More and more people are traveling with their pets and thinking of their safety. And as such, 2014 was a great year for new (or new to us) and innovative pet travel products. My dogs Maya and Pierson got to try out a few of them.
Pet Dek – We used the Kurgo Backseat Bridge for years and loved it. But then something better came along. The Pet Dek is flatter and much sturdier.
Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat – Shortly after we got the Pet Dek, a company contacted us about their new seat extender, the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat. Although I love the Pet Dek, I love the Flat Seat more! I think Maya and Pierson do too.
Car-Go Pop-Up Shelter – My dogs Maya and Pierson are too big to try out the Car-Go Pop-Up Shelter, but I love the concept. It’s a great way for smaller dogs to ride in the back seat of the car or in the cargo area of the SUV. The Car-Go can even be used in the home.
Allsafe Dog Car Harness– This is not a new product. It has been around in Europe for years. The AllSafe dog car harness is German engineered and has been crash tested both in Europe and the US. Its quality is phenomenal and I absolutely love it. It looks great on my Maya.
Variocage – This is another German engineered and crash tested product. It has been so well designed and so thoroughly crash tested that no other product on the market can come close to its quality. I don’t have an SUV so I haven’t been able to try the Variocage, but I really want to someday.
ClickIt Sport Dog Seat Belt – Remember the ClickIt Utility? It was rated as the #1 safest dog seat belt by the Center for Pet Safety in 2013. It is still #1 today. But it can be a little difficult to adjust and to use so Sleepypod improved it. The ClickIt Sport came out in December 2014. Doesn’t my dog Pierson look great in it?
These products look great, don’t they? I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer in regards to pet travel safety. Happy New Year!
We’re still here and ready to do some more blogging! It’s been an interesting year, for both Pet Auto Safety and for me personally. Let’s talk about Pet Auto Safety first, then I will explain why I haven’t been blogging for a while.
At the beginning of 2014, I told you some of our goals. Let’s see how we did:
More Funny Videos – Maya and Pierson starred in a cute video in 2013. We vowed to make more in 2014. However, we just made one (below). But we also made a couple of pet travel product videos. And we plan on making more videos, funny or otherwise, in the future. See these and other videos of my dogs at www.YouTube.com/naturebydawn.
More Pet Travel Articles – 2014 was a decent year for our article writing. We wrote several articles and also hired a good free-lance writer. The word about pet auto safety is getting gout there, but we need to write and publish many more articles in 2015. And we’d like to publish them in places other than our own websites. So if you know of a blog or magazine who would like to publish an article about dogs riding safe in the car, let us know.
WIPIN – Women in the Pet Industry Network – Thanks to a friend, I became a member of WIPIN in 2014. It is a great place to connect with other pet lovers and share business ideas. However, due to personal life circumstances, I did not take advantage of everything this group had to offer. I am not sure whether I will renew my membership in 2015.
Inc. to LLC – In 2014, we successfully changed the company from a corporation to an LLC. This change made some administration processes easier and I’m glad we did it.
Outdoor Dog Gear – We did not create a new website for outdoor dog gear, but we did set up a new page on Pet Auto Safety for outdoor dog gear. After all, dogs who ride in cars are usually going somewhere. And if they are going hiking or swimming, they can get some supplies from us.
AllSafe Dog Car Harness – We have been wanting the AllSafe dog seat belts for some time, but had difficulty acquiring them. Luckily, the opportunity finally came a few months ago. We now have the AllSafe brand and I couldn’t be happier.
Some of our other new products in 2014 include the Car-Go pop-up shelter, Portable Pet Flat Seat, the Variocages, and the ClickIt Sport.
Pet Auto Safety Infographic – We never did implement our idea to create an infographic. Whether or not we will do so in 2015 is still being debated.
As you can see, 2014 was a success for us in many ways. If we fell short in some areas, it was because of some personal events. If you’ve kept up with this blog and if you also follow me on my American Dog Blog, then you have some idea of what’s been going on.
In mid-2014, my husband transferred to another job in Des Moines, Iowa. Things were in upheaval for Pet Auto Safety as I worked to relocate both our home and the business and to refile all the tax documents in the new state.
Just before this move, I found out my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was progressing rapidly and the doctors were not optimistic that she would live for much longer. She surprised us by making a good recovery a couple months ago. But the recovery was short lived.
My mom passed away just before Thanksgiving. I’ve never lost a parent before and so it is very hard for me. The holidays have been especially difficult. I have still managed Pet Auto Safety’s retail activities, but I took a break from all other tasks, including blogging, article writing, and videos.
