Practicing Pet Safety With A DIY Car Hammock

Make a dog car protector and safety seat using towels and fabric.

Pet safety is a big thing for me, especially in the car. My Bernese Mountain Dog, Cody, travels mostly in the back of our Jeep where he can stand and move around easily, protected in part by a large metal gate that attaches behind the second row of seats in the car and divides him from us human passengers. The gate keeps us safe too, many pet owners don’t often consider how risky it is for everyone when a large dog is thrust forward during an accident.

My Dad’s all over the safety concern aspect, although our style metal dog gate wouldn’t fit into his Toyota Corolla, nor would a big dog crate, and his dog, a Golden Retriever, stubbornly refuses to wear a dog seatbelt. To remedy his problem and make everyone more safe, I offered to make a custom dog seat cover that acts more as backseat hammock for their dog, making it so that he’s less likely to fall into the backseat foot area or lunge into the dashboard should something terrible happen. Plus, it’s supremely comfortable and comfort is important, so consider it just one of many things you can make for your pet within the treats, collars, toys categories. Bonus factor: it’ll help keep the seats clean, I’m sure all you fur-baby lovin’ folks can appreciate that. I see hammocks like this sold in pet stores, and they’re regularly priced between $50-$150, but I knew I could make something effective myself with a limited budget. (Fact: this whole project cost <$30)

How to make a DIY pet hammock for safety and comfort in the car.

Read the whole tutorial to see how I created this DIY dog seat cover for my family.

I started with 3 yards of heavy outdoor fabric that was sale priced at $5.49/yard. I especially like outdoor fabrics for pets, and used it for our DIY dog bed because it’s more likely to repel stains and withstand heavy wear. The print I chose satisfied a few conditions: it needed to be able to disguise mud, Golden Retriever fur, and not be overly feminine since it was going in a man’s car. Men don’t want always respond well to the magenta chevron fabric options, I’ve found.

Alternately, if you have enough t-shirts or sweaters, you could glean inspiration from this tutorial and use sweaters to make your pet-friendly bed.

Using outdoor fabric to create a pet-friendly DIY cushion.

In planning its execution, I decided on folding the 3 yards of fabric in half and sewing it into a sleeping bag-like form leaving on end open.

We have plenty of old bath towels floating around our home, and I decided to use them to line and cushion the entire piece. I layered them in a way to create an almost completely even bed for the hammock. If you don’t have scrap towels around, consider buying a few new towels at the dollar store or Walmart where they are usually priced low. Alternatively, I like using thin memory foam mattresses as dog beds. You can usually source $20 XL twin sized pieces and fold them to create a cushy pad.

Use old towels to create a comfortable dog safety seat in the car.

Initially, it didn’t seem likely that three layers of towels would slide easily through our sewing machine, so I started by loosely hand stitching the layers together with orange embroidery thread. It wasn’t hard, but it took a long while and I wasn’t sure it would be strong enough. Eventually, my curiosity won over and I found myself testing the limits of my little Singer. Excitedly (there may have been fist pumping) the machine ate through the thick layers with ease.

Hand stitch, or use an industrial strength sewing machine to finish the dog safety hammock.

I sewed across the car hammock horizontally in four places; the middle two seams were a little tight because there’s only so much room to bunch the excess fabric, but I made it work and it turned out really great.

Sew your DIY dog hammock for a safety seat in the car.

I designed the unit to have four adjustable points of attachment using parachute buckles (4 at $2/each) and webbing bought by the yard (4 yards total, about $1/yard). By attaching two to each end, the padded piece would hook to the four car headrests making this safety and dog comfort device literally, a hammock.

Parachute buckles make adding DIY straps easy.

I attached the webbing by sewing it in place to each end of the hammock, liberally spacing it as I went so that there was plenty of adjustment room (I didn’t have my Dad’s Corolla around for measurements while I planned this, so I based the spacing off of our Subaru Outback Sport).

The finished piece with all clips in place looked like this, folded in half:

Add straps to the dog hammock so that it can attach to the headrests in the car.

Installed, it was inviting and charming and sure to keep the dog safer and more comfortable. How have you customized your vehicles for your furry friends? If you’re looking for more ways to honor your favorite pet, browse this list of 50 ways to celebrate your dog on National Dog Day.

Make a safe and comfortable place for your dog in the car.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Fazio is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at

124 Responses

  1. merrypad says:

    Thanks for all of the nice comments! So glad you enjoy the finished piece and the tutorial.

    • nancy says:

      One quick question. you sew in the towels before or after folding the fabric in half? Are they supposed to be inside the folded fabric?

  2. Hannah Naomi says:

    Hi dude, I've quite agreement with you and I always try to make safety for my fat too whatever here allocated pet safety with a DIY car hammock is totally appropriate though I appreciate such practice for my pat. Thanks a lot for nice allocation!

  3. Miss Angie says:

    What a great tutorial! I'm going to have to share this with all my animal rescue friends!

    Found your post through Aubrey's Weekly Round-Up Post this week! :) She shared it with us!

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  11. Jacs says:

    I'm going to try this using an old comforter/quilt and just add the webbing straps … less sewing!

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  14. lauren says:

    Great post. I wanted to put a hammock in my backyard because I have the perfect trees for a hammock. So I have been looking up different kinds of hammocks when I came across this post. I am so glad I did because I need something like this for my dog (shes a rottweiler) for when we take road trips. I am going to try to attempt this, thanks so much for sharing.

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  16. Carol AF says:

    I love this, I'm going to make one this weekend. Thanks for the idea, and wish me luck.

  17. Linda says:

    Gota take a closer look at this. My golden is almost 80# and needs something like this. Thanks!

  18. Moodyvega says:

    Old Yeller is definitely sporting that blanket project..

  19. Carol says:

    Gordon did a great job modeling for his new backseat hammock! Great project!

  20. Rachel says:

    Gordy! Lookin great! And great job- love that material!

  21. Marylou says:

    Nice idea….love that material…can you say where you got it?

  22. @meknon28 says:

    Wow! Cool DiY project! I should take back my used towels from the trash!

  23. Linda Clark-Koball says:

    Great idea. Your doggy looks so comfortable.

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About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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