Over the course of 14 months, Ruffwear’s Product Development team designed, built and tested the Load Up Harness. We set out to design this product in response to requests from our customers for a Ruffwear-designed vehicle restraint harness, constructed from quality materials and ergonomically designed for the dog’s comfort over long road trips.
Customers were telling us that they were using our Web Master™ and Doubleback™ Harnesses in their vehicles to restrain their dogs. Knowing that neither of these harnesses was designed specifically for vehicle use, we wanted to combine our harness design knowledge and familiarity with strength-rated hardware to build a specific vehicle restraint harness for dogs.
Currently there are no United States Federal regulations that fully define restraint for our canine companions while they are in a vehicle heading to or from our shared adventures. In some states, like New Jersey and New Mexico, there are laws that require a dog to be ‘restrained’ in the back seat, keeping the dog out of the front seat so the driver is not distracted. Our goal in offering the Load Up Harness is to enable traveling dogs to hit the open road with a comfortable, easy-to-use vehicle restraint harness.
What makes the Load Up Harness different from other vehicle restraint harnesses for dogs?
Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness combines strength-rated hardware and high-quality webbing and materials to offer a strong, secure restraint for dogs traveling in vehicles. We designed the harness with the dog’s comfort and safety in mind and the dog’s ability to move comfortably in the back seat was built into the design.
Has the Load Up Harness been crash tested? Under what parameters?
Yes. In April 2014, as part of our product development process, we tested prototypes of the Load Up Harness at MGA Research Corporation (http://mgaresearch.com/), an independent test facility.
Overall Test Summary
The canine restraint was dynamically tested under the conditions outlined in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 Child Restraint Systems (FMVSS 213). The canine restraint was installed on the canine crash test mannequin per the manufacturer’s (Ruffwear) instructions and then secured to the test bench restraint system. FMVSS 213 employs a standard bench seat that represents the rear seating environment of an automobile. The seat bench and add on restraint was then subjected to the 30 mph generic frontal crash pulse detailed in FMVSS 213.
MGA Research performed three separate dynamic tests of Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness in the following sizes and dog-mannequin weights:
Size Small Harness: 25 pounds
Size Medium Harness: 45 pounds
Size Large Harness: 75 pounds
We conducted these tests in order to learn from the results and ensure that the harness construction and components performed as designed. Based on the test results, we reinforced stitching and altered the webbing adjuster to ensure the webbing would not slip.
Here are videos from all three dynamic sled tests:
Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 25 lb dog
Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 45 lb dog
Dynamic test of Ruffwear’s Load Up™ Harness – 75 lb dog
This testing was a key part of our product development process. It confirmed for us that we had designed a secure canine restraint harness that performed as intended.
What is the design-intent behind the Load Up Harness?
The Load Up Harness has been designed to be comfortable, while providing supportive restraint for a dog traveling in the back seat of a vehicle.
We’ve put the seatbelt attachment point low and at the base of the dog’s back to:
1) make the harness more comfortable for the dog over long road trips
2) keep the dog in an upright position in the event of a crash
In observing sled test videos of restraint harnesses with the seatbelt attachment points high on the dog’s back, the dog tends to flip out off the seat causing their back legs to swing forward. The photos shown below are taken from sled test videos of Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness:
Dynamic test images of Ruffwear Load Up Harnesses:
In all three of Ruffwear’s dynamic sled (crash) tests of the Load Up Harness shown above, the dog mannequin stayed in an upright position and on the seat.
Why isn’t Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness listed as ‘CPS Certified’ on the Center for Pet Safety’s website?
While Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness has been dynamically (crash) tested under the test conditions of FMVSS 213, the Load Up Harness has not been tested against The Center for Pet Safety’s Safety Harness Crash Test Protocol, which was published on July 15, 2014. The certification test did not exist when we tested prototypes of our Load Up Harness in April 2014 as part of Ruffwear’s product development process. Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness is not ‘CPS Certified.’
Based on the results of our dynamic tests, the size Medium and Large/X-Large Load Up Harnesses would not meet CPS’s current certification based on the excursion measurement limits defined in the testing protocol. In order for the Medium and Large/X-Large Load Up Harness to test within CPS’s excursion limits, the seatbelt attachment point would likely need to be affixed higher on the dog’s back. We believe that Ruffwear’s seat belt attachment location produces the optimal approach when considering the safety and comfort of the dog.
What’s the correct way to put the Load Up Harness on my dog?
Refer to our Quick Start Video at or follow these step-by-step instructions:
How do I secure the Load Up Harness to the seat belt?