Best in-car dog guards and harnesses
We test 11 of the best in-car dog guards and harnesses to see which keeps your beloved pooch safe on the road
Using a dog restraint or guard can be as important as putting on your seatbelt. It’ll help keep you and your four-legged friend safe in an accident but will also help prevent mishaps in the first place, by stopping man’s best friend from distracting the driver.
There is a bewildering array of options, ranging from just a fiver to a wallet-wincing £115. So which is the best for you and your dog? With the help of Doris, we tried 11 universal options to find out.
How we tested them
For the restraints, we enlisted the help of Doris the poodle to judge ease of use. Then we tried universal-fit dog guards in two cars – a Land Rover Discovery 4 and Vauxhall Astra – to see if they fitted well in a pair of quite different vehicles. We judged their ‘dog proof’ abilities, how easy they were to fit, and whether they damaged the car and remained rattle-free on a journey. Final factor was price.
There is a bewildering array of products aimed at dog lovers, and our best advice is to find something that works best for your car and your pooch. For restraints, the Musonic Dog Safety Vest Harness offers great value for money. At the other end of the scale, the Petego EB Jet Set Jumbo Isofix is a luxury treat for your vehicle and pet. Our top guard was the Halfords Mesh, but you could save cash by choosing the similar RAC model.
- Halfords Mesh Headrest Dog Guard
- RAC Advanced Mesh Dog Guard
- Sakura SS5259 Headrest Dog Guard
- Musonic Dog Safety Vest Harness
- Petego EB Jet Set Jumbo Isofix
- RAC Car Safety Harness
Halfords Mesh Headrest Dog Guard
Price: Around £40Rating: 5 starsContact: www.halfords.com
Halfords’ best-seller was by far the easiest to install, with a tall central panel and two smaller, moveable square pieces to tailor the guard and cover gaps. Once set up, it can be easily removed in a few seconds for storage or use in a different car. It was easily adaptable between our low-roofed Astra and tall Discovery, too. It remained rattle-free and there was no risk of damaging any trim.
RAC Advanced Mesh Dog Guard
Price: Around £28Rating: 4.5 starsContact: www.amazon.com
This looks virtually identical to the Halfords Best Buy. The mesh parts seem the same, but the attachments aren’t, with a selection of different-length hooks to attach to the headrest posts. We found it slightly more fiddly to use. Although this guard is £49.99 on the RAC website, we found it for just £27.30 on Amazon – cheaper than the better Halfords guard.
Sakura SS5259 Headrest Dog Guard
Price: Around £18Rating: 3.5 starsContact: www.amazon.com
Although it’s fiddly to fit and doesn’t feel great quality, there’s no denying the Sakura is well priced. You’ll need strong hands to click the pieces together, but once it’s been assembled the guard works well enough. It isn’t as tall as the others, though, so while it filled the Astra’s gap perfectly, it left a big space in the Discovery. For small cars and short pets, it could be a good-value option.
Price: Around £50Rating: 3 starsContact: www.roofbox.co.uk
Unusually, this doesn’t use a mesh. Instead, it has telescopic poles that extend sideways and upwards. Two clamps attach it easily to the rear headrests, and its high mount means the parcel shelf can still be used. It lost points because it clashed with the central seatbelt mounting in the Discovery, but it could be used in the Astra. There was an irritating buzz during the road test, however.
Price: Around £5Rating: 3 starsContact: www.amazon.co.uk
Barriers don’t get much more basic, but it could work as a guard if your dog isn’t too feisty. The fine-meshed net plus hooked or looped bungee cords can be attached to any solid points such as grab handles and tie-down hooks. It worked best when attached to the front seatbacks to stop pets climbing into the front. It can be kept in the glovebox, so it’s great as a spare for unexpected trips.
Halfords Easy Access Dog Guard
Price: Around £70Rating: 2.5 starsContact: www.halfords.com
A unique feature lets you open a sliding panel from inside the passenger compartment to secure the dog in the boot before opening the tailgate. This stops them running on to the road. It’s clever, but the rest of the guard is heavy and badly engineered. It took an age to assemble, not helped by poor instructions and a dead QR code link to a video guide. It was secure, but rattled when driving.
Musonic Dog Safety Vest Harness
Price: Around £11Rating: 5 starsContact: www.amazon.com
This vest was by far the easiest to get on to our reluctant dog Doris, going over her head and then fastening under her belly. It could be used with a conventional lead for walks and then, once back at the car, swapped to a strap that fastened easily into a standard seatbelt point. Once attached, it kept Doris safely tethered without straining her neck.
Petego EB Jet Set Jumbo Isofix
Price: Around £115Rating: 4 starsContact: www.roofbox.co.uk
This alternative to a harness will look after your interior as well as your dog. It could even be used for a cat or other pet. It’s pricey, but it feels like a quality item, with a soft interior and plenty of zips and roll-up flaps to give various options for nervous animals. It can be folded for easy storage when not being used. Just like baby seats, it has tethers to attach it to the car’s Isofix mountings, and the maker claims it has been crash tested, too.
RAC Car Safety Harness
Price: Around £9Rating: 3.5 starsContact: www.amazon.com
It wasn’t easy to persuade Doris to climb into the RAC harness, as her legs had to be fed through the substantial loops. The all-black colour made it tricky to work out what went where, too. Once in, she seemed happy enough, and the harness can be used for walks thanks to large D-ring tethers for a lead. In the car, the standard seatbelt can be fed through a loop on the harness to secure the dog. It’s not as easy as the Musonic’s click-in tether, but it is good value.
Kurgo Seatbelt Tether
Price: Around £8Rating: 3 starsContact: www.halfords.com
The Kurgo Seatbelt Tether is simply a strap rather than a full harness like some other products tested here, but it is nicely made and feels substantial enough to hold a much bigger dog than Doris, due to its mountaineering-style carabiner clip. The other end clicks into the car’s standard-fit seatbelt anchor point to provide a really solid tether point. To avoid injuring the dog in an accident it should never be used with just a collar when in a moving car, but could work well if your pet is already wearing a full harness.
Pets At Home Car Safety Harness
Price: £16Rating: 2.5 starsContact: www.petsathome.com
Doris couldn’t get on with this, and neither could we. It is all black with no markings, so we found it difficult to work out what went where and how to adjust the size. Once we’d got it right, we still had to persuade our model to put her leg through. After fitting, a small D-ring allows it to be used outside the car. Inside, the seatbelt feeds through a loop and clips to the harness. It’s fiddly to use, and Doris soon became tangled. Frustrating, and costly, too.