As a human who spends the majority of her life around dogs and all things canine, I’ve experienced my fair share of lost keys, slipped harnesses, and dropped leashes.
The good news?
There’s a life-changing gadget no dog owner, dog lover, dog walker, or dog enthusiast should be without, and it’s called a carabiner.
That’s right! These handy little clips are not only for daring rock climbers, adventurous backpackers, and brave security guards. Carabiners are also for dog people.
But aside from the obvious (here’s looking at you, makeshift keyring) how can dog people use carabiners in a way that will totally transform their lives?
That’s what we’re here to talk about. I’m about to give you all my secrets as a trainer and pet care specialist and show you how this lightweight, totally inexpensive little gadget will have you feeling like the Macgyver of the canine kingdom.
Don’t believe me? Then keep reading!
1. Use A Carabiner To Make A Quick and Easy Dog Seat Belt.
Did you know that in the state of California it’s illegal to drive with an unsecured dog in the car? That means a dog who is not essentially buckled in, secured in a crate, or otherwise hanging out loose could result in you getting a ticket.
Worse, it could result in a devastating injury or even the death of your dog should you have a car accident.
Even minor car accidents can lead to death or serious injury of your fur baby if he isn’t safely secured in the car, which is all the more reason to go ahead and invest in some doggy car seats or canine seat belts.
But if you don’t want to break the bank, I have a little secret for you — carabiners work just as well to safely secure your dog in the car!
A high-quality carabiner can work with your dog’s everyday leash and harness to make a totally safe and practical doggy seatbelt for those long drives to the countryside.
You can use a carabiner to safely secure your pup in the car a few different ways, but most ways do require your dog to be in a harness of some kind.
Using a carabiner on your dog’s standard leash and collar could result in just as serious of an injury if you are in an accident.
So, let’s assume you have your dog in a good dog harness and you’re ready to hit the road for a full-on doggy road trip.
One of my favorite ways to secure my dogs in the car is by connecting their leashes to their back clip harnesses, looping the leash through the carabiner, and connecting the carabiner to either the backseat headrest or the car seat apparatus built standard in most modern vehicles.
Carabiners make traveling in the car safer and easier for everyone.
I actually do have a few dog seat belts that were ordered off of Amazon. However, these seat belts are specifically designed to clip around the headrests in the backseat of a car.
Well, unfortunately, I don’t have headrests in the back of my car. I do have the car seat apparatus, though.
Instead of sending the seatbelts back, I chose to use some of my higher-quality carabiners to hook through the loops of the doggy seatbelts and attach them to the car seat apparatus.
It works beautifully and helps keep my dogs secure and safe in the backseat, as you can see in the photo above.
2. Use a Carabiner to Attach Your Dog’s Harness to His Collar for Extra Safety.
Safety first! This is yet another reason why carabiners are so necessary for anyone living their best life with a dog.
Along with making your own doggy seatbelt, you can also use a carabiner for those dogs who tend to think of themselves as furry Houdinis.
I work with a few Dachshunds and I must admit that their long, slender bodies fit poorly in many harnesses. For extra safety, I like to use a standard carabiner, like the one pictured below, to connect the harness to the dog’s collar.
This is a standard carabiner and is strong enough to hold your dog’s gear in place while being lightweight enough and small enough to not bug your dog during walks.
This way, if there ever is an escape attempt made my one of my sausage-shaped friends, I have a backup connection.
This means that while they may slip their harness, they won’t be able to slip their collar, and thus I will never have to chase a dog through the park again.
I also like to use this reinforcing method with larger, more reactive dogs or dogs who have not been properly socialized as an extra precaution when walking or hiking.
3. Use A Carabiner to Keep All Dog-Walking Essentials Handy.
If you’re going on a long walk, hike, or adventure with your pup, you’ll want to keep a few things handy.
I like to carry hand sanitizer and poop bags with me whenever I’m out and about with my four-legged friends, but I don’t always like to wear a fanny pack or backpack.
Enter the carabiner!
Keep awkward but essential loose items on you during walks with a simple carabiner!
Just attach a carabiner to the end of your dog’s leash and keep poop bags and sanitizer, mase, and even car keys handy for a quick and easy walk, run or jog.
4. A Carabiner Will Help You Stay Organized and Keep Track of Lose Keys.
So, I know I already called out the key ring thing, but bear with me.
