Friday, October 9, 2020

How to Make a DIY Dog Sling Pet Carrier from an Old Shirt (No Sewing!)

When our Chihuahua was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I needed a way to keep him close so I could help him if he ran into breathing problems, and also a way to keep him from dangerously overexerting himself or getting into something that would be bad for his condition. After all, if left to his own devices, a CHF diagnosis wasn't going to keep him from doing things like chasing the cat or licking spilled salt off the kitchen floor.

In short, I needed a dog sling. We had an old baby carrier that we sometimes used for hands-free carrying, and it worked in a pinch, but it wasn't ideal. After all, it was made for babies and toddlers, and at four pounds our little old pup was often in danger of falling through a leg hole, even when we lined it with his dog blanket.

One day, fed up with having to constantly catch him and stuff him back inside the carrier, I decided to get creative. After an hour or so of Googling and YouTubing and not finding anything quite right, and another hour or so brainstorming and mulling it over, the solution occurred to me: I could DIY a dog-sling out of an old long-sleeved t-shirt.

How to DIY a No-Sew Dog Sling from an Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

These slings are great for tiny dogs with health or mobility issues requiring them to be carried a lot, for hands-free carrying in public places where it's not safe to let them walk, or for little dogs who simply like to be held a lot.

What You Need:

  • A long-sleeved shirt*
  • Scissors
  • A tiny dog (a cat will work in a pinch)
*A long-sleeved t-shirt or some kind of knit shirt works best. You can use a button-down, but in my experiments, stretchy fabric has proven to be the most comfortable for my pup and also works best to keep him safely contained. An old cardigan could also work. If you don't have something buried in your closet, you can usually pick one up at a thrift store for a few bucks.
Also, it really doesn't matter whether you use a v-neck or a crew-neck. I've used both, and both work fine.

I'm all out of old shirts myself, so for the illustrations below I had to use one that's already been converted. The cutting's already done and it's pretty stretched out. But still, you should get the idea.

Step One*:

*You can skip this step if you're using a button-down or cardigan that's already open on the front.

Lay the t-shirt out with the front facing up. Using your scissors, cut a straight line all the way down the center of the front of the shirt.

DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt
In case you can't tell, my "assistant" is standing over the center cut, wondering what I'm doing with his carrier and why he's not in it.

Step Two:

With the front of the shirt facing you, tie the sleeves over your left shoulder, making the knot nice and tight. When you're done, it should hang like a cross-body purse.
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

Step Three:

Now you've got two tails hanging down on each side. Grab the right-hand tail and pull it up through the space between you and the shirt/sling and let it hang down in front.
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt

Step Four:

Take the bottom of the shirt and fold it up toward you, creating a large pocket.
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt


Step Five:

Wrap the right-hand tail around the back of your waist and tie it and the left-hand tale together over your right hip. Tie a good, tight double knot.
DIY No-Sew Dog Sling from Old Shirt


Step Six:

Insert your dog. I do this by holding my little guy against my chest with my right hand and sliding him down into the sling while holding it open with my left hand. Be careful to make sure that the back of your sling--the part against your body--is high enough to keep your pup from falling out, and that he's not sliding down between the back of the sling and your body.


Once the dog is in, you might need to make some adjustments to make it comfortable for you both. Don't worry if it feels a little tight -- as long as you used a shirt with stretchy fabric, it will stretch out pretty quickly.

If your dog is anything like mine, they'll intuit what the sling is for and won't be able to contain their excitement to get inside it. (Your cat might be significantly less enthusiastic, but will no doubt learn to love it eventually. Maybe. Who really knows with cats.)

This DIY no-sew dog sling has been a lifesaver, and it's 100% Pete approved. The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that your dog might get addicted to being kept snug up against you and expect to be worn all the time. So maybe think twice if you're not prepared to become a full-time dog wearer.

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DIY No-Sew Dog Sling


  1. I wear my dogs, but mostly while I'm sleeping. Around my house the Three Dog Night is every night. Thanks for the instructions. I'm making a sling right now.My Chi family would like a three story one please. Lol

    1. LOL! That's a lot of cuteness to keep up with. Let me know how they do with taking turns.