Pet Tips

Dog leashes and dog collars – Pet tip 106

Dog leashes come in a variety of shapes and styles and not all leashes (AKA leads) are created equally. Given that a leash is going to be one of the primary tools that are used on your dog’s daily walks, it’s important to know the differences between good and better leashes. At the end of the day we want our dog and ourselves to have an enjoyable walk.

In terms of your dog’s daily walk one of the more common leash styles that you see people using is the retractable or extendable leash and this is generally a BAD idea. These leashes are the ones that have a rigid plastic exterior and the actual leash is normally made of nylon. In unlocked mode, as the dog pulls, the slack gets looser and as the dog stays still and you approach the dog the slack retracts back into the case. These leashes aren’t great for everyday walks because they offer very little control over your dog especially if your dog is a puller. There is usually some tension on the dog’s collar via the leash due to the nature of its design so it often ‘teaches’ a dog to pull. Many trainers counsel against using this type of lead on walks as well because it is difficult to ‘correct’ a dog that is pulling you or gets distracted easily and tries to dart off. For small dogs, this type of leash has been known to harm them if the owner lets go of the heavy plastic handle by accident and it whizzes into the dog’s head or face. That said, this type of leash IS probably good for exercising an already trained larger dog that you want to give some leeway to.

For the daily walking of an untrained dog or even a trained dog, you are far better off using a shorter leash and a five to six foot leash is pretty standard. The most common types of leashes are made of leather or nylon and should be appropriate for the size of your dog. A really small dog will probably need a leash width of about 3/4 an inch. A medium sized dog of around 45 pounds will need a leash width of 1 inch. A large or really strong dog can also have a leash width of 1 inch but the leash should be 2 ply for durability and security. If we want to talk about human comfort, really narrow leashes of ½ an inch or less (they look like cat leashes) will often cut into your hand if the dog pulls so avoid leashes of less than ½ inch. There are other types of leashes and harnesses that are great for controlling dogs that really pull and you should see a qualified trainer if you are having pulling problems with your dog. Once your dog is really well trained however, and knows how to heel (not pull by walking at YOUR speed) then you can use pretty much any leash you like, though the nylon or leather ones will still be the most suitable for everyday walks.

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