Rating Guide

X No paws: Not Recommended or product has serious flaws

One paw: Not recommended for most pet owners

Two Paws: Ok product, some reservations

Three Paws: Very good product

Four Paws: Love it, great product

Champion Canine Seatbelt System

Rating: 4 Paws!

In my ongoing search for a good, comfortable seatbelt harness for my dogs that was also strong, I finally came across the Champion Seatbelt System. Before that I had tried a Four Paws seatbelt harness, Petsmart harness, VestHarness, and Ruff Rider Roadie seatbelt. The Champion is the strongest-looking seatbelt out of all of the seatbelts I've tried, and it also is the easiest to take on and off, and has a padded chest strap for comfort. I attach the leash strap to the shoulder part of my car's seatbelt, so it is higher up and the dog does not get tangled very often.

The harness attaches like a normal harness, and the strap part attaches to the harness using a bull snap (used to restrain large livestock) and to the seatbelt or cargo hook using a chainlink "quick link" which takes a few seconds to get on and off but is very secure when it is attached. The harness itself is made of 1 1/2" wide webbing (on the Large size) which is wider than the other seatbelts I've tried. It appears to be very strong. Unlike many dog seatbelts, this one does not rely on plastic buckles to secure the dog in the car. It does use very wide plastic buckles to attach the harness to the dog, however there are two large metal D-rings on the harness, one on each side of the buckle, which you hook the leash strap to so that even if the buckle were to break the harness would still be secured on the dog. According to the company, the Medium and larger harnesses can hold over 2000 pounds. The company also offers a special seatbelt system for dogs over 80 pounds, called the Survivor Big Dog Seatbelt System. The Champion Seatbelt is one of the few dog seatbelts on the market which has actually been safety tested to forces which it would be exposed to during an accident.

For information on how to use a Champion Seatbelt, please see "How to Use the CARE Champion Seatbelt System"

Note: Several people have reported problems with not recieving the product (after they were charged for it) when they ordered the Champion Seatbelt direct from the manufacturer.
For this reason, if you want a safety-tested dog seatbelt, I would recommend either the Ruff Rider Roadie seatbelt or the PetBuckle seatbelt harness. These are the only two dog seatbelts I know of which have actually been crash-tested.

Outward Hound Quick-Release Dog Pack

Rating: 3 paws

The Outward Hound Quick-Release Dog Pack is a dog backpack made by Kyjen. The backpack or saddlebag is removable from the underlying harness.
This is a basic dog backpack. The compartments are large, and there are plastic rings where items can be tied down above the zippered compartments. The large size does make them a little bulky. This backpack features padding underneath all buckles for comfort, although unfortunately the padding is in small pieces which can sometimes be pushed or twisted from movement so that they are no longer padding the buckles. The backpack section is removable and attached with velcro so that you can take it off your dog during rests to give the dog a break from the load. The harness/base is also padded. However, this part unfortunately does not feature any place where a leash could be attached, so it can not be used alone or as a regular harness. The Outward Hound pack all in all is a very basic and "entry-level" dog backpack. It may be fine for short hikes or walking your dog but the lack of ruggedness or special features makes it not the best choice for long hikes or active dogs who may cause a lot of wear and tear.

Flexi Leash Review 1

Rating: 2 paws

The Flexi-Leash is made by Flexi USA. Flexi is the most well-known brand of retractable leash on the market and if you haven't used one you have probably at least seen them in use. The Flexi model reviewed here is the Flexi 3-8, 26 ft. leash.

These leashes can be hard to get used to. They are not for everyone/everydog. The first time I took my dog out using the large flexi-lead, the dog had more control than I did. One of the problems with these leashes is that your dog feels like he or she is off-leash and may start running around like a maniac (don't all dogs do that off-leash?)

If they get to the end of the leash, and you're not ready for that, the leash may leap out of your hand, and the dog really will be off-leash. Although it says it won't tangle, your dog can probably find a way to tangle you up with it, and it can be a tripping hazard for people.

This leash is not really good for training or walking most dogs. However, it can be good if you're taking your dogs somewhere like the beach and want to give them more freedom without letting them off leash completely.
Use with caution.

(Reviewed by dog owner Kerri K.)

The Flexi can be purchased from most chain pet stores or online at Amazon.com

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About the Critique

Chicago Canine Critique is a product review site which is part of The Chicago Canine, a website for dog owners with news, reviews, guides to taking your dog places, feature articles, Chicago dog-friendly event and business listings, and more.
If you have a product you would like us to review, please email chicagocanine@aol.com

Meet the Reviewers

Below you can see photos and stats on some of the canines who have tested the products reviewed at the Canine Critique.

Breed: German Shepherd
Size: "Large" 26" tall and 70 lbs.
Occupation: Pack Dog
Birthdate: 4/14/04

Breed: Labrador Retriever
Size: "Large" 100+ lbs.
Occupation: Family Dog

Breed: Golden Retriever
Size: "Medium" 24" tall and 65 lbs.
Occupation: Therapy Dog
Birthdate: 1/9/96

Breed: Rat Terrier mix
Size: "Small" 14" tall and 25 lbs.
Occupation: Trick Dog
Birthdate: 8/8/94

Run by Chicago Canine