Travel

Best Dog Seat Belts, Car Seats, Harnesses & Our Personal Experience

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Last Updated: June 14, 2024 | 13 min read | 8 Comments

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I’ve driven by many vehicles where I’ve seen a dog sitting on the driver’s lap, obstructing their view, distracting the driver, and jumping all over them. And while it’s adorable to see the dog enjoying the ride with their head out the window, complete with wind-flapping jowls, it’s pretty dangerous. A dog seat belt, harness, or car seat can help, making the ride a much more enjoyable and safe trip for everyone. We always strap ourselves in for safety, so why not do the same for our beloved pups?

When I adopted my dog, Bonkers, I got him a seat belt to keep him safe in the back seat. I knew he’d be going everywhere with me, and I wanted to ensure he was secure in the vehicle, so I purchased a dog car restraint. When my next rescue dog, Chips, joined the family, a safety belt was part of the essential puppy equipment checklist because it is one of my most useful canine gadgets. I feel much safer knowing Bonkers and Chips have seat belts and are safe if we get in an accident. My dog car harness reviews can help you find the right product and keep your dog safe.

Dog Seat BeltCrash-Tested HarnessDog Car Seat
Iokheira 3-In-1 Car Harness Sleepypod Clickit Sport Plus HarnessSnoozer dog bed
IokheiraSleepypodSnoozer Lookout
View on AmazonView on Amazon
Read ReviewRead Review

How To Pick A Dog Seat Belt

Woman fastening dog into car with safe belt in seat booster.

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best seat belt for your pet’s safety. There are different types of pet safety belts and vehicle seats, but you have to ensure they meet your traveling needs. Before I get into my dog car leash reviews, let’s look at how to pick the best dog seat belt for your pup in this buyer’s guide.

1. Restraint Type

There are several types of dog car restraints to choose from. You can choose a car seat belt, harness, or seat. The one you choose depends on your preference, budget, pet size, and more. Some car seats double up as carriers, too, which is handy for those with smaller pups. Some owners like to attach a restraint to a dog’s usual harness for ease and comfort. Others prefer to purchase a separate car harness so it remains unspoiled. Some pet parents opt for a seat or carrier as some pups like the comfort, and it helps owners keep the vehicle clean.

If you’re looking for a crate instead of a car seat belt, please visit our comprehensive dog crates for cars guide. There, you can find information on how to pick the best dog car crate for your needs, as well as reviews and recommended products.

2. Safety & Crash-Testing

Unfortunately, there aren’t any safety requirements or regulations for doggy car seat belts. The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) is a non-profit research and pet safety advocate organization founded in 2011. It crash-tests products voluntarily submitted by companies. Companies pay for the rigorous testing; if they pass, they can claim this to their customers. If they don’t pass, the CPS releases the results and videos. As a result, not many companies volunteer their products for testing.

Many companies also claim their products are crash-tested. However, in some instances, they haven’t undergone a realistic crash simulation. The CPS ensures that crash testing is realistic. For these reasons, products that pass CPS crash tests are typically costlier. However, I think it’s a great idea if you can stretch your budget for these products.

If your pup is involved in an accident, they might suffer from injury, and the medical bills can also be costly. Head to our guide about whether your pet insurance covers your dog in a car accident while they’re in the car.

3. Comfort & Size

Whatever type of car seat you buy for your pup, it needs to be comfortable. If you choose a traditional seat belt, it should have soft edges that do not cut into your dog’s skin. If you choose a harness, it should feature soft, padded straps for the same reason, made from breathable material. Harnesses should also feature adjustable straps to achieve your dog’s best size and fit. If you’re picking a harness, you must determine the best size for your pup by following the product’s measurement guidelines.

Or if you opt for a dog car seat, it should be cozy enough for them to lie on with a padded bottom layer and room to sit comfortably. Your pup’s size can determine which type of car restraint you pick. Smaller dogs have the pick of all products. But large to giant dog breeds won’t find much luck with a dog seat or carrier. These handsome hounds are restricted to belts or harnesses.

