Our Top Picks for Keeping Your Pup Comfy + Secure on Car Trips
Whether you're road-tripping with your furry BFF to (finally!) go on vacation or just to run errands around town, ensure your canine copilot is both comfortable and safe with our pooch-approved product picks.
As a helicopter dog mom, I take my three poodle-mix girls with me everywhere: vacation, trips home to visit family and, sometimes, even just around town to run errands. And, now thanks to their cozy, new car seats, they're loving all this travel time — no more sliding around as I take a turn a bit too aggressively. Plus, because my poodle girls are, shall we say, vertically challenged, the booster-style seats that are our top picks, below, help them see out so they don't miss the opportunity to bark at/say hello to dogs in other cars as we whiz past.
Our Top Pick
Solidly molded from dense, sturdy foam, this bucket-style booster is the seat that all three of my girls head to first. The quilted interior fabric lining is soft enough that I don't need to add extra blankets while the exterior fabric cover resists stains and is easy to wipe clean.
Pros: Honestly, so many! This is the only seat I tested that arrived fully assembled, I just needed to clip off the tags and buckle it into the seat and, on that point, it's also the easiest to take in and out of the car.
Cons: Only one and I have this same complaint about all the seats I tested: the included tether is attached to the bottom half of the seat itself, causing my girls to wrap it around their legs when circling to get comfortable. Instead, I recommend using an over-the-headrest-style tether (see below).
A Close Runner-Up
Also sturdy, this seat features a molded plastic framework that, to be honest, took me a fair amount of time to assemble but, once assembled, feels really solid.
Pros: The quilted exterior with contrasting interior lining looks really high-end, and my pups enjoy riding in this seat that puts them at just the right height for watching the world go past.
Cons: The included cushion is thin and barely covers the solid (read: hard) plastic seat beneath. You'll definitely want to add extra blankets for comfort.
Our Favorite Non-Booster
My senior Schnoodle, Sophie, has always been an anxious rider, but this backseat-spanning bed seems to have fixed that — no more endless pacing to find a comfortable spot. She just snuggles up in a corner and rests her chin on one of the bed's raised edges.
Pros: It's soft to the touch, lightweight and easy to load in or out of the car.
Cons: The bed secures in two locations: over the headrests and via a plastic tube (anchor) that you slide between the seat's back and bottom sections which should prevent the bed from sliding around. This anchor refuses to stay put in my car (a Honda CR-V), so I'm constantly having to tuck it back in.
To ensure your pup's new seat is not only comfortable but also safe, they should be securely tethered via a well-fitting harness — never attach a tether to your pup's collar, as this could easily cause them to be choked if you stop short. We tried out a few different harnesses, and these are my girls' favorites. Both are well padded but snug and feature the step-in design that makes getting them in and out of their harness a snap. Note: Be sure to check your pup's measurements against the manufacturer's recommended sizing chart before ordering.
And, You'll Need ...
As I mentioned, all of the booster-style car seats I tested included a built-in tether. Because it attaches under your pup (essentially, between their feet), it can and likely will end up wrapped around their legs when they shift position. I found these tethers which attach from above, rather than from below, to be much better and didn't require me pulling over to untangle a whimpering pup.