If you’re anything like me, the first time you walked into a pet store to buy a leash, your head started spinning a little from the variety of choices available. There are hundreds of different colors, lengths, materials, and fasteners. All I knew is what I thought looked good.
I’m not going to describe every type or brand of leash here, but I will talk briefly about the pros and cons of 5 of the different leash types.
- The 4-6ft. Leather or Fabric Leash
- The Training Leash
- The Chain
- The Retractable Leash
- The Long Line Leash
The most commonly used leash I tend to see is the 4-6 ft. leash. They come in many varieties of colors and materials. This is the leash I bought for my first three dogs. They are very durable and have a clip on the end that clips directly to your dog’s collar. This is a great leash for everyday neighborhood walks. It is very durable and traditionally lasts the lifetime of an average canine. Unless, of course, your dog enjoys chewing on it, then it may only last a few hours. This type of leash can be used during most training activities. Some people do very well training with this leash while others prefer an actual training leash. A disadvantage of the 4-6 ft. leash is that it will limit the roaming area of your dog when in large open areas. Your dog may get frustrated and pull more. Also, this leash does not prevent your dog from pulling in general. Dogs have very strong necks. Many breeds were bred specifically to have strong necks to pull. Since the collar sits low on the neck, the pulling of the leash doesn’t really hurt or affect your dog. You may have seen someone leaning back with almost all of their body weight trying to hold back their 100 lb. friend who just wanted to smell the next bush. I know I have seen that plenty. In fact, that was me with my first dog.
Next is the training leash. This is the leash I should have bought first. This is the leash I would recommend for any dog that is in training. And since most dogs are always in training, it’s good to always have a training leash. The training leash is like the leash you see at the vet’s office. Just a little loop at the end of a rope that tightens as you pull, or your dog pulls. They may be made out of nylon, fabric, or a rope material. These are fantastic for, you guessed it, training! This leash is meant to be worn high up around the dog’s neck, right behind the ears. There are sensitive spots behind the ears that cause discomfort to a dog if pressure is applied to these spots. The training leash sits right over these sensitive areas, and when your dog pulls on the leash, it will cause your dog discomfort. Your dog will quickly learn to not do things that cause the leash to tighten to avoid discomfort. You can use this leash in many areas of training such as sitting, walking without pulling, and heeling to name a few. Once your dog knows these commands, you can then use other types of leashes easier.
The chain leash is the most durable leash. If your dog has a tendency to chew on his or her leash, then the chain leash might be the leash for you. The chain leash comes in both the clip-on style and the loop style like the training leash. The clip on style has most of the same benefits and disadvantages as the 4-6 ft. leash. The chain leash that loops is a little less effective than the training leash because the chain tends to loosen easier and not stay up behind the ears. When a chain leash is down around a dog’s neck and throat, the dog can choke easier and may actually cause injury to the dog’s throat. In addition, the thick chains can also be heavy to use for both the dog and owner.
Retractable leashes are great for walking in parks and other open areas where you allow your dog to roam and explore further away from you. This is fine as long as you are still keeping an eye on your dog and making sure he or she is not roaming into danger. Retractable leashes are not good for training your dog not to pull on the leash. They are also not ideal for walking in crowded areas with a lot of other people or other dogs. Sometimes the long leash may be difficult to handle. It can get wrapped around trees, bushes, people, or other animals. Sometimes the line can get wrapped around your fingers or a part of your pet’s body and cause injury. Retractable leashes can be unsafe during play and when tethering because it can get wrapped around your pet and may cause injury or even death. Also, do not use retractable leashes on trails where there may be runners and/or bikers; serious injuries may occur around people who are moving quickly because they may not see the line at fast pace speeds.
Long line leashes may be anywhere from 10-30 ft. in length. These are often used when teaching your dog the “come” command. This is a good leash for walks in parks and other open areas where your dog can explore further away from you. Long leashes are also good to use when dogs are learning to track or scent. They can lead while you still have some control when needed. Long line leashes are not appropriate to train your dog not to pull on the leash. Long leads are also harder to control in short distances, and they may get tangled or wrapped around objects including yourself or your dog. You should not use long lines when your dog is at play because injury may occur.
Hopefully you have learned some of the differences between these leash styles and can now purchase the right leash or leashes for the right activities. This should make for better experiences for you and your dog no matter where you are, or where you go.
Good job! You just made a better life for the both of you!