New car: hole in the back into which to pour dogs

Okay, I just bought a "new" (2014) Toyota Venza, a crossover vehicle billed as a "wagon" -- it's about the length of my old Sienna minivan but not as high off the ground. Its back seats fold down flat, providing plenty of room to haul furniture and dogs.

But here's the thing: when you fold the seats down, you don't get an interrupted floor. There's a gap between the top of the folded-down back bench seat and the backs of the front seats.

Right now, I have only one dog crate -- gave the other to a friend, because she needed one and I didn't have enough room in the garage to store two of them.

We live near a canal with a nice, well maintained walking trail that goes for miles and miles. It's a perfect place to walk the corgis. Because it's not quite within walking distance, I drive them over there and we walk from wherever I park the car. Because it's not far and because two dogs won't fit in one crate, I have just put them in the back of the van to get over there. Yeah, I know: b-a-a-a-d human! But it's that or don't bother: as I age, my hassle-factor tolerance fades.

Does anybody have a thought about either what could be done to block that opening so a dog can't fall in there and break a leg or how else I might secure the dogs other than hauling heavy crates into the back?

Leaving the seats upright may not be an option, at least in the summer: the "cargo" area behind the seats is not directly open to the back-seat air-conditioning vents. I could do that in the winter, but it would be out of the question in the summer, when temps reach 118 in the shade. It probably cools off back there eventually with the AC going full-blast, but I think it would not cool very quickly or very efficiently.  The same would apply to the dogs inside a crate: my crate is solid plastic with only the front gate and a few cut-outs to act as vents. I'm afraid that unless the crate was positioned so the front gate faces the back-seat AC vent, it will get VERY hot inside the thing.

There are some tie-downs back there, and I'm thinking I may be able to secure each dog with one of those doggy seat-belt harnesses and a short leash, so in the event of a collision they wouldn't fly around back there, and so they couldn't easily reach the hole behind the front seats.

Has anybody tried to deal with this issue?

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I'm not visualizing the hole you describe, but I have seen many vehicles where there is a gap when the seat is put down. Can you stuff a sheet, or blanket, or towel  in the space?  I use a harness and a short leash to restrain a loose dog, either with a seat belt attachment, or with a caribiner, if I need to tie into a latch point.

It's surprisingly large: a gap left where the head rests keep the seats from lying flush against the backs of the front seat  & console. I'm afraid they would slip down in there if came too close or if they were pushed forward in a fast stop. Probably the best solution IS a crate, which comes under the heading of common sense. I don't suffer from that affliction much, unfortunately... :-o

Exploring the new vehicle yesterday, I found sturdy metal tie-downs in the back that become accessible when you fold the seats down. I think if they were harnessed and short leads where clipped to those, they would be OK. It would have to be a VERY short lead, though...don't know if such things are even made.

The other thought I had was to get an inexpensive area rug from someplace like Ikea, one about the width of the vehicle -- roll it up and lay it over the gap. It would have to be tied down, probably, to keep it from shifting around. Sounds like a hassle...and has the disadvantage that the dogs still aren't really secured and could go rocketing through the windshield in a serious crash.

This car, though, has airbags on practically every interior surface. I wonder to what extend those things would protect a dog? Or harm the dog...couldn't be very good for the critters.

You can buy inexpensive 6' cotton or nylon training leashes and cut them down to the size you need. 

We have the same "hole" in our 2006 Subaru Tribeca.  So far none of our dogs have ever fallen into it.

As for a short lead, they have them for large/tall breeds to keep them right at their handler's side.  I've seen them in PetSmart.  I would also check out Amazon.

Here's a link to one that have at Amazon.  It's an 8ft lead but it has 2 handles, one at the 8ft and the other close to the collar.

you might try rolling up and old blanket and stuffing it in the crack.

All my boys have a harness and an attachment to the seatbelt.  Don't get the cheap ones that hook between the harness and the seatbelt receptacle because they don't stay fastened into the receptacle.  Redford has one that hooks into the seatbelt receptacle because his favorite position is back legs on the seat, front paws on the center console so he can see where he's going.  Tucker has one that has a carbiner that loops around the shoulder belt (the seatbelt gets fastened).  Butler rides in the way back of the Jeep so Tucker doesn't attack him and he's got one similar to Tucker, but his has an extender of a medium chain that hooks into a tie-down on the floor.

The harness are heavy-duty and are supposed to be for use in the car.  I worry that a leash would lead to strangulation in a bad accident or that they aren't sufficiently heavy duty (If i recall my college physics correctly, think 1 25 lb corgi x 25 mph equals 625 pounds of force in a sudden stop).  I wouldn't want that flying around the car in an accident.

I don't fold the seats down, Tucker just lies on the seat.  Redford "assumes the position".  He has slid off on turns, but makes his way back up again.  Everyone has room to move just enough to keep them happy but not so they try to climb into the front seat or out a window.

Jack rides in a car harness.   The seatbelt goes through a loop in the harness.  It's fat and sturdy, made of seat-belt material itself.  Not like a normal dog harness.  It has padded front.

I'm not 100% confident it would work in a bad accident, but the seatbelt DOES lock if we stop fast.   Fair warning, though:  he has gotten out of it once or twice by accident (probably when the seat belt locks up and he is trying to move around-- he's not one to try to get out of any restraint).


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