How To Dog-Proof Your Car

Photo credit: Jaromir Chalabala /

Being a dog owner is a great thing. It’s something everyone should try to experience once in their lives. Part of that, however, may not be so fun. Especially if you care about your cars, putting your dog into one can be an ordeal. Obviously, the best solution here is good training habits. Assuming that’s been handled, there are still steps owners can take to ensure their companions don’t damage the interior of a car, and more still that will keep your pet safe in the process. Today we’ll get into what you can do to dog-proof your car and keep your pet safe in the process.

It’s best to start with what happens when a pet gets into a car. Often, dogs will put their paws on a door sill or trunk sill to climb in- doubly so if you’ve got a tall car a pet can’t step into. To protect that paint, we recommend getting some paint-protection film installed on door and trunk sills. We’ve been quoted as little as $100 for a single door, so it’s a relatively cheap item that’ll keep your car protected for as long as you have it.

Realistically, you’ll want to focus on the area your pet sits in. For most, that means the trunk. In order to keep dirty paws and sharp claws away from easily damaged trip pieces, you might want to look into a cargo liner like the 4Knines SUV Cargo Liner. Offered in several sizes and colors, this liner will cover the floor and seatbacks of your car in a 60/40 split. It’s also waterproof, which is great for messier dogs. It is worth noting you’ll need to spend a little more to get one that’s chew-proof.

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We’ll kill two birds with one product here. A nice dog seat belt is the first safety purchase you should make- and something your dog should be living with from its first car ride. Just like with people, a seatbelt will massively improve safety in the event of an accident- or even a sudden stop. They also keep anxious pets from moving around too much or putting their feet up on window sills, keeping your interior scratch-free. That said, the best dog seat belts will all be crash-tested, like the EzyDog Drive Harness. It’s adjustable for a number of dog sizes and fits all seat belts for ease of use. Another alternative is a tether, which directly clips into the seatbelt or ISOFIX mount, and largely fills the same role as a leash, clipping onto an existing harness. We like the Leash Boss Dog Car Seat Belt Restraint. It comes in a number of sizes and lengths to fit different pooches, and the steel construction is chew-proof, too.

Finally, let’s not forget comfort. So long as your dog is safe, it may as well be comfortable too. Kong makes great, durable dog beds, and now it makes one for cars too. The KONG Fold-Up Non-Slip Dog Travel Mat should fit most SUVs, measuring 36 inches long and 23.5 inches wide. It’s more than enough room for a pet, and the folding design is great for when you’ve got to put it away and carry something other than a pet for a little bit. The bottom is also non-skid, so rest easy if the mat isn’t a perfect fit in your car. Thankfully, the cover is also removable for easy washing, which is a huge plus.

It’s also a good idea to leave some treats or a toy in the car for your dog. Staring out the window can only be fun for so long, but these accessories should help keep your car- and your pet- protected.

Photo credit: Reflejaarte /
Chase Bierenkoven
Chase Bierenkoven

Chase is an automotive journalist with years of experience in the industry. He writes for outlets like Edmunds and AutoGuide, among many others. When not writing, Chase is in front of the camera over at The Overrun, his YouTube channel run alongside his friend and co-host Jobe Teehan. If he's not writing reviews of the latest in cars or producing industry coverage, Chase is at home in the driver's seat of his own (usually German) sports cars.

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