Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Making a Zip Line for your Dog

Making a zip line for your dog is a great way to keep your pet safe. But it will also allow you both to enjoy your outing even more. Whether you’re camping, picnicking, or spending an afternoon in the park, a zip line makes the time you spend with your pup more relaxing and fun!

Ty the Shar-pei from on a zip line in a campsite

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Keeping our dogs safe, and abiding by the rules of many of the places we visit, means that Ty and Buster spend a lot of time on-leash. Though we’re always exploring new territory, life at the end of a six foot tether doesn’t provide the boys with a satisfying sense of freedom.

To give our dogs more room to wander while we’re camping, we devised an inexpensive doggy zip line!

Zip Line vs. Tie-Out

The zip line has a lot of advantages over cable tie-outs, which are often used to keep dogs from wandering off.

First, jumping up every two minutes to untangle your dog is a thing of the past. Ty and Buster were constantly wrapping their tie-outs around each other, the picnic table, and every tree, stick, and anthill in the campsite. It’s impossible to relax with those shenanigans going on!

Second, you’ll never again experience that gut-wrenching feeling as you watch your dog bolt to the end of their unforgiving cable tie-out. The zip line protects your pet 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

Ty the Shar-pei and Buster the German Shepherd lounging in a campsite on their zip line

Materials and Assembly

Any hardware store will have the materials needed for the zip line. All that’s needed is some nylon rope and two spring clasps. The whole works cost us about ten dollars.

We chose a rope with a smooth cover, which makes it comfortable to handle when we’re setting it up and taking it down. It also has a bit of stretch for some shock absorbency to protect the dogs from a harsh stop.

Rod used his Eagle Scout skills to expertly 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 will keep them from unraveling. And – SHAZAM – the zip line is ready for action!

Coiled rope with snap clips attached to each end

Deciding On Length

The most difficult part of making your zip line will be deciding how long it should be.

Since we have two dogs, we decided on a 50 foot line. That give us plenty of length to attach the zip line at each end with the middle wrapped around a tree, picnic table, or post (whatever’s handy).


It take 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 made one full pass around the middle tree, creating the short run where Ty’s attached. Then we wrapped the rope around a third tree (out of the frame) and clipped the spring clap back to the rope. That creates the longer run where Buster is attached. Giving the boys their own space keeps them from getting tangled around each other.

Ty the Shar-pei and Buster the German Shepherd from lounging on their zip line in a campsite Ty the Shar-pei and Buster the German Shepherd from lounging on their zip line in a campsite

Connecting Dogs to the Zip Line

Pets should never be attached to the zip line by their collar, because it could choke them if they became tangled. We use Buster and Ty’s harnesses, which have 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.

Placing Ty and Buster’s water bowls near the middle tree allow them both reach them, and we’re done! Just remember never to leave your pal unattended on the zip line.

Ty the Shar-pei and Buster the German Shepherd from lounging on their zip line in a campsite Ty the Shar-pei and Buster the German Shepherd from lounging on their zip line in a campsite

Have your tried a zip line with your pets? Please share your experience in the comments below!

READ MORE ⇒  US State Parks that Welcome Pets


Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Alcott Martingale Collar

Alcott Weekender Leash

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!



Accommodations | Destinations | Trip Planner


  • bettysue says:

    thank you so much for this. this is the first year we will be camping with dogs. we are so excited but a little nervous. this idea is def. going to help.

  • Rolandi says:

    Soo helpfull. Thank you for sharing this.
    I am going with my dogs to a glamping spot in April and was wondering if there is a fence to keep them close by etc but this will definitely help. Ill just make sure i have enough metres of rope.

  • really great article.thanks sharing your experience to us,which will be helped my dog.picture are really good.overall it’s a very good travel guide.

  • Lisa says:

    Not sure if anyone will see this, but what work load weight would the caribiner need to be to hold a medium-sized, strong dog on the DIY zipline you’ve made? The caribiner you linked has a 650 lb work load and that seems excessive.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Lisa! Yes, you’re right, that caribiner might be more than you’d need. It seem like mass x velocity = force equation might come in handy here. If you have a 50 pound dog and he can accelerate to 5 mph on the zip line, a caribiner than is rated for 250 pounds would work. Hope that helps!

    • Andy says:

      It’s not excessive. The work loaf is different than the weight of the dog. If you have an athletic dog that works up a head of steam they could create 500-600 lbs of force easily.

  • Reddog says:

    Attaching ropes of any kind to trees in most state parks, forests etc. can get you a hefty fine from the park rangers!

    • Amy at says:

      Thanks for your note, Reddog! Of course, we’d never suggest putting up the zip line in any place where it’s not allowed. Always check the rules first, but in 9+ years of traveling full-time, we’ve found that it is allowed in the majority of campgrounds.

  • Valerie says:

    I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts are on whether this system would be effective for a very strong dog. Would it work to use a tie-out cable between trees, rather than a rope, and a short or looped tie-out cable instead of the leash to attach to the harness?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Valerie! Yes, this system will definitely work for a strong dog. If you want, you can even go so far as to get rock climbing rope, designed to carry significant weight. Your tie-out idea would also work. I just find those cable tie-out more cumbersome to coil up and store for the next trip than a rope. Good luck!

    • Chris says:

      Just get less stretchy rope for your dog. Some rope has a foam core that he could stretch out. Get something heavier and make sure you tie a decent knot.

  • Liv says:

    Love the idea! I wouldn’t say this costs $10 though, the nylon rope you’ve linked costs $35 alone.

    • Amy at says:

      Good point, Liv! That’s a perfect example of the cost of convenience. The rope I linked to costs much more than purchasing it from a bulk roll in a hardware store. If you have the time, pick up the supplies at a local retailer and you’ll be able to complete the project at a lower cost. Thanks for your note!

  • Robert says:

    I enjoyed the article. Full disclaimer, I’m the owner of Rover Roamer Aerial Dog Runs, but I think I may be able to contribute to the conversation. These points come from my own experience.

    1) Use what I call a “neck-safe bungee” between the line and the leash to reduce any whiplash effects from running until restrained. When I camp, I personally put the line up above my head so I don’t clothesline anyone or trip over it.
    2) For a dog, even worse than discipline is a feeling of abandonment. They are social creatures and rely on a sense of belonging. A dog may feel abandoned if left on a dog run without some comforts nearby like familiar toys, a blanket, a dog bed, and maybe an old t-shirt that smells like you. Check in regularly to assure your pet that they are not being punished. Give them love and rewards for good behavior.
    3) Dogs inherently don’t like to be tied up. A quiet system is best. Rope is quiet and stretches. Using a harness helps reduce the stress of feeling tied up.
    4) Use bumpers/rope clamps on the line, situated far enough away from trees so they don’t get wrapped around the anchor points.
    5) Observe them on the track to make sure the bumpers are set apart correctly and that they don’t chew off the leash.

    Great article and love the pics!

  • Barbara Pattee Hoffman That’s too funny, Barbara! I haven’t seen the movie, but I read the book and it was incredible.

  • Brandy S West We just recently watched A Dog’s Purpose. My dog is quite a tv watcher. But, he watched all but about 10 min of this movie. He sat right on the couch and watched with me. LOL

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