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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mini baby Remy is 6 months and deathly afraid of the car. He may have been traumatized by the long drive home from the breeder. I tried taking him for short rides in his crate, then in a Kurgo tru fit harness in the backseat, but he is so terrified that he shakes all over and then throws up.

I decided to start at the beginning getting him used to the car. Every day, we sit in the car in the driveway for a few minutes. I was sitting in back with him, but now I sit in the driver's seat with him in the backseat. He doesn't wear his harness since we don't go anywhere. I also give him lots of treats the whole time. He's still scared but at least he's not shaking and he will eat the treats which is a big step forward. This past weekend, we took him for a 2 minute drive in the neighborhood with Remy sitting in my lap in the back seat. I'm hoping to get him to feel comfortable by March 9 when he has an appointment with the groomer. Any tips on how to achieve this would be greatly appreciated.

My big question is, once I get him used to the car, should I use his crate in the back of my small SUV or should I use his harness in the backseat? Where is he safer? When I strap him in with the harness he almost seems pinned to the back seat. I'm wondering if the Kurgo is better for bigger dogs. I need something that will work for a normal size miniature poodle. The crate would be ok, I just want to use what is best and safest for him.

Remy is such a sweet little guy. I hate to see him suffer in the car, but I needs to learn how to ride in the car for all the fun adventures ahead. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
 

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My mini baby Remy is 6 months and deathly afraid of the car. He may have been traumatized by the long drive home from the breeder. I tried taking him for short rides in his crate, then in a Kurgo tru fit harness in the backseat, but he is so terrified that he shakes all over and then throws up.

I decided to start at the beginning getting him used to the car. Every day, we sit in the car in the driveway for a few minutes. I was sitting in back with him, but now I sit in the driver's seat with him in the backseat. He doesn't wear his harness since we don't go anywhere. I also give him lots of treats the whole time. He's still scared but at least he's not shaking and he will eat the treats which is a big step forward. This past weekend, we took him for a 2 minute drive in the neighborhood with Remy sitting in my lap in the back seat. I'm hoping to get him to feel comfortable by March 9 when he has an appointment with the groomer. Any tips on how to achieve this would be greatly appreciated.

My big question is, once I get him used to the car, should I use his crate in the back of my small SUV or should I use his harness in the backseat? Where is he safer? When I strap him in with the harness he almost seems pinned to the back seat. I'm wondering if the Kurgo is better for bigger dogs. I need something that will work for a normal size miniature poodle. The crate would be ok, I just want to use what is best and safest for him.

Remy is such a sweet little guy. I hate to see him suffer in the car, but I needs to learn how to ride in the car for all the fun adventures ahead. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
I've got Standards. I ALWAYS crate my dogs in the car, every time, every ride (in my case a mini-van) even if going 5 or 10 mins up the road from me to the park, beach, wherever. My dogs spend a LOT of time in the car as we train frequently (so travel to classes - usually anywhere from 30-60 mins there each way and then back again), and show frequently (so travel to shows - usually anywhere from 45 mins to 2-3-4 hours there each way and then back again). While I never like to think about it happening, in case of an accident, IMO, they are much better protected in crates than in a harness on the back seat which won't really keep them as safe in any kind of high impact or rollover crash. If you do decide to use a crate, make sure your dog is completely comfortable and relaxed in the crate in your house before transitioning to the car. A crate should always be a place a dog feels comfortable and secure. I crate train my puppies from the moment they come home to me so they don't give much thought to whether the crate is in my living room, my dog room, my van, etc. It's all good with them.

You might want to try some gingersnaps or ginger-based treats, that helps some dogs with nausea. In one of the places I show frequently, the trip home involves an hour and a half or so on a ferry across water that can sometimes be pretty rough depending on the weather. My dogs have never had an issue no matter how high the waves/rough the trip, they are out like lights in their crates LOL, but a friend whose dog can have an unsettled stomach has done well with it settling on the trip with gingersnaps... If all else fails, you can get a very mild sedative or anti-nausea prescription from your vet for a bit to try and settle and acclimate your pup to the car. I did once have a Standard that was fine for short trips of a couple hours or less, but stressed on longer ones. She did very well with a light Xanax prescription for several years for long trips and then ultimately outgrew her anxiety....
 
