Dezeen Magazine

Seatbelts inform Steady walking aid for elderly dogs

A trio of design students from Hongik University in Seoul has developed a walking aid for dogs that uses a mechanism similar to a car seatbelt to provide support while allowing a good range of movement.

Steady was designed as a non-motorised support system for elderly dogs that are susceptible to mobility issues due to disc problems, arthritis and bone dislocation.

Person holding yellow walking aid for dogs
Steady is a walking aid for dogs

Based on their own experiences of living with and assisting senior dogs, Hongik University students Jungmin Park and Chaewon Lee set out to create a walking aid that prioritises autonomy, flexibility and adaptability.

They teamed up with fashion design student Seungha Baek and experts from the University of Zurich's faculty of veterinary medicine to develop a solution that ensures a secure and comfortable experience for the animals.

Dog in yellow Steady walking aid
The device uses a seatbelt-style strap

Based on their research, the designers identified limitations with existing products that can prevent the dogs from behaving normally during their daily walks.

"We discovered pain points where dogs using wheelchairs or other assistive devices couldn't mark freely or smell scents along the roadside," Lee told Dezeen.

"Therefore, we aimed to design a structure that utilises the structure of seat belts to provide some degree of freedom but also firm support in the event of impact."

The designers sought a solution that could work on different terrains to protect the animals from stumbling or tipping over when they encounter an obstacle.

They took inspiration from the way seatbelts are manufactured to allow some freedom of movement during use while holding the body firmly in place if an impact occurs.

Steady's vertically descending straps attach to a harness that can be used alongside joint-protective clothing. The wide harness supports the dog's belly from behind, creating a free area below to allow for normal walking.

Person unfolding yellow Steady walking aid for dogs
The walking aid can be adjusted to fit small to medium-sized dogs

The straps unravel and retract like a seatbelt so they can constantly move with the animal. In case of a sudden stop, an integrated locking mechanism tightens and holds the dog securely upright.

The straps are attached to a two-wheeled walker that rolls along behind the dog and incorporates a foot brake so both pet and owner can safely pause at any time.

A knob on one side of the stem releases a telescopic slider so the device can adjust to fit small to medium-sized dogs. The handle can be folded to make the product easier to store.

Annotated graphic of dog in a mobility aid
A harness supports the dog's belly from behind

Steady also incorporates sensors that measure and analyse the dog's walking data. Users can view this information on an app designed to help detect inconspicuous signs of joint issues in older animals.

According to Lee, the designers hope to one day bring the product to market "and contribute to improving the lives of senior dogs." In the meantime, they have been invited to participate in a support programme for aspiring entrepreneurs studying at Korean universities.

Other designs for canines that have recently been featured on Dezeen include a flat-pack kennel by architecture studio Foster + Partners and a dog-friendly private members' club in London.