7 Best Car Barriers For A Safe (And Clean) Trip With Your Pup

Protect your dog AND your seats.

dog car barrier
Amazon / Orvis

At one point or another, you’ll need to travel with your pup in the car.

And whether you take road trips with your pup all the time or you’re just taking him to the dog park, you’ll want to make the experience as safe (and relatively clean) as possible.

To protect your car and keep your pup safe, dog car barriers can definitely do the job.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Sabrina Kong, a veterinarian at We Love Doodles, and Dr. Karen J. Riley, a veterinarian and founder of Ihavedogs, to find out the benefits of car barriers and how to find the best dog car barrier for you and your pup.

What’s a dog car barrier?


A dog car barrier is a blockade you put between your dog and the front seat to prevent your pup from distracting the driver.

Benefits of a dog car barrier


Dog car barriers not only keep you safe, but they can keep your pup relaxed in the car and keep your interiors clean. “Having a dog barrier comes with a wide range of benefits, and some of them outweigh the others,” Dr. Kong told The Dodo.

Prevents distracted driving


Dog car barriers are a great safety measure when traveling with dogs since they can keep your dog from stealing your attention away from the road.

“Having a dog barrier will reduce distraction while driving and ensure the safety of both you and your dog,” Dr. Riley told The Dodo.

This is especially important if your dog gets super excited in the car or just reallyyy wants to sit on your lap.

“Dog barriers can be handy when it comes to transporting a dog who’s active in the car,” Dr. Kong said. “It decreases the chance of a car accident.”

Having a dog car barrier can also protect your dog in case of an accident. “If you have to brake hard, a dog barrier will eliminate the possibility of your dog flying over the front seat or hitting the dashboard,” Dr. Riley said.

Reduces anxiety


“Some dogs can be pretty agitated and anxious in the car, and having a barrier provides them with a safe place they can rest in during the drive,” Dr. Kong said.

You might see your dog become less anxious in the car once he spends more time in his designated area.

“It also helps reduce anxiety in your dog if they get familiar with the location,” Dr. Riley said.

Protects car interiors


Since car barriers can keep dogs restricted to one area, they can prevent messes and damage to the other parts of the car. “For the car owners with new upholstery in the car, car barriers mean peace of mind as they protect dogs from scratching and ruining it,” Dr. Kong said.

Dog car barriers that double as car seat covers (like dog hammocks) are especially effective at keeping your interiors safe and clean.

Types of dog car barriers


Here are some common types of dog car barriers to consider:

  • Front seat barriers: These are secured behind the driver and passenger seats of the car and can be made out of mesh or a grid-like metal cage.
  • Hammock barriers: These are large pieces of usually water-resistant material that cover your car seats and block off access to the front of the vehicle.
  • Cargo barriers: They block off the cargo area so your pup can hang out in the back of a station wagon or SUV. Like front seat barriers, cargo barriers can be made out of mesh or a metal cage.
  • Cargo liners: This is a piece of usually water-resistant material that lines your cargo area and blocks off access to other areas of the car.

How to find the best dog car barrier


Here are some things to consider when looking for the best dog car barrier for you and your pup:

Location


Before purchasing a dog car barrier, you’ll need to figure out which part of your car you want to confine your pup to.

If you’re OK with your dog hanging out anywhere in the car except the driver and passenger seats, a front seat barrier works. If you want to confine your pup to one row of seats, then opt for a hammock.

If you want your pup to hang out in the back of your station wagon or SUV, you’ll want a cargo barrier.

Function


Since some car barriers can double as car seat covers, like with hammocks and liners, you’ll want to decide if that’s an attribute you want in your barrier. If not, simple mesh or metal blockades work perfectly fine.

Some barriers also come with compartments for organization so you can hold your pup’s travel supplies. This can be a huge bonus if you take trips with your pup often.

Strength


“When choosing a car barrier for dogs, make sure you choose one that will be sturdy enough to restrain your dog,” Dr. Riley said. “Choosing [a] premium-quality barrier will help ensure that they don't get scratches or tears.”

If your pup is large and active, choosing a strong car barrier is especially important. In general, “mesh barriers are good for small, inactive dogs,” Dr. Kong said. However, there are some super strong mesh barriers available.

Size of your car


If you have a larger car, like an SUV or a hatchback, using a cargo barrier or liner will give your pup a larger area to hang out in, which is good if your pup is big.

“Cargo barriers, which are designed to be carried in the cargo area of your vehicle, are best suited for larger and more active dogs,” Dr. Kong said.

Keep in mind that cargo barriers won’t work in smaller vehicles, though.

Dog hammocks are a great option for any sized car (and they can keep your seats clean, too). “Hammock barriers would be perfect for most dogs,” Dr. Kong said.

Best dog car barriers

dog car barrier

This highly rated dog car barrier is perfect for large cars, like SUVs or hatchbacks. It’s made out of a premium-quality steel that can hold up against large dogs, but it’s smooth enough that it won’t hurt him or damage your interiors. It’s easy to install (and requires no tools!) and can be easily adjusted to fit your dog’s specs. You can use it as a front seat barrier or a cargo barrier, so you can change it up to fit the occasion. 

mesh dog car barrier

This mesh car barrier is made of a super durable fabric that’s also machine washable. It’s also a really secure option since it comes with extra hooks so you can attach it to the bottom of the car seat in addition to the headrests. And the best part is that it comes with a couple of large storage pockets to carry your dog’s stuff in. 

wire dog car barrier

Another high-quality wire cage car barrier, this barrier from Perropaw will do an awesome job at keeping your dog from your front seat — no matter how large he is or how excited he gets. It’s also adjustable, so it works in small cars and with smaller dogs, too. 

car cargo liner

If you want to keep your pup in your cargo area, a liner is a great way to do that and keep your trunk clean. These liners from HelloTree on Amazon come in seven different options with different patterns, materials and sizes. All options include flaps that cover the sides of your car from claws, teeth marks and messes, which is definitely a plus. A few liners are extra long so they can cover your bumper when your pup enters and exits the car. 

Best dog car hammock: Grip-Tight Quilted Microfiber Hammock Seat Protector

This top-rated dog hammock is made of a water-resistant material that’s thick, durable and extremely soft. It completely covers your entire backseat and blocks your dog from getting to the front, which makes for a super clean and super safe drive with your pup. There’s also a nonslip backing that will prevent the hammock (and your dog) from sliding around in the back seat. We tried this car hammock with our own pups, and it was so safe and comfortable we gave it our Paw of Approval.

dog car barrier

For a more affordable option, this mesh car barrier can get the job done. It’s made of a thick polyester fiber that provides some durability. It’s also made of two layers of mesh that are connected at the bottom to create a small pocket, which can carry either your stuff or your dog’s. It comes in two sizes (10 by 12.5 inches and 14 by 15.8 inches), so you’ll be able to find a pretty good fit for your car. 

dog car barrier

Despite this being a mesh barrier, it’s hands down the strongest mesh dog barrier on the market. It’s supported by lightweight metal beams that surround and run through the mesh screens. It’s basically indestructible, so you can trust it will hold up against your large and active dog. And since it’s mesh, it gives you a full view of your pup without any bars in the way.