4. Durability & Compatability

Any product you purchase for your pup must withstand general wear and tear and shouldn’t fall apart on the first use. It needs to last to achieve good value for money. Plus, you can’t put a value on your pup’s safety. If you can stretch your budget to a CPS crash-tested product, I recommend you do. If you can’t, I recommend choosing a product that has a high number of good reviews and steer clear of super cheap products.

You also need to ensure that the item you choose is compatible with your vehicle and back seats. You need to understand and identify how the device connects to your car. Some options use the latch system or ISOFIX attachment points for children’s car seats. If so, you need to check that your vehicle has those systems.

5. Easy To Clean

The product you pick should be easy to clean. This is especially important if you choose a car seat for your pup. I prefer products you can chuck in the washer for ease and a deeper clean. I recommend visiting our dog car seat cover reviews guide to keep your car seats clean from hair and accidents. My dog Chips suffers from travel sickness, and seat covers have been a blessing.

Best Car Restraints For Dogs

Now for the section where I review a variety of options for traveling with your dog safely. Read through the reviews to help you decide which option is best for you and your pet. I have chosen highly-reviewed products, some of which have been tested by our team and their pups.

Best Seat Belt For Dogs: Iokheira 3-In-1 Car Harness Review

 Iokheira 3-In-1 Car Harness

View on Amazon

Our best dog seat belt pick has two clips you can use in three ways. One is a buckle that directly clips into your car seat belt buckle. The other is a hook latch that connects to the trunk’s hook or the ISOFIX child safety seat locket. The hook latch means you can place your dog in the trunk, which is not an option for seat belts with just the buckle attachment.

This seat belt allows your dog to sit, stand, or lay down. The carabiner rotates 360 degrees, preventing your pup from getting tied up. The dual-safe lock hook carabiner is made from alloy and is much sturdier than general clips. It’s super easy to use; attach the seat belt to the car buckle, trunk latch, or ISOFIX, and clip the other end to your pet’s harness. The elastic belt protects your dog and is made from strong nylon. It also features reflective stitching, which is an additional safety feature for night-time traveling.

Thanks to the sliding buckle, the length is adjustable, ranging from 19.6 to 31.5 inches. This gives you options and control over how much space your dog can have. There is only one seat belt, whereas other options often come with two. However, this high-quality option offers much better safety than others, so don’t let this put you off. A few customers didn’t like that their pup chewed through the belt. However, this could happen with any product not specifically designed to be chew-proof.

ProsCons
3-in-1 attachment optionsNot chew-resistant
Dogs can stand, sit, lay
360 degrees rotating carabiner clip
Length adjustable
Made from strong nylon
Reflective stitching

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Our First-Hand Experience

Our family has similar style seatbelts that we use for our dog, Sally. We have them attached to harnesses because, to us, it feels like it’s safer than having it attached to her collar. The seatbelts help keep her in the backseat so she can ride comfortably, and we don’t have to worry about her getting up in our faces while driving with her.

Kimberly Alt, Research, Writer, & Pet Insurance Expert For Canine Journal

Best Crash-Tested Dog Car Harness: Sleepypod Clickit Sport Plus Harness Review

Sleepypod Clickit Sport Plus Harness

View on Amazon | View on Chewy

This is one of the only CPS crash-tested products on the market, making it one of the safest car restraint systems available. It is also tested according to American, Canadian, and European child car seat safety guidelines. This harness comes in four sizes and is suitable for dogs up to 90 pounds, which means it is one of the best options for larger dogs, too. It also comes in various colors and has reflective patches for extra visibility.

The harness features an infinity loop design to protect your pup on the road and is made with breathable and comfortable neoprene web material. Pull your vehicle’s seat belt through the harness, clip it in as usual, and cover it with the buckle cover. This harness comes with an S-clip, so you can choose the length of the seat belt and clamp it with the clip.

The harness has two D rings, so you can use it for travel and adventure without swapping it for your everyday harness. This premium option comes with a one-year warranty for product defects. Sleepypod also promises to replace any car restraints damaged in a car crash. Some customers complain that the neck adjustment straps loosen over time, but this doesn’t appear to be an issue for most users.

