When we first have a dog, it can be all too easy to reach for the nearest and most cost-effective leash available. Those dollar-store leashes may be cheap, but they’re not necessarily convenient. Hands up if you’ve ever experienced the ‘rope burn’ inherent to walking a dog with a cheap leash. It’s a rookie error of which many of us are guilty.
If you’ve fallen into this trap, never fear. We are here to walk you (and your dog!) through the top-three considerations for when it comes to choosing a leash. There are more factors at play than you may realise.
Type of leash
Did you know there are different types of leashes? Oh, yes! If you’ve experienced that ‘rope burn’ feeling described above, your dog is likely a ‘puller’ in need of a harness leash. Like a traditional harness, a harness leash gets a handle on a ‘puller’. It consists of an extra feature, which wraps around the dog’s torso. Not only does the harness leash allow for better control, but it also redistributes the pressure from around your dog’s neck. Ergo, the torso absorbs more of the tension, lessening the choking hazard inherent to a ‘puller’s’ collar.
A prime example of a harness collar. You’ve definitely seen them before.
An even better alternative to a harness collar is a harness-and-collar combo. Keep your eyes peeled for obedience leashes and shock-absorbant harnesses.
The Cruise Control Obedience Leash and No-Pull Harness combination from Stylish Hound.
The most common type of leash, of course, is the standard leash. These leashes don’t have any features besides the standard handle and clip. The quality, of course, can vary greatly from model to model. A dollar-store leash, for instance, is a common leash, but that doesn’t make it a good fit for a dog. If your dog has no behavioral issues or is not undergoing training, we recommend a high-quality standard leash. For your own benefit, it’s best to buy one that is comfortable to hold!
We recommend staying away from retractable leashes, which are in direct contrast to harness leashes. Retractable leashes allow for walking liberties, and they actively reward negative dog behaviours such as pulling. These leashes can also be hazardous to humans and dogs alike. For these reasons, we recommend standard leashes, harness leashes, or leash-and-harness combinations depending on your dog’s behavior or life stage.
The most popular leash material is nylon—and for good reason. It’s inexpensive, durable, and generally keeps in good nick. It’s a safe bet! However, it may be unsuitable for ‘pullers’. Remember that ‘rope burn’ feeling? That mostly happens with nylon leashes. It’s also not the grippiest of materials. For more adventurous dogs, you may want to invest in a leather lead. This material is soft yet strong, and with a little maintenance, leather leashes can last for life. Think of it as an investment in quality. If you’re vegan, biothane leashes are a solid animal-free alternative.
One of Stylish Hound’s standard leashes.
Length and width
Did you know that leashes come in a variety of different lengths? It’s true! The most common length is six feet. Leashes can also be as short as four feet and as long as 33 feet. What you’ll need will depend on your dog and their daily activities. Six-foot leashes typically suffice for day-to-day walks. It gives the dog a few feet of freedom, but it also gives you a modicum of control. Leashes of the 12-foot to 33-foot varieties can be beneficial for dogs hard of hearing or who are yet to master their recall. The important thing is that you can still keep control.
Width is also important. When choosing a width, bear both your dog and yourself in mind. What feels comfortable to you? How strong is your dog, and what is their weight and overall size? If you use a thinner leash on a larger dog, the leash may just break under its heaving pressure. If you use a larger leash on a smaller dog, this may be uncomfortable for the dog, whose smaller frame does not call for such heavy-handedness. A thicker leash may be uncomfortable to hold, too.
Walk this way
As you can see, purchasing a leash is not as straightforward as it may appear. There are factors to consider, such as length, width, material, design, and canine compatibility and comfort (that goes for humans, as well). Sometimes it pays to play around until you find the best fit for you and your favorite furry pal. We hope we’ve provided some food for thought for when it comes to choosing the perfect leash.