Best Dog Car Harness Options - The Canine Seatbelt
Finding the best dog harness for your pooch is never easy.
In Australia, drivers caught with unrestrained dogs can risk fines of more than $400.00.
This means that no matter how long your trip will be, your dog needs the proper safety gear to protect both you and themselves, and a dog car harness is the best solution, acting like a seatbelt in the event of an accident.
Today’s guide will help you find the right car harness and seat belt for your dog.
Do I Really Need a Car Harness for the Dog?
In general, cars were not built with dogs in mind. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about their safety. The truth is, pet safety in cars is a heavily under-researched area, but using a puppy car harness and a puppy seat belt seems to be the safest option.
Even though there are no strict universal regulations in Australia when it comes to restraining a dog in a car, the RSPCA does recommend using a car harness.
Besides increased security in case of an accident, a tethered harness will also prevent a dog from jumping out of the window and from distracting the driver.
But how exactly do you choose a car harness for your dog? Here are some things to consider:
Construction & Comfort
Especially if you are going for a long ride, the harness your dog will wear needs to be comfortable. This is even more important for dogs who suffer from anxiety when in the car. The rules for this are the same as with regular harnesses: a harness that fits well is more likely to be comfortable, and soft padding on the inside will definitely help.
However, when it comes to car harnesses, security is more important than comfort. For this reason, it’s also important to look for harnesses with strong construction and quality stitching.
When it comes to car harnesses, sizing is especially important. If a harness fits well, the dog is much less likely to get out of it - and this is especially important in the car. A dog roaming around freely can be a danger to themselves and the driver too.
To get the right fit, make sure to measure the chest and neck girth of your dog. For the chest circumference, measure the widest part of the chest. The same goes for the neck - measure it at the widest part, close to the base.
Most harnesses you can get today are adjustable too, so you can make little tweaks to get the perfect fit. An ideally fitted harness should fit snugly, but not too tight - you should always be able to insert two fingers between the harness and your dog’s skin.
Is it Crash Tested?
Lack of testing for dog car safety equipment is a serious issue, and the few studies that have been conducted suggest that many car harnesses aren’t really effective in the case of an accident (2). In Australia, there are currently no specific standards for safety testing a dog harness and seat belt. However, some manufacturers choose to do some crash tests voluntarily, so getting a harness that says “crash tested” might be a good idea.
Dog Harness For Cars 2022 - A Review
We’ve checked out all of the car safety harnesses for dogs available on the market, and there is quite a lot to choose from. Below you’ll find our top picks:
The EzyDog Drive Harness was made with one thing in mind: safety. For this reason, it’s also a bit bulkier than most other harnesses. It features an ergonomic chest plate created using what EzyDog calls the “crosslink technology”. In essence, it has been shaped and stitched through in such a manner that there is no way your dog will end up out of the harness, no matter what.
The chest plate is connected with the back piece through thick straps that are actually made of the same material seat belts are made of. On the back, you’ll find a large loop made of webbing. To get your canine companion set up in the car, you’ll need to pull the seat belt through this loop and snap it into the buckle just like a human was sitting there. Then you'll have to adjust the harness so it fits your dog perfectly, luckily, that’s also quite easy to do thanks to the buckle system created by EzyDog to make adjusting the harness easier. And that’s it, you should be ready to start your journey.
The EzyDog Drive Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
Finally, this harness has been crash tested according to EU, USA, and Australian standards. That’s always good to know, even though we always hope we won’t end up in situations where we need such features.
Verified Review - 21/04/2021
Sturdy dog harness that also holds in an emergency
"Our dog dislike the harness/harness tremendously but safety comes first. If you have mastered the adjustment via the four straps and had to say goodbye to various fingernails, then the strap sits very well and with its large support is guaranteed to have the greatest protection for the dog. In the car, the harness, also called harness, makes a very good and high-quality impression. As a collar replacement, it is not suitable for our dog because the legs do not have sufficient freedom of movement in the harness when running or running. We bought the part for the car and it makes a very good impression."
This harness from SlowTon is another car harness for dogs that also doubles as a walking harness. Overall, we found it to be a great harness for both purposes.
This is a standard H-shaped harness with a wide chest piece made of breathable mesh material. We loved the design of the chest piece. On some harnesses, this part can be quite thick, and although soft, it can trap in heat. On this harness, however, there are just two layers of breathable mesh material with quality stitching along the edges. This way, your dog can enjoy wearing a comfortable harness without also feeling like wearing a sweater.
The SlowTon Dog Car Harness Seatbelt Set being tested by our independent expert team.
The chest piece is connected with two straps - one going around the chest and the other around the belly. They are both highly adjustable and on the back there are two large metal rings to attach the harness to the dog car seat belt.
