Just as you restrain a child in the car, we urge all dog owners to secure their pets to avoid dangerous driver distraction, and prevent injuries to both the animal and other passengers.
Our tests showed that an unrestrained pet in the back seat of a car can hit the dashboard with enough force to cause serious injury, even at collision speeds below 20km/h.
With this in mind, we tested a variety of popular dog safety harnesses on the market, using life-sized and correctly weighted dog ‘dummies’. The testing was conducted by dropping weighted harnesses at speeds of up to 35km/h. The in-car testing was conducted using a specially modified crash test car at speeds of up to 20km/h.
Of the 25 pet harnesses tested across a range of manufacturers, all but two failed to restrain the test dummy, due to the use of weak plastic buckles similar to those used on most backpacks.
This showed that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common, low-speed crash.
The two that passed were the Purina Roadie harness, which proved effective at restraining dogs up to 35kg. While the more expensive Sleepypod Clickit harness tested as being more suitable for larger animals.
Here’s a shortlist of results for the 6 most readily available harnesses:
Purina 'Roadie' - Pass
Sleepypod 'Clickit' - Pass
Animates 'Car Safety Harness' - Fail
Black Dog 'Car Harness' - Fail
Masterpet '2 in 1 Car Harness' - Fail
Rudducks 'Car Harness' - Fail
(Source: NRMA Insurance Media Release 03/12/2013 ‘Paws and secure your puppy’ http://www.nrma.com.au/paws-and-secure-your-puppy)