I was sitting at the traffics lights the other day and a van pulled up along side me, to my delight a British Bulldog was sitting in the front seat (a Spike look-a-like) with the window down and he very kindly put his head out for me and gave me a big grin, (the bulldog not the driver), however I then realised that he had no CAR HARNESS on and no restraint, so it got me thinking, what are the actual laws in the UK for DOG CAR TRAVEL? After doing a little research on it I was quite frankly amazed that they are not more stringent.
The only thing that I could find quoted is by the Highway Code, rules about animals (47 to 58) (www.gov.uk/rules-about-animals-56-58-3), are as follows: When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving, or injure you, or them if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage are ways of restraining animals in cars.
I would have thought in this health and safety day and age that there would have been far more rules in place, not just to protect the driver but also the dog or any other animals that might have to travel too. Over the years due to our travelling lifestyle we have got used to clocking the miles up with the dogs but we never take safety for granted and therefore I think that some sort of restraint is a must, whether that is a dog guard, cage or a HARNESS. Obviously crash tested cages are the best method for restraining your dog and protecting occupants of the vehicle but these can be very cost prohibitive. Because we specialise in harnesses we have suggested 2 of the best we can find on the market.
The first is made by RUFFWEAR and it's called the LOAD-UP HARNESS, which is specifically designed as a VEHICLE TRAVEL HARNESS and it has been CRASH TESTED to withstand the impact of a car accident. It has a THICK PADDED CHEST PLATE to provide the EXTRA CHEST SUPPORT that your dog would need in the event of an accident. It ATTACHES TO THE EXISTING SEAT BELT so another strap is not required. As a HARNESS goes it is quite expensive but as with all things RUFFWEAR they are built to last, also bearing in mind you wouldn't penny pinch on a car seat for your child, so why your dog? Cocoa has been testing this one out for a while and it certainly looks smart while supporting her chest perfectly, in fact it is a really good fit, something RUFFWEAR are very good at. She is comfortable in it and it prevents her from moving around the vehicle, I would also have high hopes that due to her weight of 33lbs she would survive a 30mph crash. For more information and videos of how the LOAD-UP HARNESS was tested follow this link - RUFFWEAR LOAD-UP HARNESS
My second choice is KURGO'S TRU-FIT SMART HARNESS, which is a cheaper alternative to RUFFWEAR'S LOAD-UP HARNESS but works in the same way with a broad padded chest plate and has also been crash tested. It is very easy to put on as it slips over the dogs head and clips around the belly. It has a SEAT BELT connector included for easy attachment. This is the version that Spike has been testing for a while now and he seems extremely happy in it on long and short journeys, it's not rubbing behind his legs and the padded plate certainly supports his large chest, so I think that's a paws up from Spike but check them out for yourselves. -
There are no perfect solutions for restraining your dog in a vehicle but certainly anything is better than nothing. The harnesses that have been crash tested are likely to be considerably better in the event of an accident than a harness that has not be specifically developed for that purpose or had any testing carried out. It should also be noted that generally the crash tested harnesses are tested up to a weight limit, these weights vary and you should ensure the harness is suitable for the weight of your dog before purchasing.
Another very important reason for restraining your dog in a vehicle is that they often move around the vehicle, even moving from the back to the front, this has to be a major distraction for the driver and has to be dangerous so a harness would be perfectly adequate for preventing your dog from moving around the vehicle. We recently had a customer who required exactly that, her Bulldog was constantly trying to get through to the front of the vehicle because he just wanted to be closer to his best friend, of course this was a distraction so our customer wanted advice on what she could do. We recommended the KURGO TRU-FIT HARNESS and tried it on for size, it fitted perfectly and she was very happy at how easy it was to slip on. Another very satisfied customer and more importantly a safe driver and her Bulldog passenger!