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I’m sorry Remy is not a fan of drives in the car. It’s good you are working to desensitize him to the car, it you should break it up into smaller steps. The key is very tiny baby steps, but you can repeat them many times in a day. If you see he’s getting stressed, take one or two steps backwards before working forward again. I’ve written several times on poodle forum how to break this up so I won’t repeat in great detail. Tiny steps are Remy getting into the car, treat, then out and back in the house. You jumped quite a few steps going from sitting in the back seat with him to a 2 minute drive - that’s too fast and can cause more problem. I was able to go from a dog refusing to get in the car and who threw up with a short drive to a dog who was fine driving long distance in a week - it’s doable. Baby steps,any times in the day with treats moving slowly at your dogs pace, not yours. Driving to Florida

Back seat is safer. I do have my mini in the front seat, but my car won’t set off the front seat airbag for any passenger under 40 pounds. Some airbags set off irrespective and if that’s what you have, never put a dog in the front seat.

Do not use any tether, that’s extremely dangerous. Here’s an article explaining the dangers: Extension Tether Advisory - Center for Pet Safety

Most crates are not safe in a crash, unless you buy the extremely expensive kind. They are fine if you are not in an accident, but they are too flimsy and fall apart easily if your car is hit. You never know when you will be in an accident. I was stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn onto a busy highway when someone rear ended me. You can’t predict these things.

I use a sleepypod harness for my minipoo and it’s the safest harness I’ve found after extensive research including checking poodle forum Here’s pictures of my dog. Car Restraints

I’m posting a link to sleepypod posts on the poodle forum. Look at the ones for the harness. You’ll find additional information Search results for query: Sleepypod


and this is worth watching.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Many thanks for your great insight. Remy is just getting used to his crate at home - he’s not rock solid yet. You also have me thinking because the crate I use in the car is wire and the crate he uses at home is plastic. Perhaps I should get him a plastic crate for the car too. What type of crate do you use for your dogs?
 

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The videos I’ve seen of crates in crash tests are horrifying.

The tether link above refers specifically to “extension” tethers. I don’t believe that includes the short seatbelt tether that is part of crash-tested systems, such as the Sleepypod. But you absolutely must use them with the correct harness. You don’t want to just clip them onto any old harness. That could have catastrophic results such as (I don’t even like typing it) decapitation.

We’ve tried two safety-tested car harnesses so far with no luck. The first didn’t fit Peggy’s proportions. The second is so heavy duty and uncomfortable, I can’t blame her for being wary of it. The search continues. :(
 

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I have gone down the rabbit hole of dog car safety videos a few times. I haven't managed to find a car harness that fits Annie either, and the crash test videos for crates are pretty horrific. I couldn't fit Annie's crate in my subcompact car anyways. I am skeptical of the harness crash test videos too. All of them show the dog in a seated position, often with non-articulated legs, or no rear legs at all! And then the large dogs end up hitting the seat in front of them because the tether is too long. Annie lies down the moment we are out of the driveway. I always wonder what the results are for that situation.

Right now the safest I can keep her is in the back seat, not the front seat. Never in the trunk of a vehicle (crumple zone). I have added a car hammock for the back seats to protect the seats, keep her from falling into the footwell if I have to hit the brakes, and prevent some of the risk of going through the windshield between the two front seat backs. Oh, and it keeps her from trying to crawl up to the front in a long car ride - potentially distracting me and causing a crash!

I always leave a leash on her in the car, so I can maybe get a hold of her if she somehow got our during an accident or even if she one day decided to jump out for some reason.
 

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Check with your vet on this, but generic or brand name Benadryl is usually a safe option if motion sickness is a factor. It can also be taken to reduce anxiety.

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For a still growing miniature, the Sleepypod brand may not fit just yet but is worth looking at.

I settled on the Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Dog Car Harness because it fit my boys better. They didn't pass the 2013 Subaru sponsored crash testing but reworked their harnesses and did their own testing.

Kurgo Crash Testing Information
has been tested at an established University testing facility using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for child restraint systems. It has been tested for dogs up to 75 pounds. See below for a link to the crash test report and videos.
Crash Test Report

Kurgo Crash Test Videos
The dogs in these videos are simulated dogs, weighted and built to be anatomically accurate for standardized testing. No actual animals were used in testing.
Crash Test Report

Their own site says to use the carabiner to attach the harness directly to the seat belt. The included tether is not to be used to attach the harness to the seatbelt. You want the carabiner directly attached.

