Camping with dogs, lots of fun but also lots of work.
My boyfriend and I are avid campers here in Canada, we try and spend as much time as we can up north in our Provincial and National Parks. We love to bring our two dogs, Storm (2yr old German Shepherd) and Suka (6yr old lab mix). For the most part, camp grounds and parks want dogs on leashes at all times unless in dog designated areas/beaches. Initially we went with 15' leashes and a large spiral tie out stake, and for the most part it worked. The dogs remained on their leashes at all times and still we able to explore our camp site without us in tow. However we soon realized that they would eventually wrap their leash around and around the stake until they were left with no slack whatsoever, we then would have to intervene and unwrap both 15' leashes; this ended up happening several times each day.
With a bit of research and trial and error, we made our first cable run for the dogs. Here's how to make your own for about $60!
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
All you will need is a ratchet/socket wrench
- Steel cable, length depends on the area you are setting it up. We got 50' to be safe for $20 https://www.lowes.ca/cables-chains/50-ft-weldless...
- 2-4 wire rope clips, the more you have the stronger it will be. They are about $1 to $2 each . https://www.lowes.ca/cables-chains/50-ft-weldless...
- A chain pulley (for each dog) Sizes range from small to quite large, the bigger they are the stronger they are... take your dogs weight and temperament into account. If your dog is likely to take off if they see people or another dog, you will want to invest in strong equipment. Prices range from $5 to $10 each.
- A Carabiner (for each dog) Make sure it will fit through the loop in the pulley. Again quality and strength will range, buy for the dog(s) weight and temperament. Prices range from $1 to $3 each. https://www.lowes.ca/products/view.aspx?family=119...
- A leash (for each dog) as mentioned above we use 15' leashes, you can go longer or shorter depending on the roaming range you desire.
- Collars/harnesses, this will be personal preference but we use their normal collars
- Last but not least... your dog(s)!
We keep all of the supplies (minus the dogs!) in a canvas bag that stays with our camping gear.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Anchors
Your first step when you get to your camp site will be to choose the trees to support your cable run.
- Take into consideration where your tent, dining area, tarps etc will be located. You want to avoid obstructions that will render the cable run ineffective.
- Determine how high you want the wire to be, you don't want to have to duck when you cross the camp site or risk walking into it in the dark. We find that about a foot taller than the tallest person works well, this allows you to adjust with ease if required.
- Make sure the trees are STRONG, don't use a tree that you can push or bend
- Make sure they aren't too close to the path/road or any hills/ledges
Once you have decided on your anchors, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Attach the Cable to Your Anchors
First thing I want to highlight, make sure you loop the pulleys and rope clips onto the wire BEFORE you start wrapping it wound the tree.
- Once you are at the desired height that you would like (we usually stand on a picnic table or the trunk/hitch of our jeep) wrap the cable around the tree and join it back with the rest of the cable.
- Use the rope clips that are already on the wire and feed the end piece into the clip as well. Using your socket, tighten the nuts on the clip as tight as you can. Make sure to pull on it hard to make sure that the cable doesn't slip at all. Make sure it is not so tight that you damage the tree, you always want to leave nature as untouched as possible.
- Repeat the same at the other tree you chose, make sure the cable is tight enough that the pulleys will run across it (don't let it droop in the middle) Again, make sure the pulleys are already looped onto the cable before you do this, they can't go on when its already up.
Step 4: Attaching the Leash/leashes
Simply clip the carabiner to the handle of the leash and to the loop in the pulley, then run the pulley across the cable a few times to make sure that it is smooth with no kinks. Finally attach the leash to your dog and let them explore!
A few things to note:
- If your dog is nervous or has trouble with new things, you may want to test this at home first to get them used to it. Ours didn't even notice the new cable run the first time we used it.
- You should never leave your dogs unattended on the cable run for extended periods of time. They can still get wrapped up around trees, tables etc. and hurt themselves
- With two dogs on the cable they still became intertwined with each other, however this mostly meant they had to explore together (already the norm) or if one dog was sleeping the other couldn't get too far away. This was still MUCH easier than the old stake method, we usually untwisted it once a day if it got too tangled.
- Again as mentioned before, make sure you buy products that cater to your dog specifically. You don't want to use a dollar store leash on a 100lb dog that will run up to people/dogs and put strain on the leash/carabiner and snap it.
As you can see from the photos, our dogs are completely comfortable on the cable run. It was easy to make, its convenient to travel with and it was cheap!
I hope you enjoy making this project!