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Ok so we've a Shetland Sheepdog, roughly 6kg for his max weight, and he has a pretty decent harness (as in you can pick him up from it and it doesn't hurt him, choke him etc) but he only has a decent short lead. It's thick, ropey like climbing rope, and has a massive clasp that can support his weight easily... but it's about 1m long.

His long line is a thin extender lead, like 5mm diameter max, but 5m in length and out in more adventurous areas, walking along cliff edges etc (which we do rather often) it just looks feeble... It's not uncommon for the fenced off paths to collapse underfoot whilst walking in Weymouth for example... We once saw the 'stay left of this sign' sign 6ft below the current path... I'm wondering if it would be possible make him a thicker long line with a decent clasp?

If I were to want to attach a clasp to a climbing rope for example what knot would work? Or would something like a lunge line work, could a lunge line withstand friction against rocks like a climbing rope (to some degree)?

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I wouldn't use climbing rope, anyone that's ever caught a climbing rope that's running out will tell you it's not pleasant. It burns! Very painful.

A lunge line would be much better. It should easily cope with the demands of rocks, etc. Climbing ropes are engineered to catch a falling human. Dogs are obviously much lighter and will typically not be having dynamic falls. So though I wouldn't climb on a lunge line it should be more than strong enough for a dog lead, even over rough terrain with potential falls.

If you were nervous you could always attach two leads. So that you have a back up should one fail. Or even two attachments. Lots of leads actually come with two ends so that you can have a backup should the clip fail.

If anything is going to fail it's the clip. So get a lead with a good clip robust clip and/or back it up.

You can also get specific dog long leads. We're actually considering getting one for our dogs in the same situation. this also means you don't need any fancy knots, etc.

If you did want to learn a knot for this, a figure of eight is the one you want.

  • Yeah I really hadn't thought of rope burn! I know lunge lines can take the pull (half a tonne of horse compared to a 6kg dog...!) Thanks great advice - especially with learning a knot just in case! :) – Aravona Dec 10 '15 at 9:08
  • I'd actually suggest that a lunge line will take the rocks better than a climbing rope. Climbing rope is engineered to take the most force at the lowest weight (because pulling on 20M or rope is heavy). Lunge lines are much thicker and will take abrasion much better – user2766 Dec 10 '15 at 9:13
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I'm wondering if it would be possible make him a thicker long line with a decent clasp?

For the clasp, any climbing karabiner will be strong enough to hang a car off; I'd suggest a screwgate to avoid accidental un-clipping. Other clips and clasps may be perfectly fine too, these are just the ones I'm familiar with and have around the house!

If I were to want to attach a clasp to a climbing rope for example what knot would work?

For the knot, the figure of eight on a bight (as linked in Liam's answer) is perfect for this.

Or would something like a lunge line work

If longe lines are static, which it sounds like they are, then arresting your dog from free fall could be dangerous. This is only an issue if there's slack line out when the dog falls: the change from falling to hanging stationary, when caught by a line with no stretch, is a huge deceleration.

This is the reason climbing ropes are stretchy, so that the deceleration when arresting a fall is spread out, rather than creating a sudden shock.

could a lunge line withstand friction against rocks like a climbing rope (to some degree)?

Climbing ropes have a woven outer sheath designed to protect the core fibres from abrasion. Single-layer ropes and webbing are probably more vulnerable to cutting on sharp rocks, especially under load. Honestly sudden shock loading over a sharp edge is problematic for any rope, but I'd be surprised if a 6Kg dog could cut a climbing rope over anything but a very sharp knife.


I can't find any suggestion that dynamic rope or cord suitable for arresting a fall is made to non-human specs, and a human-weight-rated one will be overkill.

You could possibly buy a single half-rope (these are usually used in pairs, and each half of the pair is relatively thin & light although still full strength).

The only alternative is to use a static cord (such as abseiling or rigging cord, or a longe line if you're happy with the abrasion and cutting resistance) with some kind of shock absorber. This seems like a lot of work for a dog lead, though.

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Being a sailor rather than a rock climber, my familiarity is more with nylon 3 strand twisted ropes.

With nylon twisted ropes, you can make ropes of any length without needing special splicing tools like you need for cored ropes like those used in climbing.

I would buy 3/8 inch deck and anchor line, cut your favorite clasp off your preferred leash, and eye-splice the clasp into the new rope using a thimble (metal insert that protects the eye from wearing). Cut the length of the rope to about 3 ft longer than you wish. And tie a larger eye splice into the other end for your hand.

To learn how to tie various knots visit http://animatedknots.com

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