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Best dog guard 2023: Transport your pooch safely

Keep your dogs safe and secure on car journeys with the best dog guards and barriers on the market

The best dog guards guarantee safe car journeys for both humans and their canine companions. They do an essential (and legally required) job of keeping your dogs in a safer place at the back of the vehicle, and this prevents them from being flung forward and easily injured during sudden braking – or worse, a collision. It also means they can’t jump onto your lap while you’re doing 70mph on the motorway.

If your dogs travel with you in the car, recent UK law requires that all pets must now be secured with either a seatbelt harness, placed in a cage or portable carrier, or behind a robust guard that’s firmly located between the rear seats and the boot area. A fine of up to £2,500 may be issued for breaking the law.

Naturally, not all cars suit a dog guard, so this guide is aimed mostly at owners of SUVs, estates, MPVs and any vehicle with a big enough boot area to safely carry a pet. You may be able to attach some guards to the front headrests, too, but this isn’t always ideal given that front seats need to move freely to accommodate different drivers and passengers. What’s more, unrestrained dogs on a backseat can easily slide into the footwell and possibly injure themselves under even moderate emergency braking, so keeping them in the boot is generally the preferable option.

In this article, we’ve researched and sourced a variety of highly praised rear dog guards that we think are the most effective, adjustable and convenient. Read on for the lowdown.

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Best dog guard: At a glance

How to choose the best dog guard for your car

Do I have to have a dog guard?

Not necessarily. There are alternative options available if your car isn’t suitable for a dog guard, but you do need to have your pooch restrained at all times. The Highway Code’s rule 57 states: “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

Which best type of dog guard is best for you?

There are a huge number of different dog guards on the market right now. For most people, a universal one-size-fits-all rear headrest-mounted guard will suffice. These are far and away the most popular because they’re inexpensive and easy to install. With some models you simply clamp the guard to one of the struts on both rear headrests and, if necessary, extend the two sliding partition guards outwards to fit the width of your car. Job done.

Other dog guard designs are more robust and come equipped with extra support legs that you either extend towards the ceiling or both the ceiling and the floor. However, headrest-mounted models will need to be removed every time you want to fold the back seats down to transport larger items – it’s a bit of a faff that you may soon tire of.

Some of the more robust and rattle-free models, such as those from Travall, are car model-specific – these are ideal if you’re likely to permanently leave the guard in place. Car-specific dog guards can be removed if, for instance, you need to load the car with large boxes or refuse for the local council tip, but there’s a usually bit more work involved, such as a few extra bolts to undo. On the plus side, you can at least fold the back seats down when required because the guard isn’t fixed to the headrests like most models.

Usually, the less you spend, the lower the quality of the materials, so if you have a strong, large breed such as a rottweiler or German shepherd, consider spending a bit more for peace of mind.

What are the alternatives to a dog guard?

One of the most popular restraining methods among hatchback and saloon car owners is the seatbelt restraint. These work very well but they can also hinder your dog’s movements and not allow them to get into a comfortable sleeping position so easily. Seatbelt restraints are perfectly fine for short trips, but you should shop carefully when looking for a model that’s suitable for longer journeys.

One simple solution for longer trips, at least for larger breeds, is an elasticated and adjustable leash-based restraint that fits around the rear headrest struts and attaches to the dog’s harness. This system allows the dog to sit and lie down on the back seat without too much hindrance while protecting the animal under heavy breaking or accidents. However, it must be used with a harness, not just a collar.

Dog cages are also a popular choice for estate car drivers or any vehicle with a large boot area. Dog cages can be easily removed when not in use and are a great alternative to a dog guard. However, they will take up more room in the boot area and are prone to rattling when in motion. You’ll also need to fold up the cage for storage when not in use and that can be an irritating faff, especially if doing it on a regular basis.

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The best dog guards you can buy in 2023

1. Summit Easy Access Dog Guard: Best dog guard for easy access

Price when reviewed: £34 | Check price at AmazonOne problem with dog guards is that a backseat passenger can’t access the boot area to give them a drink, snack or a stroke when in transit. This model remedies the issue with a lockable sliding hatch that provides access to the dog without having to stop, get out and open the boot. It also allows the driver to load long items in the car without having to remove the guard. In truth, the hatch design is so effective that we’re surprised more manufacturers don’t provide it.

