A dog leash is definitely one of those things that will remain a fixture in your home for as long as you have a dog. It will see you both through the ignorance and training in puppyhood, the boundless energy that is adulthood and the serenity and slow walks of senior years.
Irrespective of the stage or condition your dog is in, he will always needs a leash. Usually when he is in public.
Now, if a leash is as important as this, it follows that you be well informed before picking one for your dog. And that is the purpose that this article serves.
So sit back and read up. This promises to be as comprehensive as possible. So, first…
What Is A Dog Leash?
A dog leash (sometimes called a lead) is usually a rope (but sometimes a string) that is attached to a dog’s collar or harness. It is generally used for leading, controlling and restraining a dog. Unlike a collar that could be worn all day every day, indoors or outdoors, a leash is usually only worn in public.
Normally, you can’t use the same leash on your dog throughout his lifetime. You’ll have to change his leash as he grows older; adjusting the length and thickness to fit his size and strength.
Types Of Dog Leashes
There are so many types of dog leashes out there that we can’t even begin to cover all of them. However, we will try to represent all the different types here so that you can see the plethora of options open to you.
Simple Dog Leash
This is, as the term implies, a simple leash that can be used on dogs that do not have issues with obedience. The simple dog leash is basically used to direct a dog and not necessarily for restraining.
It is not advisable to use this leash on a dog that loves to run around and has issues with staying put. He will run around and not stay put.
Standard Dog Leash
This is the basic everyday leash. The standard dog leash comes in different shapes, sizes and thickness. So they can be used on basically any dog.
On the one end there is a clasp (plastic or metal usually) that is attached to a dog’s collar or harness. The other end is what you hold in order to control or direct.
The length or thickness you go with is dependent on how boisterous your dog is. We’ll expand on that when we talk about choosing the right leash.
Bungee Dog Leash
A bungee dog leash could be made of all rubber or a part of it (the part that needs to stretch) could be made of elastic. Because a bungee leash is stretchy, it gives your dog room to maneuver. Plus it is gentle on his neck.
However, one of the problems with it is that it puts all the controlling power on your dog. The elasticity of this leash allows your dog to keep pulling in the opposite direction of where you want him to go.
If your dog is the mild kind that always does what he is supposed to do, you could risk it. But if not, don’t try a bungee dog leash.
The best thing all round is to teach your dog to walk by your side when you go on walks instead of trying to manage the situation.
Braided Leather Dog Leash
This is most often used during training. The braiding makes the leash sturdy enough to withstand the pull of a dog who is proving to be resistant to training. While at the same time being soft enough that it is not abrasive on the handler or trainer.
Line Dog Leash
This leash is also used during training. It is the longest leash there is and could be as long as 60 feet (yup, that long). The reason this thing even exists is so that you can train your dog from a distance while still retaining control.
So, if you want to teach your dog to come when you call, it won’t be effective if he is right there by your side, would it? Hence the line dog leash.
He can stay as far as you want him to (or as far as the leash will allow), learn to come when you call, and you maintain control through it all. Everybody wins!
Harness Dog Leash
This is an all in one harness and leash. That is, the harness and leash are formed from one rope.
The point of this kind of leash is to restrict how high your dog jumps. You don’t want your dog jumping all over the place when you both are just taking a walk.
What you want to do is to use a harness dog leash on him. It doesn’t stop him from jumping, it just stops him from jumping way too high. So with the harness dog leash, he learns to jump only as high as the leash (or you) allow.
Slip Dog Leash
The slip dog leash is designed to work without a collar. Other leashes have a clip or clasp at one end and it’s that clip or clasp that is fastened to a collar or harness.
The slip leash, on the other hand, has a metal ring on one end. What you do is, you run the other end of the leash right through the ring to form a kinda loop. It is this loop that goes around your dog’s neck.
This should not be a leash of first resort. Only think of using it if there is no collar and or leash available.
The reason is, because the slip leash is not a collar, you cannot properly control its tightness. So, by merely pulling on it, you could end up destroying something in your dog’s throat or even strangling him.