ProsCons
CPS crash-test certifiedHigher price point
Tested to US, Canadian, and EU child safety standardsSome users complain that the neck strap loosens over time
Four dog sizes and a variety of colors
The best option for large dogs
Adjustable buckles achieve the best fit
It can be used as a walking harness
1-year warranty & crash replacement

Pricing

Best Car Seat For Small Dogs: Snoozer Lookout Review

snoozer lookout dog car seat jpg

View on Amazon | View on Chewy

If you have a smaller dog, a booster car seat may be a good idea so your dog can see out the window. Being able to see out the window also helps reduce car sickness. It also has a padded base, so your dog should be comfortable in this car seat. The foam form and simulated lamb’s wool interior stay cool in the summer and keep your dog warm during the winter for extra comfort. The foam is CertiPUR-US rated, which means it holds its shape and provides support.

The raised sides offer neck support for your pup and contain them for a cozy ride for the dog and driver. The quilted nylon cover repels hair and is machine washable and dryable. You can choose from multiple fabric color options so your dog will ride in style. To secure this product safely, loop the lower part of the seat belt across the channel in the seat. Next, wrap the included strap around the lap belt and clip it in place. All you need to do is attach this clip to a harness.

ProsCons
Different color optionsA little expensive
This booster seat for small dogs can reduce travel sicknessOnly for dogs under 25 pounds
Comfortable during the winter and summer
Easy to use and attach to your dog’s harness
Machine washable

Pricing

Best Car Seat + Carrier Combo: Funny Fuzzy Leather Fort Review

Funny Fuzzy Leather Fort.

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If you want a convenient and luxurious way to transport your canine in your car, this leather fort from Funny Fuzzy could be a good solution. It buckles into your car’s seatbelt, but when you arrive at the destination, fold up and use the handles to turn the seat into a carrier. The two carry options make it a versatile carrier. It features an internal leash that attaches to your pup for extra safety.

The fold-down flap allows your dog to see when lying down or keeps it snapped up so it stays snug and safe. Depending on your dog’s size or if you have two small dogs, you can choose between a single or double seat. The leather is tear and scratch-resistant and comes in various colors to suit you and your pup’s style. The cotton padding is thick to offer your dog a cozy ride.

ProsCons
Made of tear-resistant, durable PU leatherOnly for smaller dogs
2-in-1 functionality (carrier and car seat)Premium price
Fold sides up or down
Easy-to-clean fabric
14-day free returns

Pricing

Our First-Hand Experience with Funny Fuzzy Leather Fort

Georgie in car seat.

We got the opportunity to try the Funny Fuzzy leather fort in exchange for an honest review. The leather is high-quality, durable, and soft, plus easy to clean since the fur doesn’t stick to the material. It has a flap that folds down in the front, and it has three straps that secure the seat into place and double as a carrying handle. We put it together, and our dog immediately curled up into the seat and didn’t want to get out. This will make car rides so much more enjoyable for both Georgie and us, knowing he’s safe and secure (and comfortable.)

Sadie Cornelius, Writer & Creative Marketer for Canine Journal

Best Center Console Dog Seat: K&H Pet Products Console Dog Car Seat Review

K&H pet products dot car seat.

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K&H is a well-known doggy brand, and this center console dog car seat is an excellent option for small dogs who love to get in on the action. Thankfully, the inner safety tether attaches to the dog’s harness, keeping them at a safe distance and offering the best of both worlds. Place the seat on the center console and select from a handful of universal straps to find the best fit for your vehicle.

This option features a soft inner cushion for additional comfort. It is also machine washable. This car seat acts as a carrier, too, with two durable straps for safety. The top mesh panel allows air circulation and can be opened or closed with a zip. With pockets on both sides for storage, this car seat makes a great traveling option. This seat comes in a variety of colors and a one-year limited warranty. This option is only suitable for dogs weighing 15 pounds and under, which rules out a lot of canine customers.