"For maximum crash protection and to limit excursion, you should use the included carabiner to attach the harness to you car seat belt system. The carabiner has been tested to support 20 KkN or 4,500 pounds of force."

474089


The reason for clipping directly to the seat belt is to reduce "excursion" force and deceleration rate.

474090



Third Impact
Impact Sequence


The first impact occurs when an immovable object impacts another object (such as a car vs. tree, pole, another parked vehicle, or guard rail), leading to the passengers being launched forward violently.

The second impact happens next when the car comes to an abrupt stop. The body then impacts with the inside of the car the steering wheel, the windshield, the seatbelt or airbag, or the roadway/environment if ejected.

Lastly, the third insult or impact to the body occurs when the internal structures such as organs and tissues collide with the body cavities. For example, the aorta may tear as it propels into the thoracic cavity or ribs may puncture a lung or spleen. Third impact or insults go to the essence of trauma assessment and determination of injuries based on this violent energy transfer.

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Ruffwear is another brand apparently doing their own testing,


An option that I think is also worth considering is PupSaver, recommended by member Click-N-Treat.

I hope you like the PupSaver. It can be tricky to get it set correctly in the car. I think there's an installation video on YouTube.

What I like about the slow motion crash tests is you can see the dog gets flung forward directly into the car seat which absorbs the momentum and cradles the dog. This is the large version of the seat for dogs up to 45 pounds.

I taught Noelle to lie down and stay while I'm driving. Usually she falls asleep curled up inside her seat. You'll need a harness to attach the car seat to the dog. For obvious reasons, the collar is a bad idea. Good luck!
 

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I second desensitising in very, very tiny steps. It took several weeks to get Sophy from shaking and drooling the moment we got into the car to being reasonably relaxed on short journeys, although bad driving still makes her sick 12 years later! An enclosed crate helped enormously - she prefers not to see things whizzing by.

I think there are several things to consider when choosing how to restrain or contain your dog in the car. Firstly there is the safety of the driver and driving - a loose dog distracting you can make you a hazard to other road users. Then there is the safety and comfort of the dog under normal driving conditions. Accidents are, fortunately, rare events, and most crates if well secured within the car safety cage should stay reasonably intact - the danger is from impact against the sides of the crate. If you transport your dog in the crumple zone - the boot of a hatchback , for example - then the crate needs to be extremely crash resistant to be safe.

I use a canvas crate on the back seat, firmly secured with the rear seatbelts and well padded with washable bedding. For us this is a good compromise between safety and comfort - the dogs settle down and don't distract me, Sophy is not distressed or travel sick, and the occasional jolt (eg from a rear end shunt) may throw them against the side of the crate but no more. And there is less danger of them escaping from the car in case of accidents, or my needing to stop on a busy road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The harness I have is the Kurgo tru fit which is designed for the car and crash tested. Remy’s too small for the Sleepypod. Right now, we are only using the Kurgo for walking since he’s so afraid of the car. When I did use it in the car, I clipped him in exactly as shown in the images posted by Rose n Poos (thanks!) with the provided carabiner. The tether isn’t used as part of the restraint system. Maybe because he’s so small (10 lbs) or so scared, he seemed pinned to the back of the seat and unable to move around at all - just stuck in one position.

I’m anxious to figure out the best way to restrain him so that once he gets accustomed to being in the car, I can start trying to acclimate him to a restraint. My standard parti boy would not be restrained in the car so I never took him anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. That’s why I am determined to figure it out for my new baby.
 

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I think part of your decision will depend on the size of your dog and your car. Since you have a mini, you might be able to start with the same size crate you'll use at adulthood. In your situation a crate would be my preference. It's certainly easier to put a dog in and out of a crate.

I used Kurgo harnesses with Pogo and Snarky, because there was no way I could cram a pair of 42 inch crates onto the back seat of a Subaru Impreza. Each dog got buckled into his spot and could either curl up and sleep or sit up to look out the window. Pogo, as a small puppy, used to wail pitifully. He wanted to ride in my lap instead of the back seat. He got better when Snarky joined him on the back seat.

Both dogs eventually loved riding in the Subaru. Getting strapped into the Subaru meant they were going somewhere fun: the barn, the McDonald's drive through for chicken nuggets, a pet store, a visit with a friend.

