What to Look for in a Dog Car Harness

Using a dog car harness can be beneficial for pet and owner alike when going on trips. Because they are so important for safety reasons, you should know what type of harness might work best for you and your pet.

Why You Should Use a Car Harness

Humans wear seat belts, so it makes sense that a dog should wear something like it. If you have a dog that likes to move around the car while it is in motion, either out of anxiety or excitement, this can be dangerous for the driver should. Also in the event of an accident or even an abrupt stop, your dog can be thrown and possibly break a bone or sustain other injuries.


Most harnesses are made of a thick nylon, and the width of straps varies from brand to brand. Bigger breeds obviously need thicker and stronger straps.

If you have a larger dog, consider getting a harness with metal buckles and joints, rather than plastic. Larger dogs will put more strain on a harness, and you do not want something snapping or breaking in mid-car ride.

Stay away from leather harnesses. If your dog is a chewer and might chew on the harness straps, consider something stronger that will better withstand his teeth, or a design that will be harder for him to get at.


Harnesses come in a few different styles and the one you choose should depend on your dog's behavior in the car and what makes you the most comfortable.

  • Tethers fasten to the round bar found in most makes of cars. It is designed primarily for back-seat riding, and while it will keep your dog from jumping all around the car, it may not offer as much safety and protection as some owners may want.
  • Vest harnesses work by utilizing a vest that wraps around your dog. The harness is attached to the vest, and then attaches to the seat. This may be a better option for smaller dogs.
  • For larger breeds, you might try a regular strap-harness. These straps loop around the dog's chest and shoulders, and fastens to the seat belt of the seat he is in.

Adjustability and Size

Because dogs come in such a wide variety of sizes, seat belt harnesses do, too. Smaller breeds will have different requirements than larger breeds. Obviously a bigger dog will need thicker straps.

Any good harness will adjust to fit different body types, as some dogs have wider chests than others even if they weigh the same or close to the same. Always look for a harness that is fully adjustable and take note of which straps you can customize.

Various Things to Watch for

  • Always pay attention to the weight restrictions listed for your particular harness. Never go over this weight limit, as your harness could snap or break and not work to the best of its ability to keep your dog restrained and safe.
  • Also make sure you are not keeping the straps too tight. Like with collars, you want them to be snug enough to do their job, without being too loose as to be slipped out of easily, or too tight as to cause discomfort.
  • Some dogs are pickier than others, and your pet may prefer one harness over another. Be willing to try more than one if you aren't positive of what you want.
  • Search for harnesses that are easily put on and removed. While you don't want your dog to be able to slip free on his own, you shouldn't have to struggle to get him in or out of his harness due to complicated designs.