Ninja loves the passenger seat when I have the tops of the doors off. She curls up, puts her chin on the padded, folded-over window and lets her ears flop in the breeze. She is not a big dog, but she has to sit in the seat to look out the window with the door tops installed, she gets tired of fighting the G-forces of turns, acceleration and deceleration, and then starts "squeaking" (crying) – it sounds like worn disc brakes.... it's cute, but it can drive you insane on a long trip.
Ninja is a PTSD
Therapy Dog, and goes with me everywhere, I decided it would be good if I could make the rear seat comfortable and safe for her. I started with the DIY safety nets to keep her safely inside, and purchased a Kurgo Wander Hammock Seat Cover. With the
center zipper up (left photo immediately below) she cannot fall onto the floor during deceleration or even "panic" braking. The heavy canvas cover protects the seat, and she can lie down with her head on the wheel well (or on a blanket or pillow next to the window) and be completely safe and comfortable.
If I have a
second (or third) passenger, I can disconnect the front of the Hammock
from the Roll Bar
(or headrest in a standard car or SUV with adjustable
headrests). A zipper in the center of the Hammock allows either left or
right sides (separately), or the both sides (together) of the front of
the Hammock to be folded under the seat to accommodate a passenger (or
two), and the dog can have the other half of the seat, or scoot over to
one side and the seat (and the dog & passengers) will still be
protected. There is an opening in the center of the Hammock for seat
belt clips, and on the sides, Velcro® closures to allow
passage of the seat belts.
If you just want to keep your dog confined to the back seat (or cargo area), you could get a Kurgo Backseat Pet Barrier and / or a
WARNING: Contrary to what anyone might tell you, a
Seatbelt Harness alone is insufficient to keep your dog safe in a car crash. Strapping a dog into the front seat with one of these harnesses and crashing the vehicle proved catastrophic to the pet in recent tests by the Center for Pet Safety, and was reported 6/23/2013 by CBS Philly Consumer NEWS. The video of the test showed (in slow-motion) what happens to a dog in a harness strapped to a seat belt. It ain't pretty! The test did NOT show an airbag deployment, but seeing as how the dog flew toward the dashboard in the test with his torso being twisted by the harness, an airbag deployment would
probably have been even more injurious (if not fatal) to the poor "Buster-Dog" test dummy.
Injuries to children by airbags is why we put small children in the back seat, and neck injuries caused by forward momentum is why rear-facing child seats are highly recommended.
In the setup below, my dog has a free run of the back seat, and should I fall asleep at the switch and crash the Jeep into a brick wall, the netting would keep my dog Ninja inside the vehicle, and her forward momentum would be absorbed by the hanging hammock and the padded rear seats. In addition, I usually store padded moving blankets between the seats and the hammock for sleeping on when we go camping, and this, I would think, would provide additional cushioning in case of an impact.
PURPOSE for using a harness restraint, was NOT as a "doggy seat belt",
but to keep my dog from leaning too far out the window when she's riding
in the front seat. I secured a DIY
9mm Kernmantle Accessory Cord
static leash to the center of a very taught rubber bungee
cord stretched tightly between the rear Roll Bar. The other end is
secured to the leash ring of a
The length of the leash is adjusted so that
the dog cannot maneuver her center of
gravity outside the window, thus,
she cannot fall out. The progressive tension provided by the (strong)
bungee cord, gently pulls her back into the Jeep and would help to
cushion an impact in the unlikely event of a collision.
Since the photos
below were taken, I replaced the DIY
rope nets with really cool-looking DIY
reflective cargo / safety nets,
the stock seats with custom racing seats
and the front seat belts with 4-point
restraints such as are used in racing cars.
While I am at it here, I want to warn pet owners (and parents of
children as well) that leaving your dog or your child in an unattended,
locked car is DANGEROUS, and AGAINST THE LAW. If I see a dog or a child
in a locked car, and the owner is not around, I take video and call the
police – and if they take more than 3 minutes to arrive, or the child is
crying, or the dog is panting, I don't wait at all. I use my glass
breaker and seat belt cutter and do what I gotta' do. The car owner can
argue 'how long' and 'how hot it was in the car' with a
judge & jury. No child or dog is going to suffer because I hesitated to
break a piece of glass or cut a seat belt. The chart below shows how
fast temperatures in a locked car can reach fatal levels.
Leaving a dog in a
Jeep with a Soft Top with the windows removed, should not be a problem;
just park in the shade, and leave a cool bowl of water for the dog
to drink. Leaving a child alone in a vehicle under ANY circumstances is