While I still miss my mom, it’s time to get back on track. If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, please do so now and look for another post for our Pet Auto Safety 2015 goals. Also subscribe to my American Dog Blog, where I will be making a tribute to the woman who taught me many things, including that dogs are family too and deserve to be as loved and cared for as any other member of the family.
Want to know how a dog car harness secures your dog? You’d think the answer would be simple. In a way, it is. For most, it is as simple as clipping it on and clipping it in. But what makes it complicated is that each brand works differently. Let’s take the top 5 brands and show you how each of them work:
The ClickIt Utility dog car harness has three connection points. This makes it one of the most labor intensive to use, but also the safest. First, put the seat belt of the car through the back of the harness. Then connect the two tethers on either side of the harness to each of the two latchbars located between the seat cushions. All cars 2001 and later should have the latchbars in the back seat.
Please note, the new ClickIt Sport coming out soon will not have the two side tethers.
Ruff Rider Roadie
The Ruff Rider Roadie also uses the seat belt of the car to secure your dog. Instead of going through the back of the harness, it goes through one of two loops on the tether. This tether is part of the harness and is not detachable. To give your dog more room to move, put the seat belt through the loop at the very end of the tether. To secure your dog more for safety, put the seat belt through the loop closer to the back of the harness.
AllSafe Dog Seat Belt
The AllSafe is also takes a bit more work to secure. First, you have to stabilize the seat belt of the car. Buckle it in without your dog. Then use the two red clips included with the harness to stabilize it. If the top part of the shoulder belt is like the picture indicated, then stabilizing is easy. If it is like mine where it comes out directly, then it can get a little troublesome. You have to make the shoulder belt lock, and then apply the red clip. This way the shoulder belt does not pull out when your dog moves. Once you have it stabilized, attach the tether to the seat belt. Once this is done, all you have to do is clip the tether onto the back off the AllSafe dog car harness.
Bergan Dog Car Harness
The Bergan brand is very easy to secure in the car. Either clip one end into the seat belt housing of the car, or clip it onto the latchbar. Then clip the other end to the back of the harness.
Kurgo Dog Seat Belt
The Kurgo Tru-Fit and the Kurgo Go Tech brands are also very easy to use. Simply put the seat belt of the car through the loop tether, and then clip the other end of the loop tether to the back of the harness. Kurgo also has the option to buy a direct connect tether, which clips directly into the seat belt receptacle.
Which Dog Car Harness is Best?
Determining which dog seat belt is best depends on your preference. While the Bergan and Kurgo are the easiest to attach, the ClickIt, Ruff Rider, and AllSafe are the safest. At the same times, the safest brand may also be the most uncomfortable for some dogs because they can’t move much. Keep this in mind and balance safety with your dog’s comfort. A super-safe dog car harness is not going to help if your pet is so uncomfortable that he chews it off.
One great thing about running Pet Auto Safety is that we get to try out all the products. Our recent acquisition is the AllSafe dog seat belt. And the lucky dog that gets to try it out is our lovely Labrador Retriever, Maya.
Maya presents a number of challenges when it comes to dog car harnesses because she doesn’t sit still. She’s got to stand up and stick her little brown nose wherever she can get it, sometimes in my ear. She also has a deep narrow chest, which occasionally makes harnesses pull to the side rather than hug the chest. Did we have these issues with the AllSafe? Let’s see.
First, though, let me give you my first impression of the AllSafe dog car harness. When I pulled it out of the box, I was absolutely amazed. The quality is fantastic. It is obviously very well made and highly durable. The straps are thick and sewn together very well. There are no plastic pieces on this seat belt, just strong webbing and very strong steel parts.
PUTTING ON/TAKING OFF
The AllSafe dog car harness does not clip on like most other dog seat belts do. As demonstrated in the below video, you have to pull your dog’s legs through the leg holes. Maya makes it look easy, but I can see how this might be a challenge for other dogs that are not yet used wearing a car harness. Because of my experience and because of Maya’s cooperation, I personally found the AllSafe very easy to put on.
SECURING IN THE CAR
It was very simple to secure my dog Maya in the car with her AllSafe harness. There was a bit of a misunderstanding with the instructions. Apparently, my box had the wrong instructions. But when I notified the company located here in the US, they walked me through the right way. Their customer service was fantastic.
Maya wore her harness perfectly. She could still stand up, sit, or lie down, but not enough that she could stick her wet brown nose into my ear. This restriction is a good thing because it means if we are in a car accident, Maya will not be jerked around. A longer tether means more freedom and comfort, but it also means less security. I find the ClickIt the most restrictive and the Bergan the least. On the other hand, the Bergan is more comfortable and the ClickIt is the least. The AllSafe is right in between both.