ProsCons
It is ideal for anxious travelers who like to sit with their ownersOnly for small dogs
Being high up with a view can ease travel sicknessSome drivers find this option too distracting
Soft and cozy inner material
Universal straps for all types of console
Acts as a carrier, too
It comes in a variety of colors and has a one-year warranty

Pricing

Does Your Dog Get Anxious In The Car?

In addition to the above safety reasons, many owners also invest in a harness or car bed to help soothe travel anxiety or sickness. Watch this short video from Doggy Dan, the dog trainer, who has some tips for calming your dog down if they get anxious in the car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions that we know our readers have about traveling with pets in cars. If you don’t see your question below, ask us in the comments, and we’ll find out for you.

What Is The Best Way To Restrain A Dog In A Car?

If you’re wondering whether a crate or a harness is safer for a dog in a car, the answer depends on your dog. A dog car crate is a better option than a car harness. Crates keep dogs safe and secure during trips, offering more protection and safety. They help prevent distractions and provide a comfortable space for your pet. However, not all vehicles have enough space for a crate, and not all dogs like crates. So, if a crate is not an option, a harness is better than not buckling up your buddy at all. You should also attach the car leash or dog seat to their harness rather than their collar.

Do Dogs Need Seat Belts?

If an accident occurs and your dog is not buckled up, your dog could be seriously injured or worse. Plus, like any object not strapped up, dogs can be thrown through the air and seriously injure a human passenger. It’s a good idea to have your dog secured just like you buckle up yourself and your kiddos when in the car.

Do Dogs Have To Wear A Harness In The Car By Law?

Car restraint laws vary by state. At the time of publishing, only a few states have restrictions on dogs being buckled up. Many states have passed laws banning dogs from the front seat, truck bed, driver’s lap, or hanging their head out the window. So, if you live or pass through one of these places with your pup, you must check what’s legal. Several states have proposed legislation for dog transportation. And while all other states might not have laws, officers could charge drivers under distracted driving laws if dogs do not wear a harness.

How Does A Dog Car Seat Belt Or Seat Work?

It depends on what product you use, as each one is different. Some dog seatbelts and seats clip into your car’s belt buckle directly, while others secure around the existing seatbelt. Car harnesses and seatbelts work like seat belts for humans in that they help keep dogs from being injured in the event of an accident. Like children and babies, dogs cannot secure themselves properly and are more prone to sliding around in the seat at sudden stops.

How Do I Fit A Dog Car Harness?

You fit a car harness according to the recommendations for the specific harness you get. It should be tight across their body so they don’t slip out, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. Most recommend that you should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and their skin (not fur).

Do Dog Car Seats Help With Car Sickness?

Seeing out the window can reduce the chances of your dog having motion sickness. If your pup is prone to traveling sickness, check out our article dedicated to dealing with dogs with car sickness.

Are Dogs Safer In The Front Or Back Of The Car?

Dogs are always safer in the back of the car, and it is illegal in some states for dogs to sit in the front passenger seat. Sitting in the front distracts the driver, and the airbags pose a severe threat to your dog’s safety if deployed. Airbags are designed to protect adults, and the force can be enough to kill a pet or a child. Always place your dog in the back seat for their safety.

More Tips For Traveling With Dogs

Using a dog seat belt or restraint in the car can save your dog’s life, and no owner should be without one. Dog barriers may be another option you’d like to consider using in your vehicle. You should also consider other things when traveling with your dog. Please read our article about traveling with dogs in vehicles so you’ve thought of everything before your trip. If your dog has difficulties getting into the vehicle, look into dog car ramps that can make traveling much more accessible.

Do you have one of these car seat belts or seats? Or perhaps you’ve got another recommendation that has been a blessing on your travels? Let us know in the comments below.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is the owner of two rescue dogs, Bonkers and Chips. She regularly travels with them up and down the country to visit family, on business trips and vacations, and her car safety belts are one of her most-used doggy gadgets. Emma has also worked as a professional dog walker and sitter for many years and has had to use all kinds of dog car safety belts and harnesses. She dedicates countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to keep her two best buddies and other doggy clients as happy and healthy as possible. Emma works with a professional and experienced team to give her readers the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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