Instant Guide

Should dogs wear seat belts?

The holiday weekend is here, and many families — and their pets — are hitting the road to celebrate. Here, a guide to ensuring that Fido travels safely

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us, and with it, the great American tradition of the long road trip. Today, more pet owners than ever are foregoing the kennel in favor of bringing their furry friends along on vacation. How can you keep them safe on the road? Here, a brief guide:

Should dogs wear seat belts?
Yes. According to law enforcement officials and animal advocates, seat belt harnesses, car seats, and other forms of pet restraints make travel safer for everyone. An unrestrained pet is a "hazard," says St. Charles, Ill., Sheriff Patrick Perez, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal

But why?
"If you are going 50 miles per hour and hit the brake," says Sheriff Perez, "the pet becomes a projectile in the car." In fact, research by Volvo indicates that a standard-sized dog traveling in a car at 30 mph turns into 2,700 pounds of force — the same size as a baby elephant. And while "the image of a happy dog hanging out of a car window is hard to top," says Gwendolyn Bounds at The Wall Street Journal, even that isn't safe. The smallest spec of flying debris could cause serious damage to your pet's eye or nose, says Petautosafety.com.

Seat-belted dogs make driving safer for humans, too?
Yes. A roaming dog leads to distracted driving, one of the reasons law enforcement officials are pushing for more doggy seat belts. A survey conducted by AAA reports that one-fifth of drivers allow their dogs on their laps. And even petting, or scolding a dog to "sit," distracts drivers from the road, creating dangerous situations.

Do most drivers seat belt their dogs?
No. According to advocacy group Bark Buckle Up, most families aren't taking the proper precaution. Last year, nearly 90 percent of pets traveling in cars weren't secured properly.  Currently, there are no laws about harnessing pets in vehicles.

How do these harnesses work?
There are different kinds. Some companies, like Volvo, sell steel cargo barriers that keep pets confined to the luggage area of the car. Another option is booster seats, which hook around head rests and keep dogs secured in a basket-like container. Other harnesses attach to a standard car seat belt, with the other end secured around the dog's torso. A standard harness runs about $20 on PetsMart.com, with some sold as low as $6.79. Volvo's steel cargo barrier, however, is a bit pricier: $345.

Aren't they uncomfortable?
At first, most dogs will resist being harnessed, but once they get used to it, the seat belts "can actually be quite comfortable," says Petautosafety.com. With a car's change in speed, frequent turning, and sudden stopping, most dogs have a difficult time sitting or laying down. A secured dog won't have to brace himself against car maneuvers, allowing him to "lay down comfortably."

Sources: ABC 13 Petautosafety.com, PetsMart.comWall Street Journal

Recommended

6 charming homes in Queens, New York
House
Feature

6 charming homes in Queens, New York

The Check-In: Yosemite drops reservations, and more
Christmas travel.
Feature

The Check-In: Yosemite drops reservations, and more

The Week contest: Lustful ghost
Shadow of a man with his hand pressed against glass.
Feature

The Week contest: Lustful ghost

The best new Christmas-themed books for your holiday reading
A book.
Briefing

The best new Christmas-themed books for your holiday reading

Most Popular

5 toons about Elon Musk's Twitter disaster
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Elon Musk's Twitter disaster

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy
Anti-zero COVID protest in Beijing
China's COVID protests

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy

The shadow over the World Cup
The German soccer team.
Briefing

The shadow over the World Cup