Retractable Dog Leash
A retractable dog leash very closely resembles a retractable tape measure. It is basically a device (usually made of plastic) with spring coiled on the inside of it. You can set it by feeding out the length of cord you think is appropriate.
With the retractable leash, your dog can only go as far as the set length allows him. If he tries to go any further, the leash retracts. This allows your dog the room to roam without you needing to pull on it to call him back.
The retractable leash might seem like the right thing for you and your dog but hear us out first. For one, this leash doesn’t allow you so much control. We understand that you set the length but how do you know what distance will always be appropriate?
What might be a safe distance when you leave your home will probably not be a safe distance when you’re out on the streets.
For instance, you might set the leash to a length that you think is safe enough from traffic (and at that point it is) when you’re at home. But stepping out, you keep getting closer to traffic but the leash remains where you set it. Your dog could end up getting hit by a vehicle while the retractable leash remains at the “safe length” you set it to.
Also, a retractable leash is usually not very durable. Too much pressure and the cord snaps, injuring your dog and even you (when it ricochets).
Choosing The Right Leash For Your Dog
In choosing the right leash for your dog, here are a few things to bear in mind:
The perfect leash is neither too long nor too short. Too short and your dog is practically underfoot. Too long and you are no longer in control.
So, you want to choose a nice length that allows your dog room to roam without getting in trouble or getting underfoot.
However, there are times when you will need a leash that is pretty long. At those times, instead of getting a regular leash that is way too long, get a leash that is designed to be way too long (hint: the line dog leash).
The thickness of the leash should be determined by the size and energy level of your dog. A big dog will need a thicker leash than a small dog. Also, an adult dog will need a thicker leash than a senior dog.
The idea is that a big dog or an adult dog will pull more enthusiastically on the leash than a small dog or an adult dog. Hence, the need for a thicker leash.
You could get a high visibility leash just in case you ever want to walk your dog at night. Really think about this if your dog is dark furred. You don’t want him getting knocked down because a driver didn’t see him coming.
Getting Your Dog Comfortable With A Leash
No dog is born with the ability to work on a leash without qualms. They have to learn, which means you have to train. So how do you go about this? Webmd gives us a few tips:
- Consider all your walks to be training sessions till he is properly trained. What this means is, you use every opportunity you have to walk to train.
Be careful not to stretch out the training periods, though. That could get your dog bored and antsy.
- Try to tire your dog out before the training. If he burns out the excess energy before you take him walking, he won’t push on his leash too vigorously. Do this till you are confident of his relationship with the leash.
- Use rewards. Anytime he does what he is expected to do, hand him one of his favorite treats. Ensure the treats are small and soft enough so he doesn’t waste time on chewing. What you want is for him to chew and go not relax and chew.
- Training your dog to walk on a leash is not the time to take a stroll or walk at a leisurely pace. If you do, you give your dog the opportunity to get distracted. And if he gets distracted training will be a little more difficult. So, walk briskly and let him concentrate on keeping up.
- Don’t walk your dog if he is too excited. Walking him is not going to automatically make him calm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t walk him. So what you want to do is to try to get him to calm down before you walk him.
If Your Dog Is Resistant To The Leash
Most dogs that show resistance to the leash are actually kinda scared. So you have to show them that there is nothing to fear with a leash. That the leash is actually a friend. Webmd also helps us with that:
- Treats almost always do the trick. Dangle a treat in front of him and if he isn’t so scared, he will follow.
- Try to start walking him in an environment that isn’t so scary. Scary could be anything from too many cars to too many people. Let him gain his confidence in less threatening environment. And as he gets better you can begin to walk him in busier environments.
- If he is very scared you could start by not walking. Let him just get accustomed to being leashed. So, you could just sit down with him or something. You could teach him a few things like “relax’ and “sit” and hand him treats when he gets it. Just until he’s comfortable.
Buying a leash is a pretty serious decision. And because there is no one size fits all, buying it is not a one off thing.
So at every point in your dog’s life, you have to always be armed with the right information to make the right decision. And that’s why we’ve written this article for you.
We’re sure you’ll make the right decision every time you need to buy a leash henceforth.