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Automotive Restraints For Your Dog

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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Traveling with your dog can be made safer and easier by the use of automotive restraints. Like you, your dog is safer when he is properly secured in the vehicle in the event of an accident or unexpected distraction.

We've all seen pets riding in cars and trucks that had free range of the vehicle. This is a tremendous risk for injury. Dogs that sit in their owner's laps or bounce from seat to seat can disrupt your field of vision or attention span. Hanging his head out of the window can cause serious eye injuries. A sudden stop with your pet in the back of an open vehicle can send your pet flying into traffic. Or he may make the decision to jump out at something he finds appealing with no warning.

Even dogs who are well behaved in the vehicle benefit from proper restraints. In the event of an accident, a restraint can keep your pet with your vehicle. Many dogs will run away if they are disoriented or injured. The last thing you want is to have to look for your scared or injured dog in unfamiliar surroundings. Check out your local pet supply store for pet safe automotive restraints. Here are a few options.

Harness/Seat Belt

A harness is a safer option than a collar for use with a restraint than is a collar. A harness fits around your dog's chest without any pressure being placed around the neck. If you should have to stop suddenly or your dog tries to move, he is comfortably restrained without any hazard of cutting off his airway. An automotive harness is equipped with special straps that clip into the regular seat belts in the vehicle. Your dog can sit or lay comfortably but has limited range of movement while riding. They can be used in the front or back seat of the vehicle so you can still have your co-pilot up front with you while you travel. If your pet is not used to a harness, let him wear it a few times and take him for a walk till the feeling of the straps become familiar. (You may find it's a lot easier to use a harness than a collar for your daily walks). If he's been used to having free range of the vehicle, practice a few time with short trips until he gets the idea. These restraints come in sizes to fit every breed of dog and are adjustable.

If your dog already wears a harness, there are harness attachments made that clip to the O-ring and then to the seat belt so you do not have to buy separate harnesses for daily exercise and use in the vehicle.

If you travel in a truck or open vehicle and your dog rides in the back, a restraint is doubly important. Your dog is exposed to every kind of distraction and you have no way of stopping him if he decides the little poodle in the next car is really cute. Fun as it is, it's hard not to cringe when you see a dog riding in a truck bed with his feet up on the tailgate. Serious injuries can occur if he's thrown from the car. Check out the pole restraints designed for use in open vehicles. This device consists of two poles with an O-ring in the middle that is adjusted to fit the width of the truck bed. Your dog's harness or collar can be clipped to the ring which gives him comfortable range of movement but keeps him centered in the truck, away from the sides of the vehicle.

Another version is made from adjustable nylon straps that clip to both sides of the truck bed. There is also a similar item that secures a kennel in place. Your dog can ride in the protection of a kennel without it slipping back and forth in the truck bed.

Seat Barriers

If your dog just flatly refuses to have anything to do with being restrained, try a wire window. These are grids made of stainless steel wire or tubes that form a separation of the back seat or cargo area from the front of your car. Your dog can move freely but cannot get up front where he may distract your driving or get underfoot. They are adjustable and the grid wire comes in different sizes for all types of dogs.

Window Grills

Window grills are vents designed for use when you want to roll down your windows. They are placed between the window and the frame and allow you and your pet to have plenty of fresh air without the risk of your dog jumping or hanging his head out the window. (Great for keeping kids safe too!)

Do take care to keep your dog as safe in the car as you can. All pets should wear their identification tags when traveling, even on routine trips. Never leave your pet in an unattended vehicle. Use restraint devices.

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