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Hi, I have personally been using a crate in the car with our standard puppy who is not that big yet. But I am wondering what other standard owners do when they bring their dogs in the car. I have heard about harnesses. I'm just wondering what the normal practice is and if I should acclimate my puppy to being the car, not in a crate but restrained possibly? thank you
 

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I have a back seat hammock and the dogs wear harnesses that clip to the seat belt receiver. I would take your pup for short rides and to fun places to help make the car a thing that is enjoyed. They tend to just settle on their own.
 

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Thank you! Is it hard to train them to “behave” in the car?
I'd say every dog is different in that regard. My spoo has always been pretty good in the car. The only in car issues I've had are him chewing anything and everything, including floor mats, as well as some barking at people or dogs when pulling into rest stops / destinations. Oh, and there was that time he injured himself getting out of a truck, when he was overexcited by another dog outside the vehicle. So, whenever possible, make sure that your dog is calm, and in control, before giving it permission to exit the vehicle.
 

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My dogs (Standards) are always crated whenever they are in the car (minivan actually). Every ride, no matter how short, every time. For their safety and mine. And it is not just Standards that should be crated or restrained in some manner. Small dogs can be hurt or hurt you in case of an accident as well if they fly around the car. And if the dog is restrained, you know it can't get into any mischief that might cause you to be distracted when driving.
 
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I'm serious about keeping my dog as safe as possible in the car. I realize I can't protect her or myself 100% but I wear a seat belt and my dog wears what I believe is the safest product. a sleepypod harness. I don't have any relationship with this company but I found it to be the safest.

There used to be someone here on PF with a standard poodle who posted about her dog using a Sleepypod harness. This is where I first heard about it. There also used to be a video of a standard poodle getting into their harness and jumping into the car and getting the car seat belt attached. I don't know where that video went, shame it's not available because I found it helpful. I have a minipoo who wears the size small - for smaller dogs the company sells dog carriers.

I also discovered Subaru had done some testing of dog crates and harnesses using the same methodology and equipment as used to test child car seats. This grew into an independent organization Center for Pet Safety https://www.centerforpetsafety.org/pet-parents/cargo-area-connection-advisory/ I highly recommend you spend some time reading through their testing on crates and harnesses.

They recently tested two harnesses, one from Petco and one from PetSmart. It looks like the Good2Go from Petco passed in the size they tested but the PetSmart Top Paw Harness aka Solvit Deluxe Travel Harness aka PetSafe Harness failed.
 

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My dogs ride loose in the back. No harness, no tether. Cammie and Sam never try to come into the front. Bob used to jump into the front and sit in the driver's seat whenever I left them in the car. Very cute the way he took possession of the most important place. It is easy to train them to stay in the back when you are in the car. Not so easy (and not so important) when you leave them in the car to go to the store or something.

In my current car, the back seats flip up and the backs fold down. This give a totally flat surface that extends right up to the back of the front seats. I have that whole back area covered with thin foam rubber dog mats so it is comfortable for the dogs.

I am not comfortable with the way most cars just fold the back down on top of the back seat, leaving a gap between the space in the back and the back of the front seat. When I get a new car, I plan to leave the back seats up and get a seat extender like this: https://www.inthecompanyofdogs.com/itemdy00.aspx?T1=D151028+BK

So the dogs will just be in the back seat, but with no possibility of falling into the footwell.
 

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I think with any dog there are a number of issues to consider. First is driving safety - your dog needs to be trained or restrained so that it is not a distraction while driving. Second is routine safety - starting, stopping and cornering can be enough to tip a loose dog or one on a too long tether off the seat. Third is safety in the case of a crash - just as with humans, you cannot make the dog 100% safe, but you can do a great deal by ensuring it is held by a suitable restraint or crate, and travels within the roll cage of the car. This is not just a matter of the dogs safety - a dog flying through the air can severely injure humans in the car. Choose carefully - too many restraining tethers and harnesses are outright dangerous (see the crash test videos). Finally there is the danger of a dog escaping in a crash or other emergency - again, a suitable restraining crate or harness may be enough to keep them safe, and microchipping and ID disk will help to reunite you should the worst happen. For my small dogs a crate secured on the back seat has worked well for us; for a large dog I think I would go for one of the (very few) crash tested harnesses, perhaps with a backseat crate for the puppy months.
 

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fjm that is an excellent summary of all of the considerations that have to be made. Distracting from driving and the risk of escapes or being ejected from vehicles are things that people need to pay attention to and plan for mitigating against along with safe restraint as best as possible. In my area I often see dogs with heads hanging out of windows, heads and front legs hanging out of windows and little dogs on driver's laps. Just yikes.
 
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I think a crate is perfect and no reason to change if your dog is happy in it, just be sure the crate is tethered so it will not fly out in case of an accident. My dogs are tethered to a seatbelt They o wear a collar, even though Renn is in a prong, I use a flat collar in the car. I do think a harness would be best . I also have a hammock type cover on the seats so he doesn't scratch them up, and covers for the doors as when he would get excited he would try to reach and paw them, now not so much but the covers are there. He is never permitted to get out of the car , until I free him. I alway say wait while I unclip him from the the take his leash and say free. I hope by doing this one day he doesn't just bolt out. I do the same at home in doorways leading to outside.
 

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My dogs ride loose in the back. No harness, no tether. Cammie and Sam never try to come into the front. Bob used to jump into the front and sit in the driver's seat whenever I left them in the car. Very cute the way he took possession of the most important place. It is easy to train them to stay in the back when you are in the car. Not so easy (and not so important) when you leave them in the car to go to the store or something.

In my current car, the back seats flip up and the backs fold down. This give a totally flat surface that extends right up to the back of the front seats. I have that whole back area covered with thin foam rubber dog mats so it is comfortable for the dogs.

I am not comfortable with the way most cars just fold the back down on top of the back seat, leaving a gap between the space in the back and the back of the front seat. When I get a new car, I plan to leave the back seats up and get a seat extender like this: https://www.inthecompanyofdogs.com/itemdy00.aspx?T1=D151028+BK

So the dogs will just be in the back seat, but with no possibility of falling into the footwell.
I would be way to concerned about what could happen in an accident to allow my dogs to ever ride free in a car. If you get in an accident, unless very minor and low speed, the dogs are going to go flying around the car and can smash into things and hurt themselves when they might not have if restrained or crated, or potentially hurt you if they fly into you. They could also get out of the car if windows are broken, etc. and you are hurt, unconscious, unable to get out of your seatbelt, whatever, to get them and get hit by a car or lost if they run from the accident scene in fear. Just seems foolish to take a chance in my opinion. No one ever thinks they are going to get in an accident when they leave the house, but things happen beyond our control....
 
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