What I’m about to tell you is slightly different than the standard keys on a key ring, slipped onto a carabiner thing, and it’s definitely something you should know about because this has honestly changed my life.
As a trainer and pet care specialist and full-time dog walker, I am constantly going in and out of people’s homes and because of this, I am in charge of a lot of loose keys.
So, if you are a dog walker, dog sitter, pet care expert, trainer, etc, and need a quick and easy way to organize loose keys for your clients or even for yourself, then I would highly recommend investing in a smaller carabiner that fits loose keys without a key ring.
Never lose your house key again after a walk or hike with your dog.
Carabiners come in several different sizes depending on your needs. The photo above shows three different sizes of carabiners and these are the sizes I tend to use the most.
For loose keys, I use the smallest of the carabiners, and then I’ll usually connect them to the larger carabiners for safekeeping.
This little life hack has made my days so much easier and less stressful. I also save time because I’m not constantly digging through my bag looking for loose keys.
Pro-tip. You’re welcome.
5. Use A Sturdy Carabiner To Make Your Own Tandem Dog Leash.
This is one of my absolute favorite carabiner life hacks and I’m so excited to share it with you.
I’m often in charge of walking several dogs at once and it’s easy to get the leashes tangled or even accidentally drop a leash in the mess of rope and nylon.
However, this can prove dangerous when you’re out and about in open wilderness or you are dealing with dogs who are reactive or highly anxious.
Here I am walking multiple dogs at once more safely using my carabiner.
I want to make sure my dogs are safe and that I have them connected to me at all times. For this reason, I love using my largest and sturdiest carabiner for walks involving two or more dogs.
In the photo above, I have three dogs on what feels like one leash, thanks to my carabiner. I have attached all three leashes together using the carabiner and I am also still able to keep my loose doggy essentials attached and at hand as well.
6. Keep A Carabiner Handy For Leash Modifications on the Spot.
Sometimes your dog’s leash is the perfect length, and other times you wish it was a little bit shorter.
If your dog is reactive, like some of the pups I work with, then this is perhaps one of the best life hacks I can give you for when you’re out and about with your pooch.
Reactive dogs often suffer from leash anxiety and it helps to keep your dog on a close leash and next to you to help reassure him that you are there, you are the leader of the walk, and you will keep him safe.
When dogs don’t feel like they have to protect you, they are less inclined to react aggressively to things they perceive as a threat.
I often use carabiners to modify or shorten leashes, especially during leash training.
You can use a carabiner to easily shorten your dog’s leash, as I have done in the photo above.
There are many ways to do this, but the way I like best, (and the way that feels safest to me) is to fold the leash in half and loop the carabiner through the leash’s handle and the leashes bottom clip. Then I attach the carabiner to the harness clip itself.
This shortens the dog’s leash by half and allows you better control on your anxious dog or get a better handle on the pup who is working on learning his good leash manners.
7. Attach Your Dog’s Leash to A Fence or Pole or Anything Really Using A Sturdy Carabiner With A Locking Mechanism.
The safest carabiner for attaching your dog’s leash to anything at all will be a carabiner that is for climbing, and one that has a locking device, as shown in purple above.
There have likely been times when you’ve been out and about with your dog and needed to use both hands for something other than holding onto your dog’s leash.
Whether your camping, at a picnic, or at a restaurant, if you bring your pup along and want to sit and relax, you’ll need a way to secure him to something nearby to keep him safe.
When using a carabiner to secure your dog to a fence, or pole, or anything for that matter, I suggest a carabiner of climbing quality that comes complete with a locking mechanism for extra safety.
8. Use A Carabiner To Connect Your Dog’s Leash To Your Waist, Belt Loop, or Backpack for Hands-Free Walking.
Along with using a carabiner to attach your dog to something sturdy in his surroundings, you can also use a carabiner to attach your dog to you.
Loop your dog’s leash around your waist and secure it with a sturdy carabiner to keep him with you during jogs, or hook your dog’s leash to your backpack or belt loop for a hands-free stroll or run.
Again, I suggest using a carabiner with a safety latch and automatic lock so your dog is extra secure no matter what.
If you aren’t sure what that a carabiner of this description is supposed to look like, you can take a look at the video below, which shows the exact type of carabiner I’m talking about.
