My spouse and I travel extensively with our Cocker Spaniels, so having the best dog car harness and travel bag are must-haves. A car harness is important because unlike a canine seat belt, a car harness can help keep your dog secure in the event of a motor vehicle crash.
Crash-tested crates and crash-tested car harnesses are the best and safest ways for your dog to travel in a moving vehicle. Not all car restraints are made equally, and they are not all designed for the same shape and size dog.
You should never transport your dog in the open section of a vehicle whether the dog is crated, tethered, or not. Several states ban unrestrained dogs from being transported in the open section of a vehicle, including Oregon, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut as of this writing.
Sadly, there are currently no federal laws that require pets to be restrained inside a vehicle. In the United States, the only state presently recognizing driving with loose pets as an animal cruelty violation is New Jersey.
“My dog sits still most of the time and does not need a car restraint when traveling.”
“My dog would never allow me to restrain him in the car.”
“I don’t go on long trips, so I don’t need to buckle my dog up when traveling.”
Do any of the above statements sound like something you’d say? If so, this article will help you decide if a car harness is important for your dog and which one is the best choice.
According to The New York Times, ” In a typical 30 mile-an-hour head-on crash, a 50-pound dog flies forward with an impact force of 1,500 pounds.”
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am also an Etsy and Chewy affiliate.
I am being compensated by Sleepypod for an honest review of the products in this article. Sleepypod is not responsible for the contents of this post. Fidose of Reality only recommends products to our readers that we have tested and use with success.
What To Look For In A Dog Car Harness
First and foremost, the car harness should be approved by the Center for Pet Safety, which puts harnesses through rigorous testing.
A proper fit is most essential so that the harness is not too tight but snug enough to prevent your dog from escaping while allowing your dog to breathe comfortably.
Make sure your dog has some freedom of movement and isn’t completely tethered so there is no mobility. The harness should be comfortable and properly padded to prevent chafing.
Versatility is important if you want a car harness that doubles as a walking harness. Busy pet parents will appreciate not having to switch out between a regular walking harness and the car harness.
Secure attachment points are important so that the harness performs when you need it most. Your vehicle’s seatbelt should easily pass through the harness straps.
Ease of use is crucial for pet parents. No one has time to fiddle with complicated straps and buckles. Once you find a perfect fit for your dog, you won’t have to worry about setting it up again.
Washability is important, and most high quality dog car harnesses are able to be wiped down and treated with mild detergent if needed.
An S-clip that comes with the harness prevents the seat belt from retracting and locking in place. You are able to pre-set your dog’s ideal seat belt length with a S-clip.
PRO TIP: Never leave your dog alone in a car, but should you do this, unbuckle your dog from the harness. Your dog can become tangled in the harness or seat belt and injure themselves.
Why a Crash Tested Dog Harness Is Important
I met the founder of the Center for Pet Safety, Lindsay Wolko, at a pet bloggers conference, where she talked a lot about dog harness and safety in moving vehicles.
Lindsay’s interest in pet safety began when her dog Maggie was injured by a safety harness in 2004 a mission began that lead to eight years of consumer and pet products industry research. In 2011, after completing a ground-breaking pilot study, she founded the Center for Pet Safety,(CPS) a registered 501(c)3 research and consumer advocacy organization working on behalf of pet owners around the globe.
Wolko cautions consumers to investigate claims that a pet travel product has been crash-tested. Is there a video you can watch? If so, does the video show the entire crash sequence: acceleration, impact and the impact’s aftermath? If you can’t find that information, don’t believe the claims.
Of note, the Center for Pet Safety does not certify travel seats. Walko is concerned a dog may be ejected from the seat and can be injured from glass shards.
If you are in car accident, your dog becomes a projectile with high potential to be harmed, killed, or cause harm. If your dog is thrown through a window and survives, he will likely have injuries or may run away in fear and confusion.
The CPS crash-tests dog car seats and harnesses to make sure they have the proper safety features and fits dogs properly. The program is voluntary. If CPS certified, the manufacturer shows a commitment to meet independently developed safety standards.
Always look for the CPS Center for Pet Safety logo on products and learn more about CPS requirements.
Here’s the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness being tested with a 45-pound stuffed test dog:
How We Tested The Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness
I’ve used three different in-car harness on my Cocker Spaniels over the past 30 years. The one that is most reliable and outperforms all others is the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness.
I reached out to Sleepypod and told them how much we love the car harness, which doubles as a walking harness if desired. They asked if I’d like to write an honest review of the harness, Go Bag, and give some products away.
To formally test the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness we:
- Gradually introduced the car harness to our 16-month-old Cocker Spaniel, Alvin, because he had been using a large crate prior to this. To acclimate our dog, we kept the harness on him in the house for an hour each day, walked him on it in our neighborhood, and sat in the car with him wearing it a few times.
- Once Alvin was comfortable and used to the harness (he couldn’t care less about it), we embarked on a family vacation to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, home to Elvis Presley.
- I sat in the back seat of the car while my wife drove. I wanted Alvin to feel comfortable, I love having him by my side, and I was able to work on my laptop thanks to the Sleepypod Go Bag, but more about that shortly.
