Making dog walks easier

I want to make a specialty dog leash, but I need your help.

McKinley at seven months

Every day, I take my dog McKinley to Central Park. At just a year and a half, he needs all the exercise he can get. We play fetch together, so I always bring two tennis balls. I also bring treats, bags for his you-know-what and the keys to my apartment.

These items are always in my jacket pockets, so before I go on our walks I try to always run through my checklist to make sure I have everything. It’s this process that leads to some pain points:

  • I forget things all the time. Forgetting garbage bags is, well, not great. Same goes for my apartment keys…
  • I’m always changing jackets based on the weather, which means I’m often transferring items between jackets.
  • Have you ever seen a tennis ball post-fetch? It’s gross, and it’d be lovely to not have slobber and dirt lining every jacket I own.

I think there’s a better way. I think I should be able to keep everything I need on the leash itself — keeping the dirty stuff (tennis balls) separate from the clean stuff (everything else). In an ideal world, I just want to get home, grab the leash, grab McKinley and walk out the door.

This leash doesn’t exist yet, so I want to build it.

Where I’m at

Right now, I have a lot of ideas and a basic prototype to test the concept. I took a standard leash, some carabiners and a couple of eagle creek travel bags and crafted this beauty:

Prototype v0.1

Gorgeous, right? Well, it’s surprisingly effective. In the small bag closer to the handle, I keep treats, bags and keys, and in the larger bag I have two tennis balls. The weight distribution is a bit off — too much weight is too far from the handle — but it delivers on the core concepts. I made a spare set of keys to keep in the bag, my pockets are empty (and clean!) and items are easily accessible during the walk. McKinley is admittedly more interested in the leash, but I think this will go away over time.

I’ve also spoken to two folks who ran successful pet-related Kickstarter campaigns. They’ve helped give me confidence that the idea is worth pursuing, even in the short timeframe I have.

Why I need your help

There are two areas where I need help: concept validation and product design.

I certainly like my idea — it’s been in my head for more than six months now — but it’s totally possible I’m missing some fundamental issues with the concept. I’m looking for people who walk their dogs frequently who want to test this out or give feedback. If any of the above rings true for you, help me make this a reality. How do you carry standard dog fare with you on your walks? If you think you’ve already solved this problem, tell me how you do it! I have a three-question survey (so short!) that you can fill out here.

Do you, frequent dog walker, also happen to know about industrial or product design? Any tips on how something like this should be built or pitfalls to avoid? Send me an email. I come from a computer science background, so this is all new territory for me.

Anything else you want to send my way? Reach out to me on Twitter @sonofdiesel.

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What’s that, you want another adorable picture of McKinley? OK…