Every time you get into your car, the first thing you do is buckle up. It’s not only the law; it’s also for your safety. And while seatbelts are specially designed to help keep us comfortable and safe, they don’t seem to readily configure to your dog’s body. And so, dogs don’t usually buckle up. Instead, they might just sit in the back seat, or hang out the window and let the wind blow in their faces, and in some cases, they might even sit on your lap.
The problem with this is that a loose dog can move around in the vehicle and do whatever they want. They might see something exciting and rush to the window, possibly blocking your view. They might get down on the floorboards or interfere with your steering, and they can even become a projectile if you get hit, turn, or stop too fast. A loose dog isn’t safe for either of you.
Having a dog distract you while you’re driving is perhaps one of the most dangerous scenarios and can even cause accidents. While your dog is loose in the vehicle, it can be irresistible to take a second to pet them, give them a treat, or divert your eyes just to check on what they’re doing at the moment (hopefully not chewing on the seat). Though you may not notice it, turning your attention away, especially your eyes often makes your brain tell your body, and thus your will, to move in that direction, resulting in merging into another lane or onto the road’s shoulder.
Not a place for a lap dog
For many dog lovers, having your dog enjoy the comfort and closeness of sitting on your lap seems like the caring thing to do. But sitting on your lap is one of the biggest concerns for road safety. Smaller dogs may seem cute and comfortable relaxing there, but it can become physically distracting, and even dangerous if you’re in an accident. Though smaller dogs don’t seem like they’d interfere with steering or even the operation of the vehicle, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that they won’t do something radically different, like jumping on the steering wheel or climbing down towards the throttle or brake pedal.
In an accident, a dog on your lap could be seriously injured and hurt you as well. Many new vehicles utilize airbags, which are sensitive to impact. Even if you’re in a small accident, the airbag could deploy and seriously injure both of you.
A moving dog
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of an unbuckled dog is that they can become a danger to others in an accident. Just like a person, a dog would continue to move at the same speed of the vehicle in an accident scenario. In a sudden stop from as little as 35 mph, anything unsecured could be thrown from a vehicle, causing injury to anyone in the path. Because there’s no telling when or where an accident might happen, it’s best to never take a chance with you or anyone else’s safety.
Harnesses come in little variety, but have their innovative ideas that make buckling up easier and more comfortable for your dog.
• Kurgo’s Trufit Smart Harness: This harness has padded straps for added comfort and latches into the vehicle’s standard seatbelt system.
• Kurgo’s other product, the Auto Zipline, can be turned into a seatbelt by attaching the zipline to any two stationary points in the vehicle.
• American Tourister also has their own safety harness, using padded mesh to keep your dog comfortable and safe.
• Top Paw’s harness features an auxiliary tether, for added safety and stability.
• Pet Buckle is another maker that appeals with a fully padded cross harness.
Some manufactures use harnesses that aren’t padded, and might do their job, but won’t be as comfortable for your dog, which means they may not like being in it. But the great thing about a seatbelt harness is that they can double as a leash harness, so when you get to the park, you can just unbuckle and start having fun.
So the next time you get ready to go down to the park or over to a friend’s house for a doggy date, make sure that everyone buckles up. With a comfortable harness that fits properly, your pup can buckle up just like the rest of the family and stay just as safe. And remember, the best way to stay safe is to prevent any accidents from happening by buckling your pup up!