When choosing what walking tools and supplies to outfit your new pup with, the variety of options seems endless! Choosing the right dog leash is an important training tool, and something that you’ll use almost every day — which means it’s important for you to find one that matches your needs and preferences.
Choosing The Right Dog Leash or Harness
There are different lengths, widths, styles and types of dog leash available to suit different breeds, temperament of dog and for different uses in everyday life and training. But essentially all dog leashes have the same basic purpose, to keep your dog safe and under control while out in public and as an aid for you to manage your pet during dog training.
Why Do We Need a Dog Leash? What’s the Purpose?
First of all, in many places around the world it’s a legal requirement for owners to have their dog on a leash when out in public. This is for safety reasons as a loose dog can cause accidents or if it was to become aggressive their owner has some form of control.
But there’s many other benefits that come from using a dog leash such as:
- A simple and effective way to control your dog during training sessions.
- Prevent your dog from chasing and scaring other animals, children or perhaps people with a phobia of dogs.
- Prevent your dog from wandering into and going to toilet in inappropriate places.
- Running into the road injuring themselves and perhaps others if they were to cause an accident.
- A means to temporarily tether your dog so they’re safe if you cannot give them your attention for a few minutes.
A leash is an essential tool to use during the early days of puppy-hood to keep them safe and aid you in training. And it’s a convenient tool for control and management of your dog throughout the rest of their lives.
Different Types of Dog Leash
Not taking into account different materials used, lengths, widths, colors and more, dog leashes can be grouped into just a few major types as described below.
Standard Dog Leash
This is the most common type of dog leash used for everyday walking and basic training. They’re usually made from Nylon or leather, although other materials are available such as cotton and rubber but these aren’t as durable and so are far less common.
Nylon and leather are both tough enough to restrain an adult dog, yet lightweight enough for use with a puppy. They measure between 4 and 8 feet in length with 6 foot being the most common. This length allowing plenty of room for freedom of movement while being short enough to afford the handler complete control of their dog if necessary.
Retractable Dog Leashes
Retractable dog leashes allow you to vary the length of leash you allow your dog for freedom of movement. They work much like a measuring tape with a nylon cord that can extend anything from about 4 to 30 feet, with a locking mechanism in a plastic handle that allows you to lock the leash at varying degrees of length. They then automatically collect up any slack in the leash when you release the mechanism, retracting the line into the handle.
Although retractable dog leashes are quite popular there’s a few things to consider before you opt for using one:
- Rope burns
- Possible strangulation due to so much excess line
These dangers aside, the biggest problem we see with retractable dog leashes is they can actually train your dog to pull on the leash!
A retractable leash almost always has tension on it unless the dog is walking toward you. When walking away, they are pulling on the leash to extend it and get rewarded for this pulling by getting to where they want to go. And as we know, anything rewarding your dog learns to repeat!
So when all of a sudden when you want them on a short leash, you call them in, lock the mechanism and ask them to stay close by without pulling.
Adjustable Dog Leashes
Adjustable leashes try to fill the gap (if there is one) between standard leashes and retractable leashes by offering you a leash that you can adjust the length of.
Adjustments are usually available from between 3 and 6 feet by the addition or removal of loops, or extra clips along the length.These can allow you a shorter leash to use for training such as heel work when you want your dog very close, while giving the option for more freedom if out on a walk.
This type of leash is a replacement for the standard leash, very useful for dogs that tend to chew and destroy their leashes. They’re available in various weights and thicknesses so are suitable for all sizes of dogs.
You do need to keep an eye on your dog if using a metal leash. The reason they’re usually bought is also the reason they can be problematic: Although most dogs soon learn a chain leash is indestructible and stop chewing it, some will continue to chew the lead, even to the point of damaging their teeth!
Multiple Dog Leash
This type of leash is used to walk multiple dogs on the one single leash. You have the one handle and a leash to your first dog, with a second leash (and maybe more) coming off from a coupler to allow you to attach another dog.
For well-trained dogs that walk nicely and don’t jump around or pull, these are quite effective and useful for owners with multiple dogs. I’ve found that it is very difficult to use anything more than a double dog leash, but it is possible.
While some might not think of a harness as a type of dog leash, it absolutely is! Many dogs will benefit from using a harness instead of a traditional style dog leash because it gives the owner a firmer amount of control over a dog that needs guidance.
On top of that, dog harnesses are thought to be more comfortable for dogs and more easy for them to adjust to, making them a win-win for many owners. A no-pull harness is one of the most popular items for owners who have big dogs while like to pull.
Harness-type leashes come in back clip harnesses and front clip harnesses. They each have their benefits, but generally speaking, back clip harnesses are better for well-trained dogs, and front clip harnesses are better for dogs who may jump or pull. For aggressive dogs, you will want to pair a harness with a head halter.
Choosing The Right Width
To most people the width of a leash may not seem important, but it really can be.If your dog is a chewer, or strong and a puller, the last thing you want is them to snap through the leash. And this could and does happen, especially with thinner leashes. So get a leash that’s wide enough to be strong enough for your dog.
On the flip side of this, if you have a little dog or young and small puppy, you don’t want a very wide leash as they’re often heavy and a bit restricting for them.
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