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

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  4. Oh really, it is a amazing Car Hammock!!! looking fantastic. Hope it will be very comfortable for using. I have liked this Car Hammock. I will try to install this Car Hammock in my favorite car for making more enjoyable and comfortable tour and ride.

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  8. amanda f says:

    Thanks for such a great post! I've been inspired to replace my drab store bought gray one with this. My dogs do use harness/seatbelts, but I figure it'll be easy enough to sew small slots in the hammock to allow for the seatbelts to be used.

  9. Pete says:

    I love the dog hammock that I bought online, but it's practically just a tarp with the same kind of buckling system that you used. You've inspired me to want to make my own. One question though, how do you keep the corners from turning down? I know it's better than nothing, but I still end up getting dog hair at the ends of the car seat that are beyond the buckles. I'm just curious if you had the same problem.

  10. AnneKD says:

    Thanks for the post. We don't have a dog (total bummer) but I do have a cat. When we have to travel with him, once or twice a year if we leave the house for more than a couple of days, he gets carsick, and I'd much rather have a washable/waterproof blanket when the messy stuff lands outside the cat carrier. I might pick up a cheap vinyl tablecloth to start with, and use that for the inside.

  11. Amanda says:

    Just saw this and am going to make it this weekend, I'm thinking of adding an old plastic shower curtain to the inside to make it waterproof and protect my seats a little more.

  12. dunn12 says:

    You said you only needed 3 yards of fabric for this project? What are the dimensions of the backseat it was for?

  13. ByDy says:

    Parachute buckles can be found at almost all fabric stores. Joanne's has then as does Hancock fabrics. There is always too.

  14. Jana says:

    Great idea! Where do you find parachute buckles?

    • john says:

      Parachute buckles can be found at almost all fabric stores. Joanne's has then as does Hancock fabrics. There is always too.

  15. winston says:

    where am i gonna put my kids with this? :O

  16. darestobegreat says:

    What type of needle are you using on your Singer? Whatever type came with my machine broke when I tried to hem a pair of jeans! This is such a great idea – I bought a $50 one that lasted all of 2 months. UGH!

    • Fran says:

      You would have to use a JEAN needle or 16 to be able to get thru the thicknesses and jeans and not break. Take out when done and change to a smaller number. To sew on things thinner.

  17. Reniel says:

    To take pets in car gives a luxurious look to people now a day. Everyone like to have a pet at home. But you need to take care about them. You may face problem while going outside for picnic purpose. The best solution for this situation is to go in car by which you can take your pets also with you.
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  18. mikepetersen99 says:

    Really innovative idea to make your doggy feel comfortable. I will use your instruction to create a hammock for my dog.

  19. Rider11 says:

    Pets are really good to have. Basically dog are the more faithful animal and really looks nice when someone walking with his/her dog. Some people prefer to take their pets with them to the place where they usually go. Some are carrying them in their cars. Its really a great thing and probably the love of the master to his/her pet. I like my pet very much.

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  22. Liam Morris says:

    That's not a bad idea at all. It'd turn our backseat into more of a playpen though, since all we have are a couple tiny Pomeranians instead of a big Golden Retriever.

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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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