The Summit is wonderfully easy to install. It comes with an ingenious fitting system comprising a universal bracket with numbered position markers, a clip-in grid system and two adjustable stabilisation rods that secure it against the ceiling of the car. Needless to say, it should fit your car with zero issues – just follow the clear instructions or Summit’s instructional online video.

For the price, this is one of the best universal dog guards we’ve seen. The fittings seem very robust, the mesh itself is of a better quality than many of its competitors, and it’s not too tricky to fit. The clincher, however, is that sliding hatch, which you – or rather the backseat passenger – will come to love, especially if your dog isn’t a great traveller and needs regular reassurance with a good rub around the ears, a snack or a drink of water.

2. Travall Guard: Best car-specific dog guard

Price when reviewed: Criteon dependent | Check price at Travall If you want a dog guard you can install yourself that fits like a glove because it was designed specifically for your vehicle, then the Travall system is the one for you. Yes, it might take 15 minutes to install it, but you’ll come to appreciate it: it feels as solid as if it were factory-fitted to your car. You’ll also appreciate the complete lack of any rattling as you drive over bumpy roads.

Moulded to your specific car make, model and year of production, the guard itself is made from heavy-duty steel tubing with a scuff-free coating so you can be sure your dog – no matter its size and weight – is safe and secure.

Given all the extra struts it comes with, the Travall is very easy to fit. Depending on your vehicle model, in most instances you simply affix the rear window sill mounts – which come with plastic stoppers on the ends so they don’t leave any marks – and attach the supplied tension rods to your car’s tie-down rings. That’s pretty much it; no tools are required and absolutely no drilling.

This is a rock-solid, good-looking system that’s well worth the extra outlay, and the double bonus is that you can still lower the rear seats for loading large items because the guard isn’t attached to the headrests. The only thing it doesn’t do is keep your dogs away from your luggage or other items in your boot, so it may be worth spending the extra on one of Travall’s custom-made dividers.

If ordering from Amazon, type in your car’s make, model and year and you may be in luck. However, for full peace of mind, we would advise ordering direct from the Travall website which uses much more in-depth search criteria.

Check price at Travall

3. Sakura Headrest Dog Guard: Best cheap dog guard

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at AmazonIf you just want a simple, inexpensive self-fitting dog guard that does a good job at keeping dogs from leaping over the back seat while better protecting them in the event of an accident, this keenly priced mesh-style offering from Sakura has garnered a wealth of positive online user reviews.

The Sakura will fit the majority of SUVs, estates and MPVs, and even some hatchbacks with large boots. It’s easy enough to fit without the need for any tools: simply attach it to one of the back seat’s two headrest struts – usually the inner ones – and slide the wings outwards to fit the width of your car. It includes three different fittings, so chances are it should fit your vehicle without any issues. The Sakura measures 30cm in height and is adjustable from 106cm to 145cm in width, making it a good choice for most cars.

4. Halfords Mesh Headrest Dog Guard: An easy-to-remove option at a sensible price

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at HalfordsThis is another excellent universal dog guard that clips to the rear headrests. You can fit this guard yourself or get a Halfords fitter to install it for just £7. Fitting it is relatively easy, mind, and involves a stronger-than-average headrest clip system and two side panels that can be adjusted to the width of the car.

Although we noticed no rattles with this model, the mesh is a bit spindly and the jury’s out on the pale grey colour, which makes it stand out for all the wrong reasons. It’s a bit ugly, in other words. Nevertheless, this is one of the easiest dog guards to remove if you need full load access and is just as simple to refit when required.

Check price at Halfords

5. AllRight Car Dog Guard: Best for easy installation & removal

Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at AmazonIf you don’t want a mesh-type dog guard, perhaps consider fitting a universal tubular system such as this one from AllRight. This particular guard is easy to fit and remove because it doesn’t attach to the headrests. It simply sits behind the rear seats and uses four telescopic rods that brace against the floor and ceiling of the car.

Given that there are no extra attachments involved, this model may not be suitable for larger breeds because the guard can slip out of position if not braced and tightened correctly. It may also leave indentations in the ceiling’s upholstery if you tighten it too much when fitting.

Nevertheless, for smaller breeds it’s a very good option, and is also quick to fit and remove. The open design has the benefit of allowing a rear passenger to slip an arm through the gaps to stroke the dog or reassure it with a snack or two.

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