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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dog-Safe Travel, Around Town and on the Highway, Part III of III

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

© Carrie Boyko
Even with Back Seats Upright
Tanner has Plenty of Space to Lie Down
 My friends at Pet Auto Safety have helped me provide Tanner a safe way to travel in my newer vehicle--a Prius. While traveling with passengers in the backseat, I had to find a way to secure Tanner safety, without the room for a large dog crate in back. I needed another solution. 

Since I'm fortunate enough not to need my back seats very often, I generally opt to fold them over to give Tanner some extra room, while allowing me additional cargo area as well. Folding the seats down also helps to keep the seats clean, so that when I do need them, I won't be embarrassed by a ton of dog fur.  Tanner enjoys the extra space too :)

In the back of my vehicle, there are a couple of loops intended for baggage tie down. They are perfect for attaching the crash-tested seatbelt that Tanner now wears in the car. As of the day I purchased it, it was still the only model on the market that has successfully passed crash testing, just like our human seat belts. Admittedly, he looks like he's ready for a parachute jump, but he doesn't know that, so don't tell him.

When Tanner's new seat belt system arrived, I allowed him to get acquainted with it before putting it on him. He sniffed, inspected and decided it was nothing more than a fancy harness (he was right!) and that was that. I'd like to think that my matter-of-fact attitude helped him realize this was nothing to be feared. Tanner has a typical harness that we have used for agility training, biking, and other purposes over the years. He's used to the idea of wearing things--even a backpack. That probably helped us, as there was virtually no adjustment period.

When it was time to put the harness on, I laid it out and found the neck opening, grasping it carefully. I called him to me, requested a SIT, and matter-of-factly placed the harness over his head. He stood to allow me to buckle it, clearly signaling he had no anxiety over this new harness. After all, it was merely a sturdier version of his other one.

My only surprise was that the buckles are as strong and secure as our human seatbelt buckles are. That loud click sent me a clear message: Tanner will be safe in this seatbelt. I liked that.

© Carrie Boyko
Back Seat Travel, Safe and Secure
The strapping mechanism comes with flexibility built right in. You can strap your dog to baggage tie-downs, or place him on a seat and hook the strap right to the seatbelt. You can even place the existing car seatbelt through the back of his harness for extra protection.  Each option gives you different possibilities for movement, as does the adjustment of the strapping. 

I learned that some dogs require more freedom of movement for safety, while others need added security and a position with less movement. It's important to read the documentation to evaluate your dog's needs and adjust the strapping to meet them.

© Carrie Boyko
Trial Run
Before taking Tanner on his first ride, I had measured and estimated the length I desired in the seatbelt strap. This determines how much movement he has, and allows me to keep him clear of the front seat area, to avoid impact with the seat backs in a collision. 

When Tanner hopped into the back of the car, I called him to me and attached the strap to the mega-tough loop on his harness, then clicked the belt onto the adapter for the baggage tie-down.  Before I got myself seat-belted in, he had already determined his boundaries, as established by the belt. He assumed a down position, looking out the rear window of my Prius, and off we went, happily visiting the bank and a dog park. This was the ultimate reward for Tanner's quick-adjustment to his new safety equipment. Way to go Tanner!
© Carrie Boyko
Off-Leash Play
The Best Way to End a Day


Nature by Dawn said...

Tanner looks comfortable in his dog seatbelt and so darned cute in that red scarf!!!

Blogsmith? said...

I recently bought these for my dogs, as the harnesses are available in Australia. I'm finding that it is very easy for the harness to be pulled sideways. If I do it up even tighter it can still move a bit and feels too tight under their "arms". Any suggestions, because it's a bit frustrating that the only harness in the world that seems to be safe doesn't quite sit as practically as other models I have used (too much movement in the cross-over straps). Also, are you sure that you cargo ring is OK to carry the weight? I read somewhere that mine shouldn't restrain more than 20 kg, so I've been use a system of hooking them up to the seatbelts. Thanks.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

My Golden Retriever occasionally pulls the harness to the side, as well. I found that if I put it on upside down, with the loop on his chest, this doesn't happen. When I asked a dealer about this, I learned that this seemed to be an acceptable way to use the seatbelt.

My cargo rings are heavy duty enough for my dog, but I am sure each car manufacturer and model may use various strengths. Check with your auto manufacturer about the kg. capacity for your vehicle. Best wishes.

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