A car barrier for dogs is among those items that we don’t usually realize we’re going to need as we’re getting a dog only to later find out them to be much more than just a luxury item. In fact, dog car barriers are an essential item for any dog owner that has to frequently drive together with a dog, be it to the vet, to work, to the park, or anywhere else.
There are other pet supplies that can serve a similar function as a car barrier, such as dog travel crates and carriers, seat belts, car harnesses and booster seats, but they're not exactly the same thing. In this article we’ll focus on car barriers specifically, how they differ, how and when you may need them instead of other alternatives. We’ll go over the main characteristics of a good dog car barrier, how to choose and use one, and we’ll wrap things up with our list of the five best dog car barriers on the market right now.
What Are Dog Car Barriers?
Dog car barriers are exactly what their name implies – a barrier designed to be placed between the front and back seats of a car or behind the back seats in order to restrict the movement of dogs and other pets within the vehicle.
This is what a car barrier for dogs looks like:
These barriers can be made out of different materials: metal, plastic, cloth net or a combination of two or all three. Depending on its exact materials and design, a dog car barrier can be easier or harder to install. It can also fit in a wider array of vehicle types or in a more specific and narrower vehicle type depending again on its design and materials.
Metal dog car barriers are typically sturdier, more durable and offer more security. Net dog car barriers are easier to install, fit in more vehicle types, and are softer for the dog in the case of an impact. Which one is better for your situation depends on many factors, which we'll talk about below.
Currently, the best dog car barriers to choose from are these five:
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Why You Need a Car Barrier for Dogs
Let's consider some data first. American Automobile Association says that over 80% of dog owners do not restrain their pets when traveling in a car and only about 20% of them actually use restraints (source). As a result, about 60% of them are driving while distracted by their pets in a variety of ways – petting, letting the dog sit on their lap, feeding, etc.
Generally, if you're already utilizing any other dog car safety items (booster seats, crates, carriers, seat belts or harnesses), then it's possible you may not need a car barrier. However, there are times when you might want to use a combination of the two. Dog car barriers serve two general purposes.
1. Restricts the dog to a certain area of the vehicle.
Pet owners are often tempted to interact with their dogs during a long car ride, stroking their ears and petting, or simply trying to calm them down. However, the reality is that such behavior is extremely dangerous and brings too much risk to be worth it.
- Interacting with a dog can distract us which can be just as dangerous – if not more – than chatting on a phone while driving. Data shows that such distracted driving is one of the major causes of vehicle crashes in the United States.
- Should a dog fall into a panic for whatever reason during a ride it can obstruct our movements and driving in a myriad of ways. We all think we know our canine pals well enough but you never really know if something isn’t going to scare off your pooch and cause an accident.
- Rowdy and misbehaving dogs should be restricted at all times anyway. If they are big they can be dangerous by themselves and if they are small they can easily get in the way of the pedals, the wheel, the gear, and so on.
2. Protects both you and the dog in case of an accident.
For the very same reason that we wear seat belts, dogs need at least some protection and restraint as well. In the event of a crash, a dog can be thrown towards the front window with massive force just as easily as a human. This, in turn, can be deadly for both the dog, for you, and for the rest of the passengers in the car.
Small dogs may not be dangerous projectiles to their owners, but their own lives will be a much more significant risk due to their small size. Big dogs are more likely to survive car crashes, but they can also become lethal projectiles if they get in the air in the event of a crash and are thrown at the people in the vehicle. A dog barrier protects you from such an event and can also soften the blow for the dog.
How to Use a Dog Car Barrier Effectively?
Regardless of what you need it for, a dog barrier for cars should always fit well into the space its intended for, should be well-attached to the vehicle's fixtures, and should be sturdy enough the withstand both the constant pressure from a potentially hyperactive dog, as well as the pressure from its body in the case of an accident. To ensure this, you'll need to pay close attention to barrier's measurements, design and materials.
In most cases, a car barrier should protect you from the dog entirely – if the pooch is small, the barrier should cover all small spaces between the seats and the car so that the dog can’t get through. For bigger dogs, this isn’t that much of a concern as they can’t fit through small openings, although they can still attempt to lick, bite or scratch you through them and thereby distract you from driving.
