If I had known how much of a difference a Gunner Kennel would change the car riding experience with Sitka, I would have purchased one the day I got him.
Until I had Sitka, I had never really thought about the need to restrain my dog in the car. My other dogs lay quietly in the back, so I didn’t think twice.
Sitka, however, has severe car anxiety. When I picked him up from his foster, they had drugged him with Prednisone because it was so bad. The following day, we went for a trail run sans drugs. Throughout the entire short drive, he whined and paced constantly in the back seat and lunged and barked at passing cars.
I was certain we would get into an accident on the way to the trailhead.
I tried a seat belt and harness combination, but that didn’t work. He could still stand up and turn around and I’d have to pull over frequently to detangle him.
After some research, I realized that the best option would be a crate for the car.
I landed on a Gunner Kennel because my research quickly demonstrated that they are the safest dog travel crates on the market. Not only is Sitka’s car anxiety nearly non-existent while riding in his kennel, but I can drive assured that he will be safe in the event of an accident.
About Gunner Kennels
The founder of Gunner Kennels, Addison Edmonds wanted to create a heavy-duty kennel for his hunting companion, Gunner. He didn’t feel safe using clamshell plastic crates and was frustrated about having to replace lesser quality kennels each year.
So he set off on a mission to build the world’s best dog crate, because he believed that man’s best friend deserved man’s best kennel.
Gunner Kennels are made in the USA and work with over 20 small businesses throughout the country to create the kennels and accessories. In addition, they come with a lifetime warranty.
What Makes Gunner Kennels the Safest Travel Crate for Dogs?
Gunner didn’t cut any corners in the design of this heavy duty pet travel crate. These kennels go above and beyond, using the highest quality materials to create a travel crate that sets industry standards for safe travel crates for dogs.
In an accident with a car traveling 35 mph, a 60-lb dog can become a 2,700-lb projectile, according to Bark Buckle UP.
100,000 dogs are killed annually falling from pickup trucks and even more sustain injuries, according to Ford and the American Humane Association.
In a 2015 test conducted by the Center for Pet Safety, Gunner Kennels were the only crate to pass safety certifications. This means that Gunner Kennels are the safest crates available for dogs traveling in a vehicle.
5-Star Crash Test Rated
Gunner Kennels undergo rigorous in-house safety testing and received a 5-star crash test rating from the Center for Pet Safety.
A few in-house tests include:
- Applying 4,000 pounds of force from a vice machine. The kennel broke the machine.
- Dropping a 630-lb sled from over 8 feet onto the kennel
- Tossing the kennel over a 200-foot cliff
- Shooting at it with a 12-gauge shotgun
Gunner has the videos to prove their tests here.
Gunner Kennels are made from a durable double-wall rotomolded polyethylene, the only such crates on the market, according to the Gunner website. The company designed them this way because it offers at least twice the impact protection than a single-wall crate.
The double-wall construction means that the exterior layer absorbs the majority of the initial impact, while the interior offers protection.
Safety Latches and Locks
Each kennel comes with the ability to lock the paddle latch on the door with a key, as well as with safety latches for extra security. These kennels are escape-artist proof.
For ultimate safety, Gunner Kennels are equipped with four tie-down stainless steel safety pins that allow you to anchor the kennel to your car to further prevent roll over.
Tie-down straps that meet Gunner’s crash test standards are sold separately, and made with an extra thick cam buckle.
You can read why Gunner believes their tie-down straps are the safest and why they recommend tying down the kennel to your car.
Can withstand Seasonal Elements
Gunner Kennels are designed to withstand inclement weather.
Yet another benefit of the thick walls is that it keeps the kennel cooler than single-wall models.
Gunner conducted a temperature test comparing several kennels left in the sun for hours on a hot day. The results showed that the Gunner displayed the lowest temperature, including a 40° difference between a Gunner lined with a Performance Pad and the kennel with the hottest temperature.
In addition, the non-slip rubber feet raise the crate off the ground. This reduces heat transmission from surfaces and prevents slipping. The ample window vents allow air to circulate well.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you can leave your dog unattended in the car on a hot day, but it does mean that they will be more comfortable.
Gunner also sells a fan kit that mounts to the crate to provide additional ventilation.
I have noticed that on really hot days, when I expect Sitka to be panting in his kennel, he’s totally fine when I open the trunk.
If you keep your dog’s kennel in the bed of a truck, an oversized drain plug creates an efficient drainage system to eliminate any water that entered the crate in rainy weather. You can also purchase a weather kit to keep your dog dry if you are traveling in inclement weather.
Gunner has a page sharing story after story from dozens of customers who were in terrible car accidents where their dogs emerged completely fine.
I personally know of someone who was involved in a car accident with her two dogs. She was T-boned by a car running a red light at 50 mph. Her car flipped twice and she landed facing the opposite direction she was driving. A witness said that her car was completely airborne.
First responders had to use the Jaws of Life to pry the hatch open to get the dogs out. Her dogs emerged from their kennels with just a few scratches. Sammy was also ok, suffering a mild concussion and bruising.
Will a Gunner Kennel Fit in My Car?
Gunner has a nifty fit finder app that takes into account your car, dog’s dimensions, and intended use.