The chest piece of the AllSafe still went off to the side if Maya tried to move around. But that is Maya’s fault because she won’t be still. If Pierson were to wear this harness, he would not have any trouble at all because he stays in one spot.
The AllSafe is very comparable to the ClickIt Utility in both quality and safety. The ClickIt Utility had a better safety rating from the Center for Pet Safety, but the AllSafe rated nearly as well. One drawback of the ClickIt Utility is it has three connection points that can make it more of a hassle to secure your dog in the car. It can also be more difficult to adjust for sizing. (Both these features of the ClickIt Utility are changing, though, with the release of the ClickIt Sport before the end of this year.) The AllSafe allows for the harness to be used as a walking harness much easier than the ClickIt Utility.
Overall, I am very pleased with the AllSafe. It is more expensive than most brands, but it is worth every penny.
It’s been a month since our last participation in the Barks & Bytes blog hop so we have a lot to cover. I’ll try very hard to be brief. First off, if you haven’t done so already, say Happy Birthday to my Maya who turned 7 at the end of August!
IMPROVED PET DEK
In a review of the Pet Dek that I made back in July, I mentioned how one of the legs kept coming off but I fixed it with a washer. The manufacturer of the Pet Dek saw my post and wanted to let me know that this issue has been fixed and is no longer a concern. Honest reviews really pay off!
FREE SHIPPING ON FLAT SEAT
The Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat is a comparable product and for the month of September, we are offering free shipping.
On Wednesday, September 10th, we shared the photos of three adorable Frenchies: Arnold, Belle, and Wilbur. Their mom first purchased the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat from us. And when she found out we were also in Iowa, she explained how difficult it has been for her to find a dog car seat belt that would fit the odd shape of a Frenchie. And so I offered to visit her in person to try some on. The Kurgo Tru-Fit brand fit them nicely, but the Bergan dog seat belt fit even better. So Arnold, Belle, and Wilbur all have one and they wore them on their recent road trip.
If you haven’t heard of Flea from DogTreatWeb for Jones Natural Chews, then you’re really missing out. Her blog is funny and Flea is such a heartwarming person. We (Maya, Pierson, and I) have been lucky enough to have been able to meet her on two occasions. Once, during the holidays when we made our annual road trip from Kansas to Texas. And the second time just a couple of days ago as she traveled from Oklahoma to Illinois. It was a wonderful visit and Maya and Pierson were extremely spoiled with the Boo Bucket and other treats from Jones Natural Chews.
Remember earlier in the year where I mentioned one of our goals was to acquire the AllSafe dog car harness? Well, we finally got it! As of yesterday, the AllSafe pet seat belt is officially available on PetAutoSafety.com. For now, it has free shipping. This may change later so if you’ve been wanting one, now is the time to get one. Maya has hers already. Keep an eye out on this blog for our review.
The company that provides the AllSafe dog seat belt also has the VarioCage. If you haven’t heard of it before, it is the absolute best car cage on the market. We don’t have this one on our website yet, but it will be available before the end of the month.
LOST DOG COMMENTS
A special thanks to Barbara from K9sOverCoffee and Lindsay with ThatMutt for adding two more means to find a dog lost after a car accident. Post fliers, contact a radio station to see if they will mention the lost pet, and contact shelters and rescue groups every day to see if anyone has brought in the pet. I can’t believe I didn’t think of these. Thank you!!!
Thanks for stopping by, everyone and enjoy the rest of your week!
Having your dog wear a dog seat belt in the vehicle is a great way to keep them from distracting the driver. But you also want them to be safe, right? However, if your dog rides in the cargo area of your hatchback or SUV, you need to know that securing them to cargo rings may not be adequate.
The Center for Pet Safety, a nonprofit research facility for pet products, has recently reported that cargo connections may not have the necessary strength to hold your dog. This means the cargo ring can break if your dog is in a car accident, or even if your dog just pulls on it hard enough. Contact the vehicle manufacturer to find out what amount of force those cargo rings can withstand.
When we rented an SUV one year in order to make our annual trip from Kansas to Texas, we looked diligently for an SUV that had metal connections in the cargo area for Maya and Pierson. We did not find any. As a result, we found a way to connect their dog seat belt harnesses to the safety belt housing of the car located under the seat. However, the Center for Pet Safety advises against this as well.
If you need to have your dog ride in the cargo area, you may need to install a more secure connection in the cargo area. You can also opt to have your dog ride in a crate instead. Just be sure the crate can be secured in place.