Depending on the size of your dog, a car dog barrier should offer sufficient protection from any potentially distracting interaction. Some car barriers intentionally leave spaces large enough for a human hand so that you can reach through if you want. Others have pockets for treats and food in them, but these are all mostly luxury items. Ideally, you should NOT turn to, touch, play with or interact with a dog while driving – leave this for when you stop the car.
How to Choose a Good Dog Car Barrier?
In the above table and below reviews, we've listed the five best car barriers for dogs that are likely to fit most pet owners' needs and their vehicles in the United States. When you're shopping for this item, the key to choosing the right car barrier for dogs that fits your vehicle properly is determined by what type of barrier you want.
Here are the main considerations to keep in mind:
• Placement. Do you need a barrier between the front and back seats or a barrier behind the back seats? These two types of vehicle pet barriers are quite different in design, mainly because the latter tend to only cover the upper part of your vehicle’s width. If you place this type of vehicle barrier between the front and back seats, it will leave plenty of space beneath it for dogs to pass through, which isn't good.
• Spaces to cover. Do you need a full-width barrier or just a barrier to cover a specific small space between the seats? The latter variants tend to leave spaces on the sides of the car seats which could be a problem with smaller dogs that can fit through there. If your pooch is big enough, however, it’s possible that these spaces don’t need a barrier anyway.
• Sturdiness. Do you need a metal or a strong plastic barrier to stop rowdy dogs, as well as to offer extra protection in case of crashes? Or do you instead want a softer net barrier to keep your pets simply restricted and to offer medium protection in case of an accident? Keep in mind that while the standard net barrier isn’t as strong as a full-metal one, it’s also softer and – as long as it holds during an accident – it will hurt your dog much less.
• Size. What size is the area in your vehicle that you want to cover and what size dog car barrier do you need? One of the most common problems for most customers is buying a car barrier that doesn’t fit their vehicle. Whenever you choose a pet barrier, look into its precise dimensions as well as the locations of its straps or hooks. After that, measure the interior of your vehicle and make sure that the barrier will fit perfectly inside and will be easy to attach to its fixtures.
The 5 Best Dog Car Barriers
To better illustrate how to shop for a good vehicle barrier for pets, here are the five best car barriers for dogs that our editorial team liked and how we've picked and ranked them. You can either pick one of these items, or use these reviews as a dog car barrier buying guide when you're shopping by yourself.
1. Bushwhacker Paws n Claws Cargo Area Dog Barrier
The Bushwhacker dog barrier is designed for CUV and mid-sized SUV vehicles. It has dimensions of 47” width and 21” height. Designed to almost fully divide the back seat area of the car from the front, this net mesh pet screen is scratch and tear resistant for extra security and longevity. It’s held in place by a half inch lightweight metal tubing that both keeps it steady and prevents dogs from squeezing under, over or around the barrier.
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With its sturdy metal frame design, generally easy setup process, durability, and security, this Bushwhacker barrier is likely to be the most fitting option for majority of pet owners and their vehicles who are looking for “serious” barrier.
- The sturdy design and metal frame make this a very secure option.
- The net mesh screen is very durable and scratch-resistant.
- The Bushwhacker dog barrier is very easy to install.
- Because of its metal frame, Bushwhacker barrier will fit well only in certain vehicles.
2. SCENEREAL Pet Dog Net Vehicle Barrier
For a soft net barrier that’s a bit more budget-friendly as well as more universal in its design, the SCENEREAL pet vehicle barrier has dimensions of 33.86” height and 32.68” width. It doesn’t have a sturdy outside frame and instead can be attached to your vehicle directly with its adjustable straps on the top and bottom of the net. This allows it to easily fit into most cars, trucks, SUVs, etc.
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Made out of a durable elastic mesh and Oxford cloth, this net barrier has a relatively durable design without obstructing your rear view. Lightweight and easy to install, the net dog barrier like this one gives some additional security for an affordable price and without costing you any convenience.
- The adjustable straps allow it to fit in most vehicles.
- The durable net mesh offers a lot of protection without sacrificing convenience or obstructing your field of view.
- It’s lightweight and easy to install.