When you buy this harness, you will get the seat belt too. It looks somewhat like a leash that you can snap into any standard seat belt buckle. The leash is short enough to not let your dog roam around too much but long enough to let them settle comfortably. The leash also has a bungee cord part which gives it elasticity, which is great as it provides flex in case any accidents happen.
Verified Review - 24/03/2021
Good Value for Money
"The harness itself is lovely and sturdy however wish there was purple on the top rather than black. It's a strong harness so good if your dog pulls and such a good price in comparison to the julius k9 ones. It is slightly adjustable and I got a size medium which is snug on my Frenchie even though I measured her.
However the harness seatbelt does not stay clipped. My dog does move around a little bit she does not pull hard and 3x now I have gone to unclip her and she's already loose. Luckily I haven't gone on long car journeys but I would not recommend using it if you are going with no one else sitting in the back. It does have a bit of stretch with an adjustable part which is good."
The car harness from Beau Pets is a simple harness that’s not overly bulky, but will still keep your canine companion safely in place. The harness mostly consists of straps made of quality nylon webbing and looking somewhat like a car seat belt themselves.
The belly strap and the neck strap are both adjustable to achieve a perfect fit. They each have a quick-release buckle on them which you’ll need to snap into place when putting the harness on your dog.
With the harness, you’ll also get a separate strap that you will use to connect the harness to a seat belt. One side of the strap will snap right into a quick-release buckle on the back of the harness, and the other side simply goes into a seat belt buckle, just like an actual seat belt. Setting up all of this shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
Finally, the Beau Pets car harness also features a large D-ring on the back for attaching the lead. In this way, it transforms itself into a regular walking harness. It’s not the best harness for walking, and we wouldn’t recommend it for long walks, but for getting to and from the car it will work just fine.
Verified Review - 4/01/2020
"Length of the seat belt is just right and gives my large dog just enough freedom to move from window to window without distracting me when i'm driving or making me worry about her being thrown around when i make turns or brake."
The PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness is another good option for those who’d like to keep their pets safe and comfortable. This harness features a wide chest piece with thick padding on the inside and a breathable liner to ensure your pet doesn’t get too warm if it gets hot in the car (don’t ever leave the dog unsupervised in the car though).
The PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Safety Harness being tested by our independent expert team.
The large chest piece is connected with two straps that meet on the back. There, you will find two large loops you can feed the car seat belt through and attach it to the standard socket. Alternatively, you can also use a car seat belt designed specifically for dogs and attach it to the same place.
Verified Review - 27/05/2021
Keeps my dog under control while riding in the back seat.
"The harness itself is good quality and comfortable for my dog. I like that it attaches on the back rather than front of dog. The adjustable lead which is attached to the middle seat belt is just the right length to allow her to sit and lie down, but not jump on car windows."
If you are looking for a small dog car harness, you might also want to consider a booster seat for your canine companion. For small and tiny dogs, travelling in the car can look quite sad because they can’t even look out of the window - and we know some of them love too. A booster seat helps solve this issue by creating a safe space for your dog that’s also higher so they can look out of the window.
The All for Paws Travel Dog Booster Seat being tested by our independent expert team.
This booster seat from All For Paws can be easily attached to a seat in your car. What you’ll get is essentially a large pouch hanging from the seat inside which your furbaby can settle comfortably. This booster seat comes with an inflatable pillow at the base which you can also remove for easier portability. Just keep in mind that you’ll also need to use some kind of a dog seat belt and harness setup even though your pup is in a booster seat if you want to keep them safe.
Verified Review - 4/01/2017
My Puppy Loves It!
"It's very good as my puppy can now check out the streets, but the way it gets fixed to the car has not entirely convinced me."
Best Dog Seat Belt Options
We’ve also checked out all top rated dog seat belts available in Australia. Below you’ll find our top picks:
Once you have a car harness for your dog, you’ll also need to attach it to something for it to be functional. The easiest solution is definitely a dog seatbelt like this one.
This belt from EzyDog is basically just a mini version of a real seat belt for your dog. The belt itself is made of a similar material like real seat belts, and it snaps right into a seat belt buckle. On the other end, you’ll find an attachment for connecting it to your dog’s harness. This will work on just about any harness.
The EzyDog Car Seat Belt Attachment being tested by our independent expert team.
What’s especially great about this dog seatbelt is that its length is adjustable. Depending on the size of your dog and your car, you’ll be able to adjust the seat belt to just the right length so your dog remains safe but comfortable.
Verified Review - 4/09/2020
"Very high quality and secure fit. I’ve purchased a second one it’s that good."