We will soon have another option for dogs riding in cargo areas. By the end of September, you will see the VarioCage available on our PetAutoSafety.com retail site. The VarioCage is very expensive but it is also extremely durable. It has been extensively crash tested and even real-life situations have shown that the VarioCage remains intact.
Safety for our pets when we travel is very important and vehicle manufacturers are coming to realize this. More and more car commercials show a dog harnessed in the car. So if you have a vehicle with a cargo area and it doesn’t have cargo rings or just has plastic cargo rings, tell the manufacturer that you want this feature. You may not be able to get it this time around, but they will hear you and hopefully install better connections in future models.
We read a lot of articles about pet travel and have come across more than a few handfuls where a dog involved in a car accident runs away from the scene and is lost for days. We’ve also followed up with many of these articles and have learned the situations where the dog is found. Most of these reunions have elements in common that can help you if your dog escapes from a terrifying situation.
Return to the Scene
Believe it or not, in most cases where a dog runs away after being in a car accident, he is found within less than a mile of the scene. In some cases, he is actually found at or near the area where the wreck took place. If the accident is on a busy roadway, he is probably going to stay some distance back. Look in nearby areas with lots of foliage or other places to hide.
Trauma Makes Dogs Wary
A dog involved in a traumatic situation is very likely to be skittish with strangers, even normally friendly dogs. If you are helping to locate someone’s lost dog, make sure you have their number handy. If the dog moves away from you when you approach, stop approaching them and call for help.
Since traumatized dogs tend to be shy, putting live traps in areas where there have been sightings can help you catch him when you’re not around. A shy dog may also avoid broad daylight. He may hide during the day, and then seek food and water in darker hours. A live trap will help attract the dog and hopefully catch him when people aren’t able to be out searching.
Alert nearby neighbors, notify the local animal shelter and animal control, let the police know, and contact local rescue groups for help. Perhaps even call the local news stations. More than any of the others, individuals from dog rescue groups seem to be the people who most often answer the call to help. They can also be a great resource for getting live traps. Contacting local vet clinics is also a good idea for in case someone brings in a dog that needs medical attention.
Social Media Helps
There are a number of Facebook pages dedicated to finding lost pets. Sometimes pages are created by a family attempting to locate their own lost pet. The people who come together to help are amazing. They share posts, thereby spreading the word about a lost pet, they offer personal assistance with looking for the pet, or they may even have other ways to help. If your dog is missing, post it on CraigsList, Facebook, G+, Twitter, community classifieds, and anything else you can think of.
Protect Yourself from Scammers
Because you are posting the information about your dog publicly, there is a chance you will be contacted by scammers claiming to have found your dog but are wanting money before they return him. The most common scam is from people claiming they were traveling when they found your dog and they want money before they make the long drive back. Don’t fall for it. It is a good idea to withhold a very specific trait about your dog when posting public lost ads. Perhaps your dog has a scar somewhere or a specific mark that is not noticeable in photographs. If a person claiming to have your dog is unwilling to verify specific marks, then they probably don’t really have your dog. A person with the heart enough to pick up an abandoned dog is not likely to ask you for money or be difficult about getting the dog back to you. However, if you are convinced that such a person may, in fact, have your dog, insist on meeting them in person and in a public place before giving them money and see if the police will escort you.
Many of these tips can help in other situations, not just a car accident. If you have any additional tips that might help, please comment below.
(This is not an official study. It is merely an observation we’ve made based on online reports. There are probably a number of situations that were not reported and may not fit in these scenarios. If you’ve lost your pet, consider all options and don’t give up.)
I posted a little bit about my road trip with my dogs, Maya and Pierson, on my American Dog Blog, but I thought I would share a few more details here. Namely, what I did to prepare and how we made sure our travel was comfortable and safe.
TO TAKE THE DOGS OR NOT TO TAKE THE DOGS
A few months ago, I made arrangements to see an alternative medicine doctor for my fibromyalgia in Wichita, Kansas. It is a five-and-a-half hour drive so we opted to drive. As always, we had to take the dogs into consideration. Despite living in Iowa for only a short time, we have met people we could trust to care for our dogs if we left. However, my husband couldn’t go and as a female I didn’t want to travel alone. And so I opted to take both dogs with me.
I would have two doctor visits on two consecutive days, so we needed a place to stay. The medical office gave me a list of nearby hotels. However, they either didn’t allow pets at all, only allowed pets under 20lbs, or charged over $100+ per night. And so I chose the trusty Motel 6. I knew they were both inexpensive and pet friendly. And after our recent pleasant experience at a Motel 6 in Oklahoma, I hoped the one in Wichita would be the same. I was not disappointed. Check out my reviews of this Motel 6 on my American Dog Blog from both the link above and from the August 29, 2014 post.
