By Emma Lachey
Choosing the best car harness for your dog is a difficult task, especially if you haven’t done so before. Dogs are all over the place when they’re in the car, barking at anything that moves, trying to get over onto your lap, and generally just attacking whatever they want. Of course, you have to think about it this way: dogs hear and feel everything quite a bit more than we do, so the car can be an intense experience for them.
But how can you go about choosing the best car harness for your dog? With so many on the market and so many different pieces of information out there, how can you make the choice that is best for you and your dog?
Here are some great tips:
Read the Requirements of the Car Harness
Just like with humans, there is a great amount of variety in the size, shape, weight, and strength of dogs. You need to know what the requirements of the harness are – for example, some won’t work well with dogs that are big whereas others won’t work on dogs that have sensitive tracheas, like Pomeranians.
Some of the things you want to pay attention to include:
- Weight limits
- Height limit
- Health requirements
- Physical fitness requirements
Type of Dog Harnesses
There are a few different types of dog harness that you might want to consider before making your purchase. The first is a more bare-bones approach to the dog harness– simply straps that look quite a bit like the harness that you use when you walk your dog. This is typically the most cost-effective and OK for short trips. However, if you plan on going on longer trips, you want to buy the type of harness that has a softer bottom. This will be more comfortable for dogs of all sizes and shapes.
Another option is to get a harness attachment that will connect to the back of the harness that you traditionally use. In most cases, this isn’t recommended because a harness that is effective when walking isn’t as strong as one that is designed specifically for use in the car.
Of course, you can find dog harnesses in different colors, patterns, and styles. Typically, there isn’t much difference to the harnesses in this way. You might want to consider your seats, as reds and darker colors may leave a mark on your seats when your dog does move around.
Read the Reviews
The most important thing to do is buy a high quality, rated, crash tested dog harness. In order to do this, you want to read the different reviews that are out there on the different harnesses. You want to try to find someone who has tested the harness with a dog that is similar to your own. If you have a Chihuahua, you don’t want to read the reviews for a harness when someone tested it with a Pitbull.
Once you have read the reviews and compared them to your own dog, then you can make the purchase.
Watch Your Dog When He Is In the Harness
After purchasing, you want to watch your dog as he uses the harness. It is very important that you monitor his breathing and comfort with the harness. Is he able to move around a little bit but not too much? Can he breathe while wearing the harness? Is it short enough to impair movement? All of these matter when it comes to your dog wearing the harness while the car is in motion.
Note that it might take some time to get used to the harness. Don’t judge based on the first trip unless it is unsafe for your dog to remain in the harness.
When To Use a Dog Harness
The short answer to “When should I use a dog harness?” is a simple one– whenever you are in a car and it is moving. A dog harness keeps not only your pet healthy and safe, it does the same for you. A loose dog can be a distraction or block access to vehicle controls.
One time you shouldn’t use the dog harness is when you believe that your dog is having breathing problems or may be injured. Using a dog harness may only make the situation worse. In this case, it is best to have someone in the back of the car holding your dog or at least using a different kind of dog car seat.
Getting Your Dog Used to a Car Harness
Getting your dog used to a car harness is similar to getting him used to a walking harness – at first, he probably won’t like it. Make sure that you use treats and positive reinforcements the entire time you are acquainting your dog with the harness.
If your dog loses a lot of weight, gets a significant haircut, or has surgery, you may want to refit the harness so that it isn’t pulling in the wrong direction.
Using a dog harness is an essential part of keeping your dog safe in the car. Even more importantly, it will help you to stay safe as well. It might take some time, but it will be worth it if you are ever involved in a car accident while your dog is riding with you.