UPDATE: Thanks for your interest in this article – you’re clearly interested in keeping your pets safe in the car. You should know that, based on the results of crash tests performed by the Center for Pet Safety in 2013, we’re using different harnesses to buckle up Ty and Buster. Check out this post on our new dog safety harnesses.
Seat belt for you. Seat belt for your kids. Seat belt for your pets.
It’s a motto we believe in firmly. But when you’re looking for just the right car harness for your pet, the choices can be overwhelming. To help you narrow it down, we put two popular harnesses to the test.
Buster was hoping that this new harness would distract me from the fact he was on the sofa while we were driving. Nice try, buddy!
The Bergan harnesses are made of high quality, durable materials. We had no problem fitting them to the dogs, but getting the boys to help put them on was more of a challenge. Both front paws must go into the proper place in the harness, which you then lift up to close a clasp at their shoulder blades. Getting both paws in the correct holes worked best when we laid the harnesses on the floor and let the dogs step into them.
Once the clasp is fastened, a piece of fabric folds down and you can then attach the tether (included) to the loops in the back. The other end of the tether attaches to the seat belt strap. The tether itself is made of the same high quality webbing as the harness, has two heavy-duty carabiners that attach to the harness and seat belt strap, and is adjustable to give your dog space to turn and lay down.
Overall, I liked the look and fit of this harness, and the dogs seemed comfortable in them. I also appreciated the fact that Bergan has developed an industry standard for testing the durability of pet restraints, which is available to all manufacturers, and that this harness meets their standards. One problem I encountered was that Ty managed to get out of it twice, without the clasp opening … maybe I wasn’t as successful at fitting it as I thought! Also, the clasps on the leashes we had were too small to attach to the carabiner on the harness for potty breaks during a trip.
Bergan offers a 1 year limited warranty against product defects and retails for between $23-33, depending on size.
The Kurgo harness also seems to be well made, though perhaps slightly less durable than the Bergan harness. With five adjustment points, it took a bit longer to fit these harnesses to the dogs, but I had no trouble doing it – other than getting the dogs to sit still. It’s also easier to get this harness on, slipping it over the dog’s head and passing the straps around their legs to attach the buckle.
Rather than a tether, the Kurgo harnesses come with a seat belt loop. You attach the carabiner to the back of the harness and then pass the seat belt though the loop and click it into the receptacle. Though the seat belt loop is not adjustable, it is made of the same webbing as the harness, and the carabiner is the heavy-duty variety.
I like the look of this harness and how easy it is to use. The durability of the all-metal hardware is great, and it gives the harness a snappy design. I also like that you can attach any leash to the D-ring on the back when you get out of the car to stretch your legs. But I’ve never been a fan of the seat belt loop. Buster and Ty like to stand up, turn a circle or two, and reposition themselves. The seatbelt loop doesn’t allow that range of movement. Kurgo does offer a zip line that would give them more room, but the way it attaches won’t work for us in the Winnebago.
Kurgo offers a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects on all their products. They will also repair or replace any product that has been damaged during normal wear and tear (including chewing!) for a nominal charge plus shipping and handling – for the life of the product. The Kurgo harness retails for between $23-30 depending on size. I have read reviews that some people found the sizing to run small, but the medium and large worked fine for Ty and Buster, respectively. The measurements from the packaging for each size are:
Disclosure: I received two free Bergan harnesses from on-line pet supply retailer, PetsHeadtoTail.com. I received two free Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harnesses from Kurgo Products. The opinions expressed here are my own based on my experience using the products. I did not receive any compensation for publishing this post.
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