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a photo of a small dog biting white rope

How To Make A Dog Harness Out Of Rope

Why would anyone need to make a harness out of rope? Well, one good reason is that they don’t have anything else lying around or a legitimate harness to use. If your regular harness breaks suddenly or if you just feel only a rope is strong enough for your pooch, it’s a good idea to learn how to design one quickly when the situation calls for it.

Everything You Need To Know About DIY Dog Rope Harnesses

How to Make a Rope Harness

  • The first step is to find a rope that can adequately hold your dog. This depends on the size and strength of your pooch. Ropes used can range from a regular rope to a climber’s rope.
  • Measuring your dog’s body will allow you to have a more accurate idea of the length of rope needed. Measure your dog’s torso and his neck.
  • Once you have those measurements, cut the rope at the appropriate length for the torso and secure it around your dog with a double overhand knot.
  • The size should be quite snug, but loose enough for you to slip one or two fingers between.
  • Wrap another piece of rope around your dog’s neck. Again, cut the rope at the appropriate length and secure it with the same type of knot.
  • Once you have two loops on your dog (one on the neck and one on the torso), the next thing to do is to measure the distance between the two loops. Cut a piece of rope off at the appropriate length and tie each end to a loop by securing it with an overhand knot.
  • The next step is to clip the leash (or another piece of rope with a carabiner clip) to the length of rope that runs down your dog’s back.

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Different Types of DIY Rope Harnesses

After you have mastered the above design, also known to resemble the half hitch harness, you can look into these other options.

Traffic Handle

This option is used to keep your dog as close to you as possible. In high traffic areas, this gives you more control over your pooch.

This involves clipping the carabiner to the rope collar and tying a new handle loop in the center of the rope. Or you can just clip it to the same rope that runs along your dog’s back. We don’t suggest clipping it on the collar due to choking hazards.

Hands-Free Leash

This type is great when you need both your hands. It’s useful when you’re hiking and running with your dog. 

For this option, simply tie the leash around your own torso. Find the most comfortable fit and use an overhand knot to create a small loop to secure another carabiner. This way you will be able to walk your dog without sacrificing the use of your hands.

Walker Harness

Similar to what you see on guide dogs, the walker harness keeps your dog in line. 

You can create this harness by clipping another carabiner to the handle of the leash and securing it on the piece of rope on your dog’s back. This gives you even more control over your pooch.

Off-Leash Harness

This style is more of a way to store the leash while your dog is off-lead.

Create a loop by clipping the carabiner clip to the leash handle and wearing it crossbody for easy access until you need to grab your dog again. You might also want to visit our guide on making your own dog harnesses that are not necessarily out of rope.

Importance of the Proper Measurements

We have an entire article on how to properly measure and fit your dog to a harness. Give it a read too if you need a hand in measuring your dog.

We’re going to remind you again on how important it is to find the proper fit when measuring your dog.

Without the proper measurements, you might not be able to benefit from all the perks of having the leash, the biggest one being safety.

A leash is a helpful tool that could quickly turn into a safety hazard if the sizing is off. It may present your dog with plenty of opportunities to escape during the walk or it may sit too tightly and snag your dog’s fur and irritate his skin.

So when you are making a rope leash for your dog, try using the rope itself to measure the circumference of your dog’s neck and torso.

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Collar or Harness?

The basic half hitch harness design we walked you through consists of two loops. Many of the subsequent styles we presented only need to be connected via the collar loop. However, we suggest you tweak it a little bit and only clip the leash to the piece of rope connecting the two separate loops.

As we have said many times before, we believe a collar should only be used for identification purposes or alongside the harness.

A harness is better for more active dogs and those who require a lot of frequent walks. Harnesses don’t strangle and choke your dog either, for those who have particularly rambunctious fur babies.

Dogs that need to be trained out of unwanted behaviors during walks would also benefit more from a harness. We have compiled the 7 greatest anti-pull dog harnesses for your benefit.

If you have a small dog that only wanders around your yard and doesn’t require much exercise, then a collar would suffice. 

A harness also allows for more control of your dog, so if an emergency arises, you can quickly step in and prevent him from any harm.


If you use a dog collar alongside the harness, it will give you more options in emergency situations and also keep the harness more stable. Making your own harness allows you to accommodate any special needs your dog may have by customizing the design and altering the size. We must remind you once again that using strong and sturdy ropes and heavy-duty carabiner clips will add even more safety. Make sure every knot you tie is secured tightly, and be sure to measure your dog correctly for the best fit.