- The lack of a secure frame leaves open spaces on the sides of the seats and over the net. This can allow an extra-rowdy dog to cause some troubles.
3. Eackrola Safety Pet Barrier Car Net
For something minimalistic and less obstructive, this Eackrola dog barrier net is designed to only cover the space between the two front seats of the vehicle. With dimensions of 12.6” height and 11” width it perfectly fits most cars, SUVs, trucks, jeeps, and other vehicles. It attaches easily with the 4 hooks on its corners and is fairly adjustable. It will not obstruct your field of view, seatbelts, or movements in any way and is designed to simply keep pets and kids from getting directly between the two front seats and disturbing you while driving.
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It's important to note that this net barrier will not do anything to prevent pets from jumping over or sneaking through the outside of the car seats, nor will it protect them from a severe crash – it’s not designed for that. It does work perfectly as a simple low barrier, but if you're looking for protection, this isn't a recommended option.
- Very easy to install and universally fitting.
- Doesn’t obstruct your driving in any way.
- Will keep kids and pets from reaching between the two front seats.
- This is not a full-size barrier and doesn’t offer complete protection against rowdy dogs or crashes. It’s designed to only lightly obstruct pets and kids from reaching between the seats.
4. NAC&ZAC SUV Pet Barrier
Back to something larger, this NAC&ZAC dog barrier for car has a height of 37” and a width of 46”. It will cover almost the entire width of most SUVs and vehicles. It also has multiple adjustable straps which allow it to easily fit in different types of vehicles. There are also extra strips at the central bottom part of the net to offer additional protection for the console area of the car.
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Made out of durable mesh, this net is somewhere between a metal/plastic barrier and regular soft net barrier. It will offer you durable and convenient protection at a budget price. It's very easy to install and remove so that you can do this on a regular basis.
- Easy to install and adjustable to fit different vehicle types.
- Offers extra protection at the console area of the car.
- Offers a good deal of protection with its durable net mesh.
- The lack of an outside metal frame makes it less sturdy.
- Rowdy dogs might be able to get through the outsides of the seats.
5. Jumbl Pet Metal Dog Barrier
For a full-metal option, this Jumbl Pet dog barrier can offer your SUV, jeep or car complete protection against rowdy dogs or for crashes. The wide wire mesh makes sure that your rear view won’t be obstructed while still being more than secure enough to keep your pet where you need him or her to be. With a height of the main body of 16.5” and width of 35.5” plus dimensions of the side panels of 10.5” height and 12”width, this barrier will only cover the upper part of your vehicle’s width. This means that you’ll need a different type of obstruction for below the barrier.
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This is by far one of the most durable car barriers for dogs available, but it's not very flexible and is likely to leave spaces. It will work with large dogs but is unlikely to be good at keeping small dogs out of your front seats or back seats. If that's not an issue, then this is a safe choice for anyone looking for a durable wire mesh and metal design.
- The side panels can be adjusted in relation to the main one. This allows the barrier to fit in most cars, SUVs, and other vehicles.
- The strong wire mesh will give you complete security when dealing with even the wildest dogs.
- Despite its full-metal design, the barrier is very easy to install.
- This barrier will only cover the upper part of a vehicle’s width. This makes it great for restricting dogs behind the back seats but will need an additional net if you want to keep your dog on the back seat and restrict him or her from reaching the front ones.
Dog car barriers are an essential tool in the arsenal of any dog owners that frequently travel with their canine companions in their cars and are great at keeping dogs away from the front seats, as well as giving an extra level of protection for both the dogs and other passengers in case of a crash. That said, they are not a replacement for other dog car restraints such as seat belts or harnesses, and it's best to utilize both.
Car barriers for dogs serve two main functions: 1) they keep dogs from distracting you while driving and getting in the way, and 2) they offer both us and our dogs extra protection in the case of an accident. If neither of these are a problem for you, then you likely do not need a vehicle barrier for your pets.
Buying a pet barrier depends on several factors, and primarily on the type of vehicle and the type of dog(s) you have. As both vehicles and dogs can vary a lot in size, however, finding a good dog car barrier that fits your car can be a challenge sometimes. Durability, security, convenience, and price are other factors to consider but once you find the right barrier for your vehicle it’s more than worth it.
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