- Alvin wore the Sleepypod harness for potty breaks, short walks, and while in the car. The entire trip took 20 hours, but we broke it up with one overnight stay.
- On arrival to Graceland, we kept the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness in the car for all of our day trips.
Our Cocker Spaniel is used to wearing a harness, but if your dog is not, I recommend using it as a walking harness before transitioning to the car to prevent travel anxiety.
PRO TIP: Be sure to read our dog-friendly travel article if your dog is fearful of road travel or you’d like to learn how to have a safe road trip with your dog,
Pros and Cons of the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness
What Other Cocker Owners Say About The Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness
I asked members of my Club Cocker Facebook group why they use the Sleepypod Click It Sport Harness on their Cocker Spaniels when traveling. Here’s what they had to say:
“I use the Sleepypod Click It Sport harness for Owen and Buster Brown for walking especially on trips and then hook it through the seatbelts,” says Michelle Ream. “After doing a lot of researching I feel it’s the best harness to keep my boy safe on the market.”
Colleen Keough travels to sporting events and dog shows with her Cocker Spaniels. She says there is not enough room for a crate in her vehicle. Instead, she uses the Sleepypod Click It Harness and a seat protector.
Trent Todd has a word of caution for fellow Cocker parents.
“When Kirby was a puppy we were on our way to an emergency veterinary,” Todd explains. “He ate some carpeting and I found a staple near where he vomited it up. On the way, someone ran a stop sign and I had to dodge her vehicle. Kirby ended up flying into the glovebox door and onto the floor. He was whimpering but was okay. He has not been in the truck without being in his safety harness and belted in.”
FAQs About Our Choice of the Best Dog Car Harness
Amazon is the best place to get the Sleepypod Click-It Dog Harness.
Most adult Cocker Spaniels will need a small or medium sized Click It Sport Harness. My current Cocker Spaniel, Alvin, is the smallest Cocker I’ve owned to date. He takes a small. However, my Dexter was a bit taller and used the medium.
A small dog less than 17-18 pounds tends to have more fragile bone structure, so might be better protected in a carrier in the event of a collision. Check out Sleepypod’s crash tested carriers.
For dogs that are not yet fully grown and within 1 inch of the highest setting, consider sizing up. Make sure the harness fits tightly before using.
If your dog is full grown, consider sizing down. The fit should be tight, not loose, and fit only three fingers laid flat under the buckles once adjusted correctly.
Yes, watch the instructional video on YouTube for step-by-step easy-to-follow instructions.
Sleepypod is located in Pasadena, California. Call 626-421-6818 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and assistance.
How To Choose A Dog Travel Bag For Your Cocker Spaniel
Anyone who travels with their dog, especially a Cocker Spaniel, needs a sturdy, reliable, easy-to-clean travel bag. I took the Sleepypod Go Bag on our Graceland excursion to test it out.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing a dog travel bag for your Cocker Spaniel:
- Size and Capacity: Will the bag hold everything you plan to take with you?
- Durability: What is the travel bag made of and is the material durable?
- Comfort and Design: Is there a comfortable handle or straps? Is the design appealing to you?
- Security: Does the travel bag securely close and prevent items from falling out?
- Storage and Organization: Look for travel bags with multiple compartments to keep everything organized for ease on the go.
- User Reviews: What do other dog moms and dads have to say about the travel bag?
- Color Selections: Some pet parents prefer a certain color, so determine if this is important to you and if the travel bag comes in multiple color choices.
- Airline Compliance: If you plan to fly with the bag, be sure it meets safety and size requirements.
- Water Resistance: What if you get caught in the rain with the bag or something splashes on it? Is the bag water resistant?
Pros and Cons of the Sleepypod Go Bag
Where Can I Purchase the Sleepypod Go Bag?
BONUS TIP: I placed my Cocker’s water bottle and cooked meat in the insulated pouch when traveling. I then unpacked it at the hotel and the Sleepypod Go Bag became my shopping and travel pouch when I visited Graceland.
Enter Our Sleepypod Giveaway: Giveaway is CLOSED
Sleepypod is awarding one grand prize valued at approx. $249 to one lucky Fidose of Reality fan consisting of:
- A Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Harness
- A Sleepypod Power Leash
- A Sleepypod Go Bag
The winner gets his or her choice of color and size where applicable — dependent upon availability (if the item in the color/size combination is out of stock, the winner can select an item that is in stock or wait for the item to come back in stock).
THE WINNER WHO WAS SELECTED AT RANDOM IS: DEBORAH MAHONEY! THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED AND BE SURE TO CHECK OUT SLEEPYPOD!
How to Enter
Reply below in the comments with the name of the dog who would be using the prize pack from Sleepypod.
Must be 18 or older and reside in the USA. Read all rules and regulations. Randomly selected winner will be notified by email provided. Must respond in five business days or a backup winner will be drawn.
Giveaway closes July 7, 2023 at 11:59 am ET. Winner notified within 24 hours of giveaway closing.
One entry per person/email. Good luck!