How to Make Dog Car Seat: COMPLETE Guide to Dog Safety!

A dog car seat is an important thing to have when taking your dog on a car ride.

Dogs left unsecured in the car can jump around and get injured, destroy the interior of the car, jump out of the moving car, or even cause an accident.

This how to make dog car seat guide will show you step-by-step how to make your own seat for a secure ride!

What Are Dog Booster Seats For?

dog in a soft pillow
WARNING: Dogs can become puppy projectiles in the event of a wreck or sudden stop. Dog car seats help to keep you, your passengers, and your dog safe in the car.

Most dog car seats and booster seats buckle into the car’s safety system and include a tether to secure to your dog’s harness to keep them in place.

We recommend choosing a professionally-designed dog car seat, booster seat, or a crate designed for travel to keep your dog safe on the road, but you can make your own in a pinch.

We never recommend securing your dog with a collar, because this can cause injury in an accident. Always use a harness that distributes weight and force around the most robust parts of the dog.

The safest and most secure way to travel with your dog is inside a crate that keeps him comfortable, safe, and secure during the trip.

This can also eliminate travel anxiety that results in jumping, barking, and urinating in the car.

Read our related article on How to Get Dog Pee Out of Car Seats. Accidents happen, but they don’t have to ruin your car!

Is it Necessary to Have a Dog Seat in Your Car? 

dogs in car seats
Dog car seats are comfortable and secure and mayeven an anxious dog relax during car rides.

A supportive dog booster seat along with a harness will keep your companion from straying around the car, ensuring your safety as well as that of any passengers.

This is especially true if you live in a busy or high-traffic area.

A loose dog can also slide around and get injured in the back of the car. Securing your dog in a soft car seat is the most humane way to travel.

Is It Illegal To Have a Dog in the Front Seat?

Although there is no specific legislation in place against driving your vehicle with a pet, you may be fined. In some states, your dog must be restrained in some manner, no matter where he is sitting.

A puppy seat in the car is a smart investment to avoid mishaps, a penalty for careless driving, or to keep your cherished companion from jumping out of the vehicle.

How to Make a Simple Dog Car Seat Step-by-Step

Dogs should be properly strapped into a crash-tested restraint
This dog is wearing a safety tether to keep him from jumping around in the car.

You can make a simple dog car seat that will help your dog sit comfortably and securely in the vehicle. This seat is designed to be a simple DIY that nearly anyone can do.

Gather The Materials

For this simple car seat, you’ll need to gather a few things, most of which you may already have on hand.

  • A sturdy box (can be heavy cardboard or plastic)
  • A sharp utility knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil to mark places to cut the box
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • A couple of yards of material or scrap fabric (old sheets and towels work fine)
  • Foam padding or pillow stuffing
  • Carabiner clip or large sturdy D-ring
  • Dog harness with a short lead

Step-by-step Directions to Make a Dog Booster Seat

  1. Ensure the sturdy box fits on the car seat. This is the base for your dog car seat, so ensure it will fit between two of the buckles on the seat.
  2. Measure or mark the box where slits should be cut to fit the seatbelt through the cardboard.
  3. Use the utility knife to cut slits to accommodate the seatbelt.
  4. Test-fit the seatbelt to the box and adjust as necessary.
  5. Cut a hole in the bottom of the box to fit the D-ring or carabiner clip. This clip will hold the dog’s leash, so make it secure. It’s best if it can also go around the seatbelt and not just the box.
  6. Cut pieces of foam to fit the inside of the box. If using pillow stuffing, cut the pillow in half length-wise and use the pillow’s fabric to secure the stuffing to the inside of the box.
  7. Use the glue gun to secure the pieces of foam or padding to the inside of the box.
  8. If your dog is very small, add padding to the bottom until the dog can see comfortably over the top of the box.
  9. Keep padding free of the clip you installed so you can attach the leash to it later. It’s okay if the padding billows around the clip, just make sure you can find it later.
  10. Use the utility knife to cut through the foam to reach the slits you cut to fit the seatbelt.
  11. Use the fabric to cover all parts of the foam and box. If using a sheet or other large piece of fabric, start by pressing the fabric into the bottom of the box and gluing it up the corners and sides as you fit it into the car seat.
  12. End by securing the fabric around the outside of the box with hot glue.
  13. Use the utility knife to cut through the fabric to ensure you can get to the seatbelt slits. Glue the fabric around the cardboard slits if you can, so the fabric is less likely to fray.

Install Your DIY Dog Car Seat

Install the DIY car seat by buckling it into the car seat through the slots you designed.

If you can, clip the carabiner clip to the seatbelt for extra security.

Fit your dog’s harness on comfortably, and attach the lead. If you have a lead designed with a clip on both ends, that’s ideal.

If not, simply pass the lead through the carabiner clip, then loop it through its own handle to secure it to the car before attaching the lead to your dog’s harness.

Place your dog in the car seat and attach the secured lead to his harness. Make sure that the harness does not have so much play that it allows the dog to jump out of the car seat.

Tie a few knots in the lead to shorten it up if needed.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should know how to make dog car seats. If you have made a DIY dog car seat, let us know in the comments below!

We always recommend buying a professionally designed and crash-tested car seat for your dog, but we know that isn’t always practical or affordable.

Regardless, having a perfect dog seat ensures that your dog travels securely while also being high enough to enjoy the scenery out the window.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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