How to make a pet barrier for a car? Easy step-by-step DIY

When you travel by your dog in the car, keeping them secure in the trunk area or back seat helps you concentrate on driving. If you own a minivan, station wagon, SUV, or crossover vehicle, you can build a barrier on your own to place it between the trunk space and rearmost seating area where you keep your furry friend. With very little materials from hardware and department stores, and a little assembly and sawing, you’ll soon have a reliable barrier to help keep your dog out of your way when you are driving.

1. Finding the Right Materials for Pet Barrier

Measure the interior of your vehicle:

The size of your pet barrier will depend on the wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling lengths of your vehicle’s trunk area. If your car has convertible back seats, you got the choice of placing the pet barrier just behind the front seats. Measure the area just behind the front seats up to your vehicle’s ceiling and measure the trunk area’s ceiling-to-floor height behind the back seats. In the end, measure the side windows in the trunk area. It is the longest measurement of all, and then write down these lengths. 

If you have a luxury sedan or any other vehicle without open trunk space behind the back seats and you don’t mind keeping your dog in the back seat, you may put the barrier just behind the front seats.

Buy rods which provide spring-tension:

These spring-tension rods are used either to support shower curtains or to hang draperies in windows. Their spring action allows them to be adjusted without screws or adhesives between two surfaces. Then you need rods that can compress to just a slightly shorter than the ceiling-to-floor length of the vehicle’s trunk that you measured earlier. Bring this measurement to the hardware or department store, and ask any worker there to help you find the proper size.

  • For example, if the ceiling-to-floor length is 3 feet, 8 inches (1.1176 meters), buy rods that compress to at least 3 feet, 7 1/2 inches (1.143 meters).
  • You can find these rods at large hardware stores or department stores.
  • Select rods that have additional tapered stoppers (made of rubber) on their ends. These will help to keep the barrier in place firmly against the ceiling and floor surfaces.

Select crossbar material:

For the horizontal bars, look for 3/4 or 1 inch (at least 1.9-2.54 centimeters) wooden rods or PVC pipe at the hardware/departmental store. Both of them be strong enough to keep the dog from getting through. PVC bars are lighter but also easier for your canine companion to chew through.

Calculate the total length of the crossbar:

These must be at least as wide as the wall-to-wall measurements of your vehicle’s trunk area. Calculate the total rod length and purchase according to your dog’s size or purchase some more in case of any tragedy if you break the rod while making it.

If your dog weighs more than 28 pounds (12.7006 kilograms), multiply your wall-to-wall length by four for four crossbars. If the dog weighs less than 28 pounds, multiply by 5 for 5 bars. Finally, multiply this figure by 0.8 or 4/5, and write down the result.

For example: If your longest measurement, i.e., wall-to-wall measurement, is four feet (1.22 meters) for a 44-pound (19.9581 kilograms)dog, then multiplying it by four times gives 16 feet (4.9 meters). Then multiplying this figure by 0.8 or 4/5 gives 12 feet 8 inches (3.90144 meters).

Buy less material for some SUVs:

In some minivans and SACs /SUVs without convertible rear seats, you can’t find any gap to barricade between the rearmost seats. Or some dog owners with SUVs prefer not to convert the rear seats. In both cases, get enough material to fill the gap between the top of the rearmost seats and the vehicle ceiling. Three bars should be sufficient. Multiply the longest length in the gap (wall-to-wall) present above the rear seats by 3, then multiply the result by 0.8.

2. How to install a pet barrier in a car easily

Measure the crossbars:

Crossbars’ length will vary according to the vehicle’s gap they will cover. If you’re using four bars, then the underneath two rods must be long enough to cover the gap between both fronts seats and just above the center console. 

  • Measure these rods at 2/5 of your wall-to-wall measurements, or long enough to cover this gap. Measure the top two bars at 4/5 of the wall-to-wall length or long enough to span the gaps between the side windows, headrests, and the front seat.
  • If you are using five bars, measure the bottom two bars at 2/5, the wall-to-wall length, the middle bar at 3/5, and the top two bars at 4/5. Always make sure these lengths must cover the gaps. If not, change the length and fill the gaps.
  • If you’re only using three bars for a barrier behind the rear seats without a gap between the rear seats and trunk, measure the top bar at 7/10 (which is the longest length), the middle bar at 4/5 the bottom bar 9/10. Ensure these lengths, whether they cover the gaps or not.

Cut the crossbars:

Using a hand saw, or table saw, cut the four or five crossbars to their corresponding lengths. Use a medium to high-grade sandpaper to sand off the sharp, ragged edges of the wooden rods or PVC pipes.

Vertical Rod’s Position:

Put the two rods vertically with spring-tension, just behind both front seats, or put the rods behind the rear seats. Their space from each wall should usually be about 1/5 of the wall-to-wall measurement. Make sure they are perfectly straight/vertical, not bending to one side or the other.

Mark all the attachment points:

  • Position your 4 or 5 crossbars horizontally and equally spaced from one another. Place them one after the other. 
  • The two smaller bars are three inches (7.6112 cm) higher than the center console. The bar present at the top must be four inches (10.159 cm) below the ceiling.
  • A very thin fine line marker indicates the attachment points by putting a cross(x)-mark on the wooden or horizontal PVC rods. They intersect with the vertical rods, keeping the horizontal rods in place, horizontal marks on the vertical rods above and below where they cross with the horizontal bars.

Assemble the pet barrier:

Using 22-gauge utility wire, bind the vertical bars to the crossbars at their marked intersection points. Run the wire in a cross(X)-shaped pattern diagonally around the intersection, changing your winding orientation after every two passes. Wrap the wire firmly until the two bars are strongly secured. Check that the bars remain vertical to each other throughout the whole winding.

If you’d prefer to hide the wire, wrap it with an electrical tape of your desired color. People usually use that color, which matches the bars’ color.

Put the barrier in the vehicle:

Ensure the bar’s attachment at the intersection points. Check again to reduce errors. Position the barrier directly behind the back or front seats, dividing the trunk and rearmost seating area. Use the vertical rods’ spring-tension feature, compress them enough to allow the barrier to be slid into place and secured.

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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