How To: Make a Modern Dip-Dyed Rope Dog Leash

DIY - how to make a dog leash

Colorful rope dog leads have been all the rage in the pet accessories world lately -- and I am obsessed! But, with prices ranging anywhere from $70 to over $150, they're a little outside most people's "dog stuff" budgets. If you'd still like to get your paws on a stylish leash for your pooch (in whatever color your heart desires) without breaking the bank, give this easy DIY rope leash project a whirl! You'll learn how to make a dog leash that perfectly fits your fido's taste (and yours!). 

I am head-over-heels for the rope leash look. As a visual reference, here are a few awesome shops and brands that make them.

Rope Dog Leash Options to Buy

Rope dog leash

1. Mungo & Maud 2. RESQ/CO 3. Found 4. Grey Paw (at $35, definitely the most affordable option)

Many of these use traditional nautical splicing and whipping techniques, but today we're going to employ a bit of a shortcut! (If you want to learn how to splice rope, there are tons of video tutorials on YouTube, FYI.) So, are you ready to make your own rope dog leash? Awesome. Pawesome. Here's what you'll need!


Materials for DIY Rope Dog Leash Project

Rope dog leash materials



  • 2 to 2 1/4 yards 3/8" thick cotton rope
  • Fabric Dye
  • (2) Rope Clamps
  • (1) Snap Hook
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Large Cooking Pot

The rope clamps and snap hook can be found in the rope section of your local hardware store. Finding 100% cotton rope can be a little tricky, though. I ended up finding the braided style at JoAnn's in the trim section. You can order the 3-strand style from Knot & Rope Supply for pretty cheap. (I happened to have some on hand prior to this project.)


How to make a dog leash

1. Determine about how long you want your leash to be (anywhere from 4-6 feet is pretty standard) and cut it accordingly. Be sure to tape or tie off the ends so your rope doesn't unravel.

2. Soak your rope in some warm water. Meanwhile, prepare your dye according to the instructions on the bottle. You won't need very much! A bottle of RIT Liquid Dye will go a long, long way.

3. Now for the fun part! For an ombré/gradient/dip-dyed effect, quickly dip and remove your rope from the dye. Then, re-dip at different heights/levels, until you're happy with the gradation. Want your rope all one color? Submerge the whole rope in the dye, stirring constantly, until the desired color is reached.

Note: I made two versions of this leash using different kinds of rope and found that the 3-strand variety creates a smoother, more subtle ombré effect.

4. Remove your rope and hang it up (outside or in the garage), dark end at the top, to allow the dye to creep down the rope. You can help it along by squeezing the excess dye/water down the length of the rope.

5. Once you're happy with the way the gradient is looking, rinse the rope in cold water until the water runs clear -- or -- use some RIT Dye Fixative before you rinse out the rope if you want to super-seal the color.

6. Allow the rope to dry thoroughly. This may take up to 24 hours.

7. Now that your rope is dry, it's time to attach the clamps and snap hook. Decide which end you want to place the hook. Feed the end of the rope through the ring then fold the rope over, creating a small loop.

8. Place the clamp on a flat surface with the prongs facing up. Lay the base of the rope loop inside the clamp, between the prongs. With a hammer or rubber mallet, hammer all four prongs securely over the rope.

9. On the other end, fold the rope over to create a 6-7" loop (bigger or smaller depending on how big your hands are and what feels comfortable to you). Then, repeat step 8.

Now, after you've attached the rope clamps, you could call it a day -- you have a perfectly functional leash at this point. (Heck, you could skip the dyeing altogether and just attach the clamps and snap hook and -- BAM -- you'd have a leash.) If you really want to take this project into über-stylish territory, though, you'll want to add some finishing touches and cover those ugly clamps up!

There are multiple ways to cover the clamps: you could wrap them in twine/yarn/string/leather cording/etc. etc. I chose to use up some leftover leather (from this project) and create a sleeve with some colorful stitching. If you'd like to do the same, read on!


