Introduction: Safety Harness for Dog to Ride in Pickup Truck Bed
One activity that I enjoy is taking my dog to the beach. Unfortunately, my dog enjoys waiting until she gets into the car before shaking off all the sand and seawater she collected while at the beach. I considered driving my truck instead and letting the dog ride in the back but I was worried about her safety. As my car started smelling more like wet dog, I started looking for safe options for the truck bed. While searching the Internet for harnesses, all the commercial products looked flimsy and over priced. I figured that I could probably make something better, so I did, (but I probably didn't save any money in the process).
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
I was able to find everything that I needed at my local hardware store.
1. Vinyl coated galvanized cable, (I used 3/8" by 8', but you can go thinner and cut to size).
2. Three stainless steel wire rope cable clip clamps, (sized to match cable).
3. Two stainless steel spring snap hook carabiners.
4. One stainless steel swivel snap hook, (I used a D shackle but would recommend the swivel hook).
5. Plasti Dip rubber coating.
1. Tape measure.
2. Box end wrench, (to tighten clamps).
3. Box cutter or utility knife.
4. Bolt cutters or hack saw, (unless you pre measure and have the cable cut to size).
Step 2: Loop Cables to Size With Cable Clip Clamp
Fold the ends of the cable over and attach the clamp using a box end wrench. I placed the clamps about 5" from the end of the loop. Through trial and error, I adjusted the overall length to fit my truck and trimmed the extra cable after. The width of my bed between tie down hooks is about 58". The cable length after trimming was 68". After taking the carabiners into account, (about 2.5" each) that gave me about 7" folded over for each loop. After the cable loops are clamped in place, use the carabiners to test the fit in your truck. Once you are satisfied with the length, use the third clamp to attach the swivel hook to the center of the cable, (the swivel hook is not pictured, but you can see where I attached the D ring in the 3rd picture of step 4).
Step 3: Plasti Dip the Clamps
This step is optional, but I think it makes it look a lot cleaner. It also covers sharp corners, prevents the nuts from coming loose, prevents corrosion, and reduces rattling noise from metal on metal. Directions on how to apply Plasti Dip are on the bottle but you basically just dip the clamps into the can. The only tricky part was bending the cable enough to get the clamps into the can. Transferring the plasti dip to a larger container would have made it easier but I applied two coats and the dip probably would have dried in the container before I could have added the second coat.
Step 4: Trim the Plasti Dip
I used a box cutter to score the Plasti dip while trying not to cut into the vinyl cable covering. The Plasti Dip peeled off fairly easily making clean line where it was scored.
Step 5: Attach the Cable to Your Truck
Now your cable is ready to attach to your truck. I mounted mine across the bed, midway down the length and secured my dog with a vest style harness that came with a tether, (Kurgo brand). In the event of an accident, a vest harness would ideally pull against the chest area instead of the neck.
The reason that I placed the cable midway across the bed is so that the harness might absorb some of the force during a rapid deceleration from a collision, (opposed to crashing through my rear window). The cable placement also allows my dog to move to either side but not over the rail.
After using it a few times, I noticed the tether between the cable and the harness kept getting twisted, that is why I recommend using a swivel attachment instead of a D ring.
I also installed a rubber mat in my bed that gives my dog traction under her feet.
Step 6: Conclusion
While my dog is probably still safer riding inside the car, I feel that she is now maybe 90% as safe in most situations riding in the back of my truck with roll overs being a notable exception. Considering that roll overs are relatively rare and usually driver error, I consider it acceptable risk.
Thanks for reading this and I hope you liked my "instructable".