A Stronger Cheaper Auto Pet Barrier.




About: Jack of all trades, master of none.. I have been a mechanic for 16 years. As a mechanic I am a plumber, an electrician, a welder, a computer tech, a diagnostician, and so much more.. In that time I have also...

First instructable, so bear with me.
Most all everything created is due to a need. I came across a need, therefore had to get creative. Me and my wife love animals, especially dogs. We have decided to rescue and foster dogs in need. Military people deployed, people moving and not being able to keep their dog. We take in the harder to home dogs, the larger breeds. We also live in Alaska where the summers are awesome and the surroundings are gorgeous and we have to be able to get out. So with different dogs with different attitudes and lots of driving we needed a way to keep us and the dogs safe. Safe from each other, and from having 300lbs of dog flying into the back of us on hard braking conditions. We tried one of the basic dog barriers bought at a pet store. They work ok, but aren’t strong enough for larger and stronger breeds. That brings us to my instructable..

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Step 1: The Parts

I built it for our 1997 Chevrolet Suburban “the dog bus”. I have looked at a few other vehicles and though you have to change the bracketry, the barrier can be built the same for most. I spent less than $35 on this barrier which is less than half the cost of some of the universal barriers.

Items needed:
2 – 1/2” conduit, 10ft pieces
1 roll of your choice of barrier material.
6 – ½” compression conduit connectors
2 – ½” pipe t-fitting
2 – L brackets
2 – 1 ½” u-bolts

Tools needed:
Wire cutters
Crescent wrench

Step 2: Build the Frame

I measured from the floor to the roof. I added 10 inches to that measurement and cut a length of conduit that length. I didn’t happen to have a conduit bender at home so I used the trailer hitch to bend it. I bent this guide piece, contouring it from floor and making the bend at the ceiling. Then with a full piece of conduit I followed the same bend as the guide piece. I set the conduit inside the vehicle and found where the next bend was to start bending. I then bent the other side contouring it to the interior. I then cut the remainder off then end. What you have then is a U shaped bar that goes from floor to ceiling and across to the other side and then back down to the floor.
Next I set the frame into the vehicle and measured the distance between the ends. I subtracted 2 ½ inches from that measurement and then cut a straight piece of conduit to that length. The compression connectors I purchased put a ½ inch pipe thread on the end of the conduit. Putting this all together I created a full frame. I put a couple inches of conduit on the bottom that drops into a storage area in the suburban.
I had found electrical bases (which you can see in the parts picture) that would work in certain cars too. You could screw them into the floor of the car and then screw the conduit into them. Actually if you check into electrical boxes there are many ideas that can be used for your certain situation.

Step 3: Build the Mounts

Next I needed a place to attach this that was secure and didn’t want to tear into the interior of the vehicle. The seatbelt mounting is made to be sure strong and at the perfect area. There is spacing behind the seatbelt holder. I didn’t want to actually use the bolt to hold the bracket in place as it would change the safety design and strength. So I decided to go around the bolt post leaving the thread depth all the same.
Using a couple large L brackets I drilled and dremelled out the first hole to be large enough to go around the seatbelt bolt post. I then drilled another hole for the u-bolt on the other side of the bracket. Cutting down the excess and then grinding the edges so they weren’t so sharp. I then unbolted the seatbelts and placed the brackets behind them and rebolted the seatbelts in place.

Step 4: Cut the Barrier Mesh

I had a few choices for the barrier material: Plastic mesh, small metal mesh, larger metal mesh, etc. I wanted smaller holes to keep the dogs from putting body parts through them. Unfortunately they only had that in 2 ft wide rolls. It would have to do.

I straightened the roll of wire mesh out. The best way I found to do this was running it across a piece of wood, as if you were trying to uncrinkle a dollar bill before putting it in a vending machine. Be carefull all the edges are very pointy and sharp. I laid the barrier frame on top of the unrolled mesh. Using wire cutters I cut the mesh leaving about an inch hanging over each side. I then rolled the edges over and cut the corners. Using a couple small pieces of mechanics wire I temporarily held the first piece of mesh in place. Then I laid the frame on the mesh again, overlapping 2 squares I then cut the upper mesh piece to fit. I then rolled it over the edges and tied it in place with small pieces of wire.

Step 5: Attach the Mesh to the Frame

Using Paracord I wrapped and tied the upper and lower pieces together. It actually feels surprisingly strong. I then wrapped the paracord around the mesh and frame every couple of squares and pulling the mesh tight to the frame. I tied each end off a few times.

