secure as well!

    1. They are! That’s part of the reason I selected them for our pups. They’re crash-tested for dogs up to 75 lbs., and the Crash Test Report is available on the Kurgo website!

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