Additionally, Gunner has a customer gallery with photos of real setups. You can filter by make and model and dog size and breed to see if anyone in the gallery has a similar setup.
My Personal Gunner Kennel Set Up
Sitka weighs 42 lbs and I have a G1 Medium kennel for him. I drive a 2012 Subaru Forester and keep the kennel in the rear, with the rear seats folded down, however the kennel fits with the seats up, as well.
I strap the kennel to the car seat lock and the strap latch in the trunk of my car. Since I have it to one side and use the space in my trunk frequently, I loop the straps around the kennel. It’s not the perfect safety set up, but I think it’s better than nothing and it feels very secure to me.
Finding the Right Kennel Size for Your Dog
The fit of the Gunner Kennel will be more snug than what you’re used to with the crate you use at home.
In fact, it may even seem too small, depending on the size of your dog. I thought I had made a mistake by ordering the G1 Medium for Sitka, but Gunner assured me it was the perfect size.
It took Sitka a couple weeks to adapt to the small, dark space, but now, he can’t wait to hop in.
The reason for the snug fit is because it offers more protection to the dog in the event of an accident. The less space they can tumble around, the better.
Gunner also found that dogs feel more secure when traveling in a tighter area, and I can confirm this. My whiny, car-anxious dog is totally quiet in his Gunner Kennel. Sometimes, he’s so quiet, I call his name to make sure he’s still alive back there.
Dimensions and Guidelines
While Gunner can’t guarantee a perfect fit based on dimensions, you can use their fit guidelines to make a best guess and schedule a call to discuss with a team member.
Gunner Kennels sell direct to consumer, which means that unless you know someone who has one, you won’t be able to try it on for size prior to ordering. Gunner does, however, offer consultation calls to help customers find the right fit
In general, here is what Gunner recommends based on size and weight of your dog:
- G1 Small fits most dogs up to 30 lb
- Interior dimensions – 21.75″ (L) x 14.5″ (W) x 15.5″ (H)
- G1 Medium fits most dogs up to 45 lb.
- Interior dimensions – 25″ (L) x 18″ (W) x 19.75″ (H)
- G1 Intermediate fits most dogs up to 75 lb.
- Interior dimensions – 30″ (L) x 18″ (W) x 25″ (H)
- G1 Large fits most dogs up to 110 lb.
- Interior dimensions – 33.25″(L) x 21″(W) x 29″(H)
Exceptional Customer Service
When I was figuring out what size kennel to get for Sitka, I had some trouble determining the best fit. Gunner offers 1:1 15-minute video consultations to help with sizing.
I scheduled an appointment online and spoke with someone a few days later.
After the kennel arrived, I was worried it was too small, so I booked another call. Since it was a video consult, I could take my phone out to my car and have Sitka hop inside, in order to show the team member how he fit. He was able to assure me that the size was perfect.
Being able to have dedicated one-on-one time with a company representative was pretty amazing.
Is a Gunner Kennel Worth the Money?
Gunner Kennels are not exactly cheap. The smallest size starts at $499 and goes up to $799. Plus, there’s the additional cost of any accessories that you buy, and those ain’t cheap either.
They are certainly an investment, and I personally believe they are one worth making.
Here’s why: Peace of mind.
If you are in an accident, and your dog is saved because of the kennel, it is worth every penny and more for the life of your dog.
Moreover, keeping your dog in a kennel can prevent accidents from happening in the first place. I guarantee you that Sitka’s anxiety would eventually have caused an accident if I hadn’t tackled the problem.
The fact is, Gunner Kennels are one of, if not the safest dog crates for car travel on the market and they have proven time and time again that they keep dogs alive.
If you can’t afford the payment in one shot, Gunner does offer financing to make it easier on the wallet.
I had initially purchased a Dakota 283 because the Gunner Kennel was a bit out of my price range for me at the time. While I still think the Dakota 283 is an exceptional dog crate for the car (it’s a good choice if you can’t save up for the Gunner), the ease of finding information, frequent tests, customer testimonies, and accessibility to the Gunner team wins me over.
Can You Fly with a Gunner Kennel?
The short answer is yes, Gunner Kennels meet most airline requirements, and due to its durability, escape-proof door, and superior climate control, they would make an ideal kennel for flying.
The longer answer is that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has strict standards for pets, requiring they can fully stand up, turn around, and lie down in the crate comfortably.
While Sitka can do all of these things in his crate, I’m not certain this setup would meet IATA guidelines since the fit is so snug.
Where to Buy a Gunner Kennel
Gunner is a direct to consumer model, which means that gunner.com is the only authorized retailer of GUNNER products. They chose to use this model in order to ensure the quality of the kennels sold.
If you live in Canada, you can purchase one from an Ontario company called K9Dynamics to significantly reduce the cost of shipping ($435 vs $93.80 CDN).
Gunner has put A LOT of thought into the design and safety of these kennels. I truly believe that they will keep my dog alive, even in an extreme car accident.
I love that I can easily find all of the information I want and need on their website, ranging from safety tests, fit and size questions, and customer testimonials. It’s all there.
Gunner has put these kennels to the test with the strongest possible force they can find. That, plus the numerous stories from customers who have been in accidents proves that these kennels are practically indestructible.