Whether you’re camping, picnicking, or spending an afternoon in the park, having a zip line for your dog keeps him safe and makes the time you spend together even more relaxing and fun!
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Keeping our dog safe, and abiding by the rules of many of the places we visit, means that Myles spend a lot of time on-leash. Though we’re always exploring new places, life at the end of a six foot tether doesn’t provide him with much freedom. So, to give Myles more room to wander while we’re camping, we made an inexpensive zip line for our dog!
Zip Line vs. Tie-Out
The zip line has a lot of advantages over cable tie-outs, which people often use to keep dogs from wandering off.
First, jumping up every two minutes to untangle your dog doesn’t happen with a zip line. If you have a dog who’s constantly wrapping his tie-out around the picnic table, tent stake, trees, and your chair, you know how impossible it is to relax with those shenanigans going on!
Second, you’ll never again feel the dread of watching your dog bolt to the end of their unforgiving cable tie-out. The zip line has more give and protects pets from injury.
Third, the zip-line won’t trip you when you’re stumbling around the campfire in the dark!
READ MORE ⇒ Tips for RVing with Pets
Materials and Assembly
All you’ll need to make a zip line for your dog is some nylon rope and two spring clasps. Any hardware store will have these materials, or you can order them online for about fifteen dollars.
We chose a rope with a smooth cover, which makes it comfortable to handle when we’re putting it up and taking it down. It also has a bit of stretch for some shock absorbency to protect Myles from a sudden stop.
Rod used his Eagle Scout skills to handle the knot tying. He made quick work of the two bowline knots, attaching the spring clasps to the ends of rope.
Melting the fibers by passing the raw ends of the rope though a flame keeps them from unraveling. And – SHAZAM – the zip line is ready for action!
Deciding On Length
The most difficult part of making your zip line will be deciding how long it should be.
We decided on a 50 foot line, which gives Myles plenty of room to explore. And because having too much is better than not enough.
That length also gives us more flexibility if we’re at a campsite with few anchor points. If we don’t have trees, we can attach one end to the ladder on the back of our motorhome and the other to a picnic table or post.
Setting Up The Zip Line
Before setting up your dog’s zip line at a park or campground, check the rules to verify that they allow the rope to be wrapped around the trees. Also, placing a 1 to 2 inch webbing between the tree and the rope will help protect trees with soft bark. Nails and screws should not be attached to the tree when putting up your zip line.
It takes about five minutes to set up our zip line. In the photo below, we’ve wrapped one end of the rope around a tree and clipped the spring clasp on to the rope. Then, keeping the rope taught, we ran the rope to another tree, going around the tree as many times as necessary to take up the slack before clipping the spring clasp back to the rope.
The rope is placed high enough to just give Myles the ability to lie down comfortably. Giving him just enough leeway keeps him from building up too much velocity and jerking at the end of his leash if he decides to chase a gofer or give a squirrel a run for his money.
We also use the dog zip line when our campsites have a ramada. It’s easy to wrap the line around two posts and snap the ends back on the rope.
One Zip Line For Two Dogs
When we still had Ty and Buster, we made separate runs for each dog on the zip line.
We’d wrap the rope around the first tree and clip the spring clasp back to the rope. Then we’d make a complete pass around a second tree, creating the first section of zip line where Ty’s attached in the photo below. Then we’d wrap the rope around a third tree and clip the spring clasp back to the rope. That created the second run of zip line where Buster is attached in the photo below. Giving the boys their own space kept them from getting tangled around each other!
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Connecting Dogs A Zip Line
Pets should never be attached to a zip line by their collar, because it could choke them if they became tangled. When he’s on the zip line, Myles wears his harness, which has a loop on the back to connect the leash. The final step is to slip a heavy-weight carabiner through the leash handle and snap it on the line.
What’s “heavy-duty” enough for your carabiners? It depends on your dog! Mass times velocity = force. So, if you have a 50-pound dog and he can accelerate to 5 mph on the zip line, a caribiner rated for 250 pounds should be sufficient. Again, it’s best to err on the side of safety.
Place your pup’s water bowl within easy reach and you’re done! Just remember never to leave your pal unattended on the zip line.
Have you tried a zip line with your pets? Please share your experience in the comments below!
What You’ll Need For Your Dog Zip Line:
2 Hounds No-Pull Harness or Ruffwear Front Range Harness
Heavy-duty Carabiner (1 for each dog)
Your dog’s leash
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We have a permanent RV spot and use something similar. We want the dogs to be able to go off the deck and into the trees on their own so we have 30′ (maybe 20′, can’t remember) leashes attached to the line. The problem is we’re constantly untangling the leashes or the dogs are taking out lawn chairs, tables etc if they see a squirrel or chipmunk and bolt off the deck.
I’ve thought about trying the retractable leashes but having a hard time finding a durable and large enough carabiner that I can get the handle through.
Great setup though!
Hi Gary! I agree, the zip line is great for giving a dog a bit more freedom without working they’ll go exploring on their own. I’d worry that the dog could get tangled in a retractable leash and get hurt. I got caught up in one once and had some pretty deep cuts. Thanks for your note, and have a great day!