Having dogs is expensive. And it’s not only the money we spend directly on them. We spend a lot of money modifying our life around them. I won’t save on the essential things for my dogs (like food and good supplements). But I can save on other things that I buy around them. Like a car dog barrier for SUV.
Before I got Dobermans, I had a very lovely sport car that maintained that “new car” smell for years. When my first Doberman puppy arrived – I realized I didn’t think this through: my car was too small for a Dobermann. By the time my puppy was 6 months old the “new car” smell was gone, and my Dobermann puppy was no longer fitting in the coupe, even with the back bench folded. It was time to make a decision and it didn’t favor my lovely sports car. I needed an SUV.
I like to keep my car clean. It can be challenging when you have dogs. SUV has lots of room for dogs at the back of the car in the trunk. This allows to keep the cabin dog-free and clean. One tiny problem – my dog would still manage to drool on the back seats when sticking his head inside the cabin.
My dogs always live freely in the house – without crates. For that reason, buying a crate specifically for the car didn’t make sense to me. Most SUVs will require a custom-made crate to utilize the space. A crate significantly limit dog’s ability to move and limit the use of the SUV for household projects. Not to mention – custom SUV crates are expensive.
So, how do you prevent a dog from sticking his head inside the cabin, while keeping the SUV easily adjustable for other uses? I bought a car dog barrier.
It was a great idea at first. I bought a heavy-duty metal fence. It took me about an hour to assemble it, a few bruises on my arms, and a few scratches on the car upholstery when trying to fit it in. I realized it will be impossible to move it in and out of the car when I need the car for other purposes. I’ve exchanged it to another car dog barrier. And then another one. They were either too heavy and bulky to be easily removed from the car when needed, or too flimsy to hold in place. The cost was around $80-$100 each. Most of them have to be stretched between the ceiling and the floor (or sides) to hold in place, which inevitably leaves marks/holes in the car upholstery.
I’ve decided to design my own car dog barrier for SUV on a budget.
Headrests in the car have solid metal tubes that hold them in place. If I could come up with a light enough design for the frame – these headrest metal tubes could be enough to keep the car dog barrier in place. I decided to use cheap and light PVC tubes for the frame. Next – off to Home Depot to find the rest of the parts needed.
The list of materials used:
- One ½ inch PVC pipe. 10ft. $2.31
- Four Dura 45 degrees PVC elbow (½ inch). Make sure they are slip x slip. $o.73 each ($2.92 total).
- Two 90 degrees PVC elbow (½ inch). Make sure they are slip x slip. 39c each ($o.78 total).
- A set of Orbit Hose washers. $1.48
- Two sets of Everbilt 1/4in x 2-5/8in eyebolt with nut (pack of 2). $2.27 ($4.54 total).
- A bag of cable ties. $2.90.
How to measure your car.
- Start with the ceiling. Measure the flat side of the ceiling (before it starts curving down). Then subtract 1 inch from the measurement (1/2 inch on each side will be added from the length of the 45 degrees elbows).
Cut the pipe to the calculated length. Connect 45 degrees elbows to each side of the pipe. Test if it fits in the car.
- Measure the length of the angle that goes from the ceiling to the window. One side is enough. If this part is a bit longer – the frame will be close to the window. If you make it shorter – you will have a gap between the frame and the window. Enough for a sneaky Doberman to put his snout through.
Cut two pieces from the pipe (one for each side). Attach both pieces to the frame via 45 degrees elbows that are already attached to the ceiling side of the frame. Attach another 45 degrees elbow at the end of the new pieces.
- Measure the width of the back of your rear seat. Then subtract 1 inch from the measurement if you want the frame to be the exact width of the back seat.
Cut the pipe. And attached 90 degrees elbows at each end.
- Bring all the pieces to the car. It’s best if someone can help you hold them in position. Position pieces where they should be. Measure the vertical space between the 90 degrees elbows and 45 degrees elbows. Add 1 inch to the measurement to allow room for the pipe to be inserted inside elbows (about ½ inch on each side).
Cut the pipe and insert the pieces in place. The frame is ready to be installed!
Remove headrests from the rear seat and position the frame in place. Using the marker – indicate on the pipe, where it aligns with the holes for the headrest tubes. It should be 4 marks total. You will have to drill holes in your PVC frame to insert 4 eyebolts. Eyebolts will have to align with the holes in the rear seat. So, if you look at the frame in place – you will be drilling from back to front (parallel to the floor).
How to install car dog barrier.
After bolts are attached to the frame – check every elbow to make sure the pipe fits tightly. The frame has to be sturdy.
Use washers to protect headrest’s upholstery from rubbing against the frame. You will also need to make 4 short pieces of PVC (about 1 in long or so) to help lock the headrest in place. It might take several pieces until you find the right height that locks the headrest. When locked – the headrest should hold the frame very-very tight. Here is the assembly order:
When the frame is done – stretch a net over the frame using cable ties. I used cargo organizer trunk net for an SUV that I had previously bought. This type of net doesn’t abstract rear view visibility. If I had to buy this net specifically for this project – this would be the most expensive item to buy. They range from $15 and up on Amazon.
The approximate cost of this cheap car dog barrier for SUV is about $15 for materials plus the cost of the net. It took me two hours to complete this project including shopping at Home Depot.
The frame is strong enough to keep my dog from sticking his head into the cabin. It is easy to remove when I need to fold down the rear seats or to use the car for other purposes. Keep in mind – my dogs are well mannered and won’t attempt to break through or destroy the barrier. If your pet rules in the car – then you might want to get that bulky heavy-duty fence.