Materials for Creating a Leather Clamp Cover:


  • Leather
  • Craft Knife
  • Embroidery Floss
  • #18 Darning Needle
  • Ruler
  • Hammer
  • Self-Healing Cutting Mat

Rope Dog Leash: How to Make a Leather Clamp Cover

1. Cut a strip of leather about 2.25" wide, or wide enough to cover the length of the clamp.

2. From this strip, cut two pieces of leather, both about 2.5" long or long enough to wrap around the clamp.

3. Soak one of the leather pieces in warm water until it becomes soft and malleable. Stretch it out a bit then pat dry.

4. Fold the leather over. Take a hammer and your darning needle and create some small stitch guides/holes anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart. You only need a few light taps from the hammer, don't go crazy.

5. Lay the leather on a flat surface, then position and place the clamp on top. Cut a length of embroidery floss and tie a knot at the end. Anchor the floss to the rope itself by looping and tying the thread a few times.

6. Stitch the two ends of the leather together with a simple whip stitch, pulling tightly. When you reach the end, anchor the floss to the rope as before. Cut the thread.

7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other clamp. Allow the leather to dry out completely (it'll tighten up around the clamp as it dries) and you're done!

Now for some pretty, pretty pictures!

And, of course, obligatory photos of my dogs:

Happy leash making!




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Elizabeth on Feb 17, 2016:

If I want an adjustable leash with O-rings, do you have any idea how I might add them in along the length of the leash? I've seen them on the expensive ombre leashes online, but I don't understand how they could have gotten the o rings through the rope.

Jackie Brosnihan on Jan 30, 2016:

Have you thought about or tried splitting apart a 3 strand twisted cotton rope and dying each strand a different color and then retwisting the rope strands back together? I'm thinking of trying to do since I can't find 3/4" multicolored rope anywhere except China for $1000. Nobody in the US makes it at all... only thinner rope.

Meghan on May 15, 2015:

Hello! I would really like to know how to make it with rapping around the twine or string like you said, could you show me how? Email is meghanpilewski@hotmail.com. Thanks so much!

Shai on Oct 24, 2013:

Kidderton - I know this is probably irrelevent now, but you could use wax to seal the ends.

Stephanie H. on Sep 12, 2013:

I have been looking for a tutorial just like this one for not only my dogs, but for our local shelter pups -- THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!  You made it so easy to follow!

Kim Reynolds on Aug 26, 2013:

Hi I would like to feature your dog leash project. Can you please contact me? Thanks! Kim

Stef on Jun 28, 2013:

Hi there!

This tutorial is just what I've been looking for, thanks for sharing!

I have started to make mine (rope is in a tangerine dye bath now!) and wanted to let people know if they are having trouble finding cotton rope, I  found mine marked as 'piping cord' (even though it's super thick) in the haberdashery section of Spotlight (in Aus). 

I'll post again when I'm finished!

Thanks again, 


CapreeK on Jun 24, 2013:

Thanks BlueJeannes!

Kidderton - Thank you! So glad you like the tutorial! As for the rope ends, you could use tape or tightly wrap and tie some thread around the ends before hammering down the clamps. Hope that helps! Good luck! :)

bluejeannes on Jun 24, 2013:

Great tutorial! Kidderton, you could cover the ends with the runny kind of SuperGlue and let it dry. It would then be moisture resistant.

Kidderton on Jun 22, 2013:

Awesome tutorial!!  I'm definitely going to try this one out tomorrow!

How did you seal up the frayed end of the rope (difference between the picture in step 6 to step 7). Since cotton doesn't melt, just wondering how I might deal with this in case I don't cover up the clamps with leather :)


CapreeK on Jun 21, 2013:

@bruno Do it, do it! Every home needs a dog. ;)

bruno on Jun 20, 2013:

This makes me want to get a dog, just so I can make this leash!

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