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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

 

Doggy Comfort and Safety

 

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.

 

Since 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 Seatbelt Harness.

 

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.

 

The PRIMARY 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 Seatbelt Harness. 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.

 

WARNING: 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 CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE.

Speed-assist Paramedic's Knife

Temperature Inside Car

Paramedics assisted open knife with  belt cutter and glass breaker tool

Outside Inside Time to reach temperature
75 100 10 minutes
75 120 30 minutes
85 90 5 minutes
85 100 8 minutes
85 120 30 minutes
100 140 15 minutes
 

These photos were taken before I installed Reflective Cargo / Safety Nets that I built myself.

Kurgo seat cover deployed with center zipper up - gives the dog the entire back seat to get comfortable.

When a second passnger needs to sit in the back, the Kurgo Wander harness unzips in the center, and can be folded under the seat - the dog now shares the back seat with a passenger.

The following photos were taken after  I installed Reflective Cargo / Safety Nets that I built myself.

My dog has ample space to get comfortable for those long rides, and is safe behind the reflective netting. My dog Ninja behind the cargo safety net.
A dog's head - even a medium-sized dog - cannot fit between netting spaced 6 inches on center. Excuse me while I get a bit of a nap here.

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