The choice in dog leashes is endless. How do you know which leash is the right leash for your dog?If you choose your dog’s leash on looks alone, you may be disappointed. Let’s take a look at the different types of leashes out there, what each is used for, and then you can decide which leash is the best choice for your dog.
A standard 6-foot leash is a great, all-purpose leash. Your dog can’t get too far away from you, but still has plenty of room to wander a little bit. This is a great length for taking your dog to the veterinary office, for a walk in a suburban neighborhood, and for obedience classes.
A short, 2- or 3-foot leash is perfect for busy city sidewalks, your kid’s soccer match, a dog festival, or somewhere where you don’t want or need your dog to be very far away from you. This leash allows you to keep your dog close to you, but also is long enough that the leash won’t always be tight on his neck (unless he’s pulling).
A long 20- or 30-foot leash is great for wandering through a wide-open field or anywhere else where you’re not likely to come across other people, dogs, or immovable objects like trees or poles. I love taking my dogs out on these long leashes. The dogs have almost the same freedom as being off-leash, but they’re much safer. My dogs can get up a full head of steam and run and frolic like puppies on these long lines.
A retractible leash (a.k.a. Flexi) is not recommended. I know this disappoints many people, but there aren’t many good uses for a retractible leash. The only use for a retractible leash would be for swimming your dog in an on-leash area. This leash gives you the security of being on leash, complies with a leash law, and is less likely to be caught on underwater objects. I don’t recommend retractible leashes for everyday use and never recommend them for tight quarters like veterinary offices, sidewalks, neighborhood walks, soccer fields, etc. The biggest drawback to the retractible leashes is that they actually encourage your dog to pull on a leash. So if you want your dog to walk politely, put away the retractible leash! These leashes also have a disturbing safety record — just search for “retractible leash injuries” for almost 10,000 hits on how dangerous these leashes are for both dogs and people.
I have all of the leashes mentioned (even the retractible leash). I use each one depending on where I’ll be and just how close I need my dog to be to me. The leash I use most often is the standard 6-foot leash. When I’m in public with a service dog in-training, I usually use the 3-foot leash.
I’ve included a short video to show you how and where I use each type of leash.
Your turn: what’s your favorite leash?
Jodi, Kolchak & Felix says
For Kol, I prefer an umbilical leash with a 3′ or 4′ slack on it. Despite a million years of training, he still loses his mind when he catches a scent and I have better control from my waist (which is weighted down by my ample behind and tree trunk legs.) my arm has way too much give!
Steph B. says
I too have all of the leashes above. My favorite leash by far is a 6 foot leash made out of high quality (English bridle) leather – it just feels good in my hands! It has a D-ring just below the snap, a loose ring in the middle, and an extra (tiny) snap clip that runs on the handle loop and snaps out of the way. It gives me the option to make the leash 6 feet, 3 feet, to make an emergency lead if the collar breaks, and to wear around my torso if I need to. I love options! 🙂
I got some good advice when I got my first dog, and that was “A thicker leash is not necessarily a stronger leash.” It is important to choose a material and thickness that is comfortable for your hands, so you can grip it securely and not worry about injury if the material slips through your palm or fingers. There are few dogs out there who require giant heavy duty 1.5″ wide triple layered nylon leashes (even my horse didn’t need that!) but I see people struggling to manage the bulk so frequently – I’m sure you do too Laurie!
We found an awesome use for Flexi leashes – attach one with a tiny dog harness to a toy to create your own lure! Just stretch the line out, click the hold button off, and the toy will zip towards you. My dogs LOVE chasing these – though I wouldn’t recommend trying this without a good “Drop it” command already installed. 🙂 Thanks for a great post!
Laurie Luck says
Yes, those umbilical leashes are nice, aren’t they!? The arms do have too much give, and I know a few people who’ve gotten shoulder injuries from their pulling dogs. Ow!
Laurie Luck says
Steph, I LOVE this! I shared the alternative idea for the Flexi leash on my Facebook page — it’s genius!
I like the leashes that give you the option to be 6′ or 3′ — it’s the best of both worlds!
Chester Jones says
Good advice. I personally don’t like the retractable leashes, so I never use them. Every time I have, it’s just been more of a pain than it’s worth. I’m planning on doing some dog training and I endorse regular leashes.