Step 6: Mount the Barrier

I then put the whole barrier in place in the vehicle. Slipping the u-bolts around the frame and into the hold in the bracket and putting the nuts on. I have to adjust the bracket or remake it so that the trim piece clicks into place. After I do that I will double nut the u-bolts so that the nuts don’t spin off after time.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Time With the Dogs

The only thing left to do is load some dogs, a camera, and drive!! I can see through this barrier much easier than the store bought one. I feel more secure with the dogs separated. And now you may steal some ideas and design your own.. Thanks for reading..

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    25 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I too am converting my 2000 Town & Country into a rescue vehicle. I was shopping around for a barrier and most people who bought one had an issue with rattling and instability.Yours seems to fit the bill just great .Thank you from me and future rescues.

    GREAT IDEA! when I get a different car with a back space the dog can go into I WILL build this.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You mentioned something about double nuts on the "U" bolts to keep them from coming loose/coming off.....

    why not use a fibered nut? it has a plastic insert that makes it stay tight for YEARS....they come in just about any size you would need...granted they can be a pain ti install because you need a wrench/ratchet to install them, but once they're in, they do not come loose. Price wise, you may have to pay 1 or 2 pennies more for them than you would a regular, non fibred nut.

    Just a thought Sir.

    I have a mini bus(20 - 25 passenger) that I bought for work, & built a divider between the cab & the back end....works great for many things....


    7 years ago on Step 7

    Very Nice,

    I have a 99 burb and have been trying to figure out the best way to put in a barrier to keep the dogs in the back. I have 2 kids so I need the back seats but I REALLY like your method of attaching the barrier to the seat belt brackets.

    I'll have to try this out.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 7

    After a full year and probably 10k miles with the dogs the barrier is still there and I haven't had to repair anything.. its just a build it and forget it thing.. And it was way cheaper than those ones that you can buy and that didn't work for my dogs.. They pulled the store bought one down a couple times even after I used bungee cords on it too..
    If your keeping your back seats up for sitting you could build one half this size and have the bottom rail of it just at seat level and attach it to the headrest supports...


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    thankyou for rescuing dogs. Heart of gold. I've 15 of my own and 3 of the big ones were rescues. Few initial problems with 1 until she learnt my hubby was boss man, she's fine now. A rotty x staff we think. Not keen on me and gurns at me but i keep out of her way. I'm disabled n can't get my wheelchair in that part of the house anyway due to a couple of steps.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    when you fasten the screen to the frame, would it not be easier or better to use wire ties? you know, them plastic things that get wrapped around wires....some people call them "zip strips"...

    I don't know if it would be as strong but it should be just as tight.

    6 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    Easier? maybe.. Stronger? maybe..
    I happen to have 1500ft of paracord laying around.. Its benefits are that it is softer. You can pull on it to tighten the mesh closer to the frame.
    Also have you ever cut a zip tie off and felt how sharp the cut off edges are? As a mechanic I run into that problem all the time and end up with the scrapes to prove it. I wouldnt want to have to deal with the sharp edges or make the dogs deal with them either..
    Doing it again, if I didn't have any paracord I would find some and skip the zip ties..
    Oh, and paracord is a hugely usefull tool for many emergencies.. With us in deep wilderness often I know I have paracord around if needed..


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    great sense, I did like the para cord idea rather than I think you mean what we in England call cable ties ??


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    point well made.

    If I seemed to be less than respectful, I appologize; I never meant to come off that way Sir. Again, I appologize.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    Nope, didnt take it that way at all.. Explaination got long because I just had multiple reasons.. maybe should have put them all in the instructable itself.. oh well they are down here now...


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Admittedly I have chihuahuas besides 2 Rottweilers and 2 Labradors but this looks such hard word. I have 6 children and 4 are very often with us and I have an 02 reg Ford Transit Tourneo I have had since nearly new. I can remove rows of 3 seats. I have dog crates of varying sizes. Obv my lower ones are for the larger dogs and the crates are held down by bunjee cords to D rings in various places of the minibus. Higher up or depending how many kids aboard, maybe the floor, depends on where the other crates go. This wasn't expensive to me because as more dogs moved in, so did more crates. My Husband can take half an hour to disassemble the vehicle from a 'dogs at the beach bus' to a family day out vehicle. I like your idea but personally I'd use 3/4" plywood.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow great thinking I want to try this with my weimaraner He has the whole back of the SUV and I want him to stop trying to stand on the arm rest between the front seat because it blocks my view of the side and rear view mirror. I think I will just make it a smaller and find a way to string it between the front seats. Thanks


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My Red Nose Pit is up to 100lbs, He's tough but I need help! Ingenious! I might try it! Awesome first instructable! I just posted my first yesterday! Enjoy, Janet