This dog seat belt from Zenify is another simple seat belt for dogs, only with the addition of a bungee cord. We found the bungee cord feature really useful. In case of any sudden turns or movements, the elastic part will ensure your canine companion does not get strangled by the belt.
Another nice thing about this seat belt is that its length is adjustable. You can adjust it anywhere between 50cm (the shortest setting) and 74cm (the longer setting). When fully stretched, the bungee cord will extend the belt for another 14cm. One end of this belt goes into a standard seat belt socket and the other one attaches to any harness.
The Zenify Dog Car Seat Belt being tested by our independent expert team.
Verified Review - 17/11/2020
Good Dog Seat Belt
"Excellent product. Safer than my previous dog seat belt and allows him safe movement which it makes it more comfortable. Trivial comment - didn’t like pale blue cover."
Does your pet like chewing through any seat belt or restraint you get for him? If yes, you are not the only one. The Mighty Paw Dog Seat Belt was made specifically to keep the chewers safe. Namely, the core of this belt is thick braided steel wire which is literally impossible to chew through. Another benefit of using this form of seat belt is that it will never get tangled. The wire core simply makes it impossible.
Another great thing about this option is that you don’t need to attach it to the seat belt buckle. Instead, you just attach it to the LATCH anchor in your car - the same place where baby seats get attached. This way, you can also leave the dog seat belt in the car when not in use.
The Mighty Paw Dog Seat Belt being tested by our independent expert team.
Verified Review - 26/07/2020
"Works well - I wish it were a bit shorter as I prefer my dog to lie down and stay put when in the truck. This gives him enough room to wander between the two windows, but not enough to hang his head out. It seems very strong."
This dog seat belt has a different setup than most other option. You don’t need to attach it anywhere, just wrap it around the headrest instead. The top part of the belt simply goes around the headers and you can attach it with a quick release buckle that’s also lockable to ensure safety. The top part is adjustable so you can get the right fit around any headrest.
The longer part of this seatbelt is adjustable too - so you can find the length that is just right for your pup. Part of this belt also comes with a bungee cord inside which softens any sudden movements.
The SlowTon Dog Seatbelt being tested by our independent expert team.
One great thing about this car belt is that it will turn into a regular leash in a pinch. Simply take it off and hold the part that would go around the headrest in your hand. The belt even features reflective stitching for better visibility when walking at night.
Verified Review - 25/03/2020
Excellent If Just Using For One Dog
"Not so good when being used with two dogs. They tend to get caught in each other, trying to remedy that but otherwise a great sense of safety when opening the boot."
Dog Car Restraint Options: The Final Verdict
While there is definitely a lack of testing when it comes to dog car harnesses, they are most likely the safest option - and certainly better than using a collar (3). In our best dog car harness Australia list, we focused on finding the safest and most secure harnesses and seat belts available.
The Dog Nation Car Harness for Dogs is one of our favourites because it’s a really well-made harness that works both as a regular working harness and as a security harness for your car. By default, the Dog Nation harness should be attached to your car’s seat belt, which some pet parents find annoying. If you agree, the SlowTon Dog Car Harness Seatbelt Set is a good alternative because it also includes a dedicated seat belt for your canine companion.
After work dog harness information? Check out our below guides:
Technically, you could use most dog harnesses in the car too. However, you should be fairly sure that your pooch can’t escape the harness while you’re driving. In addition to this, the harness needs to be attached to a seat belt securely - and this is not possible with all walking harnesses. The easiest solution is probably to get a dedicated harness for the car.
In general, the back seat should be the safest option. If you want your canine companion to ride in the front, remember the rule that children small shouldn’t ride in the front seat due to airbag danger. This applies to dogs too - so either disable the airbag or stick to the back seat (recommended) (4).
A dog car harness is what allows you to make your dog “fasten” the seat belt. That means that a car harness will also only work if attached to some kind of a seatbelt, be it the real seat belt in your car or a special belt for the dog. In any case, the seat belt is attached to the back of the harness, thus preventing the dog from roaming around the car freely.
- “Do I need to restrain my dog when travelling in my car?” RSPCA. Retrieved October 5, 2020. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/do-i-need-to-restrain-my-dog-when-travelling-in-my-car/
- “Paws and secure your puppy” NRMA. Retrieved October 5, 2020. https://www.nrma.com.au/paws-and-secure-your-puppy
- Gordon Sala, R. January 26, 2014. “Incorrectly used collars, leashes can do harm” Retrieved October 5, 2020. https://nypost.com/2014/01/26/incorrectly-used-collars-leashes-can-do-harm/
- Miller, P. July 13, 2019. “Driving Safely with Your Dog”. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved October 5, 2020. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/driving-safely-with-your-dog/