This title gave me the chills. Nobody wants their best friend getting hurt in an accident; let’s dive into the safety of hunting kennels: when to use them (if you should use them), and some critical features you should look for in a hunting dog kennel if you intend on using one for Spike on your next trip.

Hunting sometimes requires going off-road on wet, rocky, steep, or slippery terrain, and we want to make sure your dogs are as safe as they can possibly be so they can go anywhere with you. Consider the terrain you’re typically driving as you read through along, there may be different circumstances dependent on where you are, the climate, and the driving conditions.

To Kennel Or Not To Kennel; That Is The Question

We are learning that there is a debate here; but the data says otherwise. An observational study by Volvo says the number of drivers' unsafe behaviors more than doubled when a dog remained unrestrained. The study is called, “Volvo Reports: Keeping Pets Safe on the Road” and we will link it below for your reference. Not only did unsafe behaviors double, the amount of distracted time was far greater for drivers with unrestrained pets in the car.

We love animals, and we love when animals can run free; the car just doesn’t seem to be a great place for that, and we hope you agree. Giving your pup the freedom to move around the car/truck is truly not worth the stress of potentially harming yourself or others on the road or trail. Obviously, not all hunting kennels are made equal, and we hope to provide some insight into what to look for when purchasing a kennel for your dog on your next trip!

Features To Look For When Kenneling Your Dog

This word feature is usually loaded with buzzwords, but there are a few things to absolutely look for when/if purchasing a hunting kennel for your pup. Luckily for us, there are plenty of experts already on the case! The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) does their own independent crash tests on crates, kennels, safety harnesses, travel carriers, and more — below is what they primarily look out for:

Is It A ‘Carrier’ Or A ‘Crate’

CPS does a lot of work to understand the safety features of dog travel products; a VERY important distinction to pay attention to is whether a product is considered a carrier or a crate. Carriers (definition by CPS) are tested differently than crates, and the tests require that the product be secured in the “back seat” (ie: test bench) (per the manufacturer’s instructions) and the test condition is approximately 30 MPH. Carriers can be hard or soft-sided, and are designed specifically for use on the rear seat of a vehicle.

Crates, on the other hand, are more strictly tested, and are designed to be locked down in the cargo area of a vehicle, using connections to the cargo anchors of the vehicle. Two primary results to certify a crate include that the anchor straps and crate connections must retain integrity (this indicates a reduced chance of injury to other vehicle occupants by preventing movement of the crate during a crash), & the crate must provide full containment of the test dog, before, during and after the crash simulation with no breach of the crate structure or door (this illustrates the best possible chance of survival for the put during and after a crash).

Other Important Testing Factors

Retainment of the dog in question within the crate seems to be a critical part of the safety of a kennel or ‘crate.’ Many crates are structurally secure, but have a lousy hinge/door system to keep the door shur during a crash. We suggest keeping an eye on the structural integrity of the hinge of any crate you purchase and making sure that it is closed and secure before taking off on your hunt.

Wire crates are NOT CPS certified

During the initial CPS test on a wire crate, the crate completely collapsed on itself and has a high chance of puncturing or wounding the dog in the crash. We truly recommend against wire crates and looking for the CPS logo.

Improve Your Dog’s Travel Setup

You might be saying, “Well I already have a kennel, but I want to be extra careful.” You might not be saying that, but either way, I’m gonna give you a few extra tips to keep your loved ones safe while traveling.

It’s important to keep in mind that CPS is not the end-all-be-all agency for deciding which kennels work and which don’t, but they do offer more data-driven research and real trials than any other brand/agency out there. Something of note: CPS does not test crates/kennels that are over $1,000 in price. We aren’t saying the more expensive, the safer, but they do seem to take into account that most people want to keep their dogs safe without spending an inabsorbinant amount of money. Therefore, they only test products that are likely to be bought by the regular consumer.

Consider the amount of fuss your dog will put up when crated. There are some crates/carriers with soft sides that might be more comfortable, but I have seen dogs chew through them in a matter of days; so something more substantial might be worth the investment. So, next time you’re taking Fido out for a hunt or a trip, throw in their favorite toy, a fresh blanket to help them sleep, and enjoy the ride!

A Few Last Dog Kennel Facts

1. 100,000 DOGS are killed each year falling from pickup trucks, and more are injured, according to a study by Ford & AHA

2. 85% of products FAILED the safety certification when originally crash tested (2015 study) by CPS

3. Pay attention to CPS, as they are constantly growing their certified product list(s) and even revoking certification in some cases