9. Use a Carabiner to Carry Collapsible Water Bowls, Water Bottles, And Treats for Your Pup.
This is a great trick for especially warm days or days you are working on training exercises with your pup and need to carry some yummy training treats.
Since water bottles and collapsible water bowls are sometimes awkwardly shaped, a carabiner makes connecting and keeping these things accessible much easier and less cumbersome.
Lightweight carabiners are perfect for holding collapsible water bowls and other doggy accessories.
For water bowls, water bottles, and treat pouches, I like to use the smaller carabiners, as you can see in the photo above.
10. For Night Walkers, Use A Carabiner to Clip a Blinking Light or Flashlight To your Dog’s Leash.
Reflective vests and blinking collars are great, but they can also be pricey. Plus, some dogs hate wearing clothing and don’t feel comfortable in vests.
If you want a quick, easy, and inexpensive solution to safe night walking, then use your carabiner to hook your flashlight or blinker to your dog’s leash.
This will give you a hands-free way to walk safely at night. It also allows for a better lit path and ensures that other nighttime dog walkers are able to see you and your dog coming.
Carabiner’s come in different sizes and even different shapes, making it easy to find the right one to fit your unique dog accessory.
As we’ve gone over, carabiners come in several different sizes, so you can pick the size that works best for you depending on the size of your gear.
11. Use A Carabiner to Reinforce Your Dog’s Crate.
Some dogs are just escape artists. A carabiner is a wonderful solution for the dog who not only slips their leash or harness but also may find it easy to push their way out of their crate.
Most standard wire dog crates, like the one shown below and which is available on Amazon, are sturdy, but that doesn’t stop the determined dog who suffers from anxiety from pushing his way out.
[Amazon box=”B01DLS2EX8” style=”light” title=”Wire Dog Crate” template=”widget”]
Sometimes the latch in the middle of the wire door is not strong enough to keep an anxious dog who has all day home alone to work at it inside.
A good carabiner will help keep him (and your house) safe from destructive behavior when crated.
I use my standard carabiner to keep my dogs safe in their crates by reinforcing the door. If the latch is in the center, I will use the carabiner to reinforce the bottom of the door so the dog can’t push his way out.
Of course, properly crate training your dog will help with dogs who tend to try and escape their crates when you are not home.
Remember, crate training is wonderful for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety and crating can even help alleviate stress in your dog as well as reduce or eliminate destructive behaviors.
12. Keep Your Dog’s First Aid Kit and Other Safety Essentials Handy and On You During Outings With A Carabiner.
I work with dogs professionally, so it’s standard for me to carry around my doggy first aid kit at all times.
While not every pet parent is this manic, (let’s face it, I am paranoid about doggy safety and pet preparedness), it isn’t a bad idea to keep your dog’s first aid kit with you during long hikes or camping trips.
Keep your pet’s first aid kit on hand at all times with a carabiner.
Traveling with a dog first aid kit and other dog gear doesn’t have to be cumbersome or take up space in your pack.
Just hook the first aid kit to a carabiner and hook that carabiner to your backpack, belt loop, or even your dog’s leash and you’re good to go!
How Else Can A Carabiner Change Your Life?
The above are twelve of my most favorite uses for carabiners in the dog world, but these nifty little gadgets are useful for just about anything you can imagine.
For more ideas on how you can use carabiners in your day to day life with your dog, take a look at the video below.
And if you have more tips on how we dog parents can use carabiners or if you know of any other cool dog gadgets we should invest in, don’t be stingy. Share your doggy life hacks in the comment section below!
Madison Guthrie (also known as Sonny Mackenzi) is a pet care specialist and positive-reinforcement trainer who works most closely with anxious and reactive dogs. Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Madison developed a love for animals at an early age and spent most of her childhood outdoors rescuing stray pets and helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife. Along with animals, Madison also developed a love for writing and music. Over the past five years, she has worked to use her passions to help the pets and pet parents in her community build stronger bonds and live happier, healthier lives together. Currently, Madison lives in South Pasadena, California where she owns and operates Miss Madison LLC, a marketing company that focuses on helping privately owned veterinary establishments and pet care companies grow and thrive. She also works as a dog trainer at My Dog Spot, which is an award-winning pet care and training establishment in Pasadena, California.