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Why a Dog Seat Belt Tether is Crucial While Traveling

September 1, 2021 | by

traveling with pets, pet safety collar, pet safety harness, how to travel with dogs, dog seat belt tether, pet traveling, in car dog restraint, dog restraint for cars, pets traveling

Nearly all pet owners would agree, that their pet's safety is extremely important to them. However, according to Kurgo, "only 16 percent of dog owners who have driven with their pet use some form of restraint while their dog is in the vehicle."

Sounds kind of silly, right?

Many people often wonder if restraining their pet in the car is really necessary. To which I would quickly reply...

Yes! So long as you care if your pet makes it if there is an accident.

Chew on this:

If you do any of the following while driving

  1. Use your hands to hold your dog(s), or block them from affecting your visibility

  2. Reprimand your dog(s) for moving around unrestrained

  3. Check on your dog(s) to make sure they aren’t about to jump out the window

  4. Drive with an unrestrained dog(s)

…a doggie seat belt is a must!

As a veterinary technician, I have witnessed the aftermath of car crashes with unleashed pets. Unfortunately, the pet always seems to bear the brunt of the crash. One thing I can say for certain: each tragedy was preventable. Remember, safe pets are happy pets. The purchase of a doggie seat belt can not only save your pet's life, but it will put your mind at ease while driving….as it does for me!

Do Dogs Need Seat Belts?…..YES!

Many pet owners tend to unleash their pets, both outside, and in the car. We must, however, remember that pets are animals, and will not always obey their owner's commands. Whether you are traveling to the vet for a quick check-up, or going on a cross-country road trip with Fido, investing in a pet seat belt is worth it. All it takes is a split second for an accident to happen, as it did to my pup.

Many years ago my family and I decided to take a road trip with our dog, Fiona. For the majority of the trip, she was restrained. One evening, however, we decided to take a drive 2-minute down the road, and like most people, I didn’t see it necessary to restrain her. All it took was someone cutting in front of us at 5 mph for my 10-pound dog to go barreling into the dashboard: mind you, all the way from the back seat.

Fortunately, my pup didn’t have a scratch on her. However, from that moment on, I have always restrained her in the car, as I encourage all pet owners to do.

How a Dog Seat Belt Can Save your Pup's Life

According to a 2019 study conducted by Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll, there were 649 unsafe driving instances with unrestrained pets, as compared to 274 with restrained pets. This study not only finds that humans are more relaxed with restraining their pets, but that the dogs themselves had a heart rate 7 beats per minute slower when restrained.

A non-restrained dog has no guidance or structure, therefore they wander around the car, jump from window to window, and distract their owners. Leaving your pet like this increases their anxiety, as they have no idea what is to come. I can imagine their thoughts are something along the lines of...Will I jump out the window?... Maybe in my owner’s lap?... Or maybe they’ll give me a treat so I should probably jump in the front seat!

The use of a pet seat belt gives your pet structure during their time in the car, and ultimately, it relaxes you and them.

Different Types of Dog Seat Belts

There are a few types of dog seat belts, each of which differs by how they attach to the seat of your car:

Clip-on Seat Belt:

These seat belts are quite easy to install. The harness (which may or may not be included with the seat belt itself), connects to an adjustable tether that clips directly into your seat buckle anchorage.

Attach to: Harness or Collar

Attach from: Seat buckle

Pro: Easy to install

Con: Easy to unlock (if your dog loves tap-dancing)

Headrest Seat Belt:

Like clip-on seat belts, these, too, are very easy to install, as they simply clip onto the headrest. You may connect these to either a harness or collar on your pet.

Attach to: Harness or Collar

Attach from: Headrest

Pro: Easy to install

Con: Easy to undo (if your dog moves around a lot)

Latch Bar Attachment:

This restraint type is more time-consuming to set up, as it is attached to the latch bar underneath your seat. You may connect these to either a harness or collar on your pet.

Attach to: Harness or Collar

Attach from: Latch bar

Pro: Secure attachment

Con: Slightly longer installation time

Pet Safety Collar or Harness: Which is Better?

After deciding on a style for your seat belt, it is important to consider what you want to attach your dog seat belt to. Though both pet safety collars and harnesses may be effective in restraining your pet, upon crashing, a collar will not distribute the force of impact on your pet. On the other hand, a harness, which also extends around an animal's torso will distribute that force more evenly, resulting in a less concentrated impact on their neck (as with a collar). It is highly recommended you purchase a dog safety harness (specifically one designed for use in the car) to protect your pet in the event of a crash.


The benefits of purchasing a doggie seat belt far outweigh the disadvantages of doing so. As explained by Kurgo, "An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force." As is the case with human seat belts, pet seat belts are no guarantee for safety. However, restraining your dog in a car seat belt can certainly reduce injuries to your dog: whether you’re taking a short trip to the dog park or embarking on a road trip together!

These recommendations are not given by veterinary specialists, as they are our personal recommendations. It is advised you look into each product prior to purchasing, and consult with your pet's veterinarian regarding any questions. Traveling Creatures is an affiliate and is in no way responsible for circumstances that may occur with the use of any of the recommended products.

Traveling Creatures may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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