Pogo hated the station wagon which replaced the Subaru. He couldn't sit up all the way without bumping his head against the roof liner. Snarky didn't mind and would sneak past us to jump in, hoping he would get a car ride.
 

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I've got Standards. I ALWAYS crate my dogs in the car, every time, every ride (in my case a mini-van) even if going 5 or 10 mins up the road from me to the park, beach, wherever. My dogs spend a LOT of time in the car as we train frequently (so travel to classes - usually anywhere from 30-60 mins there each way and then back again), and show frequently (so travel to shows - usually anywhere from 45 mins to 2-3-4 hours there each way and then back again). While I never like to think about it happening, in case of an accident, IMO, they are much better protected in crates than in a harness on the back seat which won't really keep them as safe in any kind of high impact or rollover crash. If you do decide to use a crate, make sure your dog is completely comfortable and relaxed in the crate in your house before transitioning to the car. A crate should always be a place a dog feels comfortable and secure. I crate train my puppies from the moment they come home to me so they don't give much thought to whether the crate is in my living room, my dog room, my van, etc. It's all good with them.

You might want to try some gingersnaps or ginger-based treats, that helps some dogs with nausea. In one of the places I show frequently, the trip home involves an hour and a half or so on a ferry across water that can sometimes be pretty rough depending on the weather. My dogs have never had an issue no matter how high the waves/rough the trip, they are out like lights in their crates LOL, but a friend whose dog can have an unsettled stomach has done well with it settling on the trip with gingersnaps... If all else fails, you can get a very mild sedative or anti-nausea prescription from your vet for a bit to try and settle and acclimate your pup to the car. I did once have a Standard that was fine for short trips of a couple hours or less, but stressed on longer ones. She did very well with a light Xanax prescription for several years for long trips and then ultimately outgrew her anxiety....
What type of crate do you use for the car, please? Is it the wire kind or the plastic type of carrier that is used for air travel? I wonder which most people would recommend for the car. I would also like to know about crate size, please. For a long ride, should it be much bigger than the dog? (Keeping in mind the advice for puppies to be kept in crates that don't have extra room they could use for their potty.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
At night, Remy sleeps in a medium size Petmate vari crate. It should be fine even when he is fully grown since he will only be 15 inches at the withers and under 20lbs. If I decide to go with the crate in the car, I’ll buy another one and put in the back seat as many recommended. Might give his Kurgo harness one more try first once I get him more acclimated to being in the car.
 

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This is what the Ruffwear tether looks like:

474097


It might provide a little more freedom of movement than the carabiner-style, but I’m not sure. The corresponding harness didn’t fit Peggy at all, so we never made it as far as the car.
 

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I prefer "airline" style crates. Zoe has a big one that she sleeps in at night and a smaller one for car use. A crate for use in a vehicle should be as small as is reasonable for better protection in a crash.
 

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This one is pricy but appears to have a good crash test rating:

 

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This one is pricy but appears to have a good crash test rating:
I have to admit to not always walking the walk but here's my reasoning for spending on crash tested safety apparatus.

It's cheaper than going to the ER.

To be clear - only a few of these tested below claim crash testing.





 

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Yep. Hard videos to watch, but they make a powerful argument for investing in car safety. Culturally, we’re largely spared the gruesome details of automobile accidents. It makes sense that most of us can’t envision the powerful forces at play in these moments.
 

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This is what the Ruffwear tether looks like:

View attachment 474097

It might provide a little more freedom of movement than the carabiner-style, but I’m not sure. The corresponding harness didn’t fit Peggy at all, so we never made it as far as the car.
That tether is fully integrated so it's likely ok. Here's their crash videos
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Since I have the Kurgo crash tested harness, does anyone have experience with a dog booster seat? They look comfy. If I got one, I could get him used to it in the house and then transfer it to the car. Booster seats have an adjustable tether that clips to the safety harness. I would need a booster designed for the backseat.
 

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I can't help with the booster seat but I have heard that it can help some dogs if they can see outside, if they're unhappy due to motion sickness.

My concern is that having Remy up off the seat will negate the safety hook up.

Car seat testing, same source.


These seats are all true booster seats so the pup is quite elevated.



I took a different approach and used bolster crate mats to give mine a bit of the home feel.

I don't have a photo of these in the car, but they each have their own side by side on the back seat.



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