Road Trip With Rover

Road Trip With Rover

Summer is finally here. And with the warmer months come road trips with your best buddy. But before you load up the kibble, water bowls, and toys be sure you have the proper travel gear to keep your pooch, you, and other drivers, safe on the road.
Written by Kathleen A. Hunter, MS | Above photo by Julie Clegg
Crates. According to the Center for Pet Safety, size does matter when it comes to crates and carriers for your dog. They state, “… it should be no more than six inches longer than the pet.” And, latch anchors or cargo straps must be “…strong enough to maintain connection during impact.” It is also important to keep in mind that a product tested for travel does not necessarily mean it has been crash tested or that it has passed the crash test.

With this in mind, The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) published their Crate and Carrier Crashworthiness report on July 30, 2015 rating the best crates and harnesses tested. In collaboration with Subaru of America, the study tested six crates and of those, the Gunner Kennels’ GI Intermediate crate was named the 2015 Top Performing Crate. The test criteria included “containing the test pet before, during and after the crash test ….” All the connection points, straps and cargo remained in place for the entire test. CPS states the Gunner crate is “… unlike any other crate we have tested. This is a significant travel device, with outstanding structural integrity.” It's designed for dogs up to 75 pounds and at $499 dollars, that’s a small price to pay for safety.

Carriers tested with comparable results were PetEgo’s latch system, which held the carrier in place and the test dog secure within the carrier the whole time. They also noted the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed, “performed exceptionally well.”

Wire crates are not recommended for travel in vehicles. They simply do not provide the protection necessary should you be in an accident. The website, Cars.com provides videos of the crash tests. I’ve watched a few and it is incredible the amount of impact even the slightest fender bender can create.

Car Guards. If you prefer not to crate your dog while traveling, the next best item to install is a car guard. Travall offers car guards that are custom fit to your specific vehicle, is easy to install and withstands the teeth of even the mouthiest of dogs.

Harnesses. Should you decide to harness your pup instead of traveling in a crate or behind a guard, here are some initial guidelines to follow as provided by the ASPCA: Allow two fingers to slip between each strap and the dog’s body and be sure to check the fit of the harness each time you put it on your dog to make sure it has not become too loose or too tight.

In October 2013, CPS and Subaru crash-tested a series of harnesses. Included were the Sleepypod Clickit Utility Harness, Klein Metal AllSafe, Cover Craft RuffRider Roadie, RC Pet Canine Friendly Crash Tested, Bergan Dog Auto Harness, Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength, and IMMI PetBuckle. The Sleepypod Clickit Utility Harness was the only pet restraint that earned a top score, providing “adequate protection to the dog and the passengers of the vehicle.” According to CPS, the main features to consider when testing a harness for optimal safety are that the “… pet harnesses must maintain the dog’s stability and restrain its movement.” Additionally, the harness must “… stabilize the spine of the dog and limit rotation in the event of an accident.” The remaining harnesses in the test group were found to have a less than optimal performance. In fact, three of the harnesses, the IMMI PetBuckle, Kurgo's harnesses for 25 pound and 75 pound dogs, and the Bergan in the 75 pound size “were labeled catastrophic failures.”

However, Kurgo has made significant improvements in their products since the 2013 report. According to Stephanie Fasi, who leads Kurgo’s public relations team, the Tru-Fit Smart Harness is now up to version three and has been crash tested for dogs up to 75 pounds. Primarily, this means their harnesses now have a tether strap which provides a third point of restraint for your dog. They also have a brand new product called the Impact Harness which has been tested for dogs up to 130 pounds. Additional information about their safety harnesses and the crash test videos can be found on their website kurgo.com.

It might take a few practice sessions to allow your dog to get used to the harness before venturing on a long distance road trip. It’s a small investment for a lifetime of safety for you, your dog, and other road travelers.

Comfort Features. Now that you have the safety pieces in place, it’s time for the fun features. If you are like me, you can’t have enough travel water bowls. Kurgo offers a variety of sizes and even one that is a water bottle for you and for your dog with a bowl built in -- I don’t know about you, but drinking out of the same water container with my dog must mean love.

After a summer of travel, your car will no doubt look like it’s traveled a thousand miles, whether you’ve made a hundred trips to the dog park or trekked cross-country and back. No worries, there is a product to give your wheels that “new car” look and smell. Kurgo's Car Care Upholstery Cleaner will wipe away the dirt, scuffs, and muddy paw print -- best of all, it’s toxic free.
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