> Don’t Leave Dogs Alone in Hotel Room
One thing I did not take into consideration during my stay at Motel 6 is that you are not supposed to leave your pets unattended in the room. I should have made doggie day care arrangements for Maya and Pierson, but didn’t think about it.
Most hotels have this rule about leaving pets and I understand why. When some dogs are left alone, they bark or will do damage to the room. Also, there could be problems when the cleaning staff tries to enter the room. Thankfully, Maya and Pierson are familiar with traveling and do well when left alone in a strange place. Pierson had his no-bark collar on. I also put a do not disturb sign on my door so the cleaning staff would not enter.
I won’t tell you everything I packed for myself, but I will tell you I made sure I had plenty of food and drink for the road trip so that I wouldn’t have to run into a convenience store and leave my dogs alone in the car. For Maya and Pierson, I packed enough dog food for two nights, water, their food and water dishes, leashes, dog car harnesses, vet records, pet first aid kit, Petz on Board sign with emergency contact info, dog beds, poo bags, treats, and the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat.
I opted to take my husband’s car instead of mine. My car is a 1998 model and has been salvaged twice so I don’t want to drive it that far if I don’t have to. I covered the entire back seat of my husband’s car with a sheet and set up the Portable Pet Travel Flat Seat. I also connected the tethers of their dog car harnesses to the seat belt housings. Maya wore the Kurgo Go-Tech and Pierson wore the Ruff Rider Roadie. (Maya usually wears the ClickIt Utility dog seat belt, but it is so restrictive I didn’t want to use this one for such a long journey.)
> Calming and Preventing Car Sickness
About 20 minutes before the trip, I applied Travel Calm from Earth Heart to both Maya and Pierson. Maya needs it because she is so excited in the car and drives me nuts with her happy whining. Pierson sometimes gets car sick and Travel Calm also helps with this.
Both dogs did very well on the drive to Wichita, but Maya was a pesty-poo on the way back home. I’m not sure if she was uncomfortable or what, but the Travel Calm did not work this time. She whined so much that I made several stops thinking perhaps she had to go to the bathroom. She didn’t. In any case, it took much longer for us to get home.
> Don’t Leave Dogs Alone in the Car
I didn’t have to stop for a restroom on the drive to our destination, but I had to stop for myself on the drive back. I hated to leave my dogs in the car, but I had no choice. Pets are not allowed in public restrooms, period. Luckily, I pulled up next to some nice ladies and asked if they could keep a short eye out for my pups. They were happy to oblige. I wouldn’t always trust this tactic, but you gotta do what you gotta do and I like to think that most people are relatively trustworthy.
Have you taken any recent road trips with your dogs? Please leave a comment below. If you’d like to do a guest post on your pet travels, email me.
When the ClickIt Utility came out in the fall of 2013, it was rated as the safest dog car harness by the non-profit organization, The Center for Pet Safety (CPS). It is a fantastic seat belt that helps keep your dog very secure in the car. But since it is a brand new design, it has a few drawbacks. One, it is difficult to size and adjust. Two, it is a little bulky for smaller dogs. The company that designed the ClickIt Utility has listened to our feedback and designed the new ClickIt Sport.
The ClickIt Utility dog car harness is heavier and bulkier, which makes it less than ideal for some dogs. The ClickIt Sport promises to be lighter in weight but still have the same safety durability.
EASIER TO USE
The ClickIt Sport still has three points of contact and so will still be very restrictive. However, it is easier to connect these three points on the ClickIt Sport than it is on the ClickIt Utility. It no longer requires the latchbar connections so it can be used in older cars.
The sizing is more adjustable, allowing it to fit a larger range of dog shapes and sizes.
Not only did Sleepypod, the company that designed the ClickIt Sport, crash test this pet travel product themselves, they also had it tested by an independent nonprofit organization called The Center for Pet Safety (CPS). If you recall, CPS did an extensive crash test study on 11 dog seat belts in 2013. They have since streamlined their studies and offer a CPS certification to any company who wants their dog seat belts tested. This is a voluntary service and the tests are rigorous. As of the date of this post, the ClickIt Sport is the only dog car harness to have received the CPS Certification.
A new infinity loop design (patent pending) reduces the pressure on a dog in a car accident and eliminates the need for metal hardware. It is now easier to attach a leash to the ClickIt Sport for walking. And the harness now has added reflector strips.
COMING THIS FALL
We don’t yet know when in fall the ClickIt Sport will be available, but we are staying on top of it and hope to have them in no more than a week after Sleepypod releases them. So stay tuned!