Enjoying a walk in the park with your dog obediently at your heels is a dream activity of many pet owners. Of course, our canine friends need to learn first how to do these things. That is why it is always best to start by training them on their leash. But a leash is not only great for training purposes — it’s also an important safety tool for your pooch and for others around you. It may look nothing more than a simple cord with a hook on one end and a loop handle on the other but true dog leashes can help save lives. It may be your own, your dog, or others. With these best dog leashes we’ve researched for you, you can easily pick out the most appropriate for your mutt.
Dog Leash Buying Guide
Whether it is for training purposes or even to help you control your mutt while you’re taking a stroll down the street, at the park, or even in your neighborhood, it is crucial that you use only the most appropriate lead for your dog. Fortunately, we have prepared some of the things that should help you find the best lead for your pet.
Choose the type of cord you may want.
Canine leads typically come in three fundamental types. In fact, each one will have a slightly different purpose and will often come with distinct advantages over the other types. That being said, it is critical to choose the type of lead that your canine will need based on what you really want to do.
Standard Dog Leash
Standard canine leashes are what you can call your run-of-the-mill type of leads. Depending on their length, these can provide exceptional control if you choose the shorter length cords or sufficient freedom for the canine to roam and explore its immediate surroundings. The reason for the greater control is in the straightforwardness of the design. They feature no retracting mechanisms and can come in braided or solid designs that typically range from 4 to 8 feet.
Retractable Dog Leash
This type of lead is quite controversial since a lot of experts do not recommend its use. Unfortunately, despite professional warnings, retractable dog leashes remain a very popular choice among dog owners because it gives them the chance to really lengthen the cord to a considerable degree that the pooch is granted greater freedom of movement. Considering that there are products that can be extended up to 26 feet, it sure is a great way to allow canines to wander without the constant interference of their masters.
Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies. Because of the greater distance between the dog and its human master, the degree of control exerted by the human greatly diminishes with each extension of the cord. If the pooch suddenly bolts because it saw a raccoon or a squirrel, the lengthy cord can easily snap or it can even injure the pet. Of course, the only way to reestablish control is to shorten the length of the cord. In this case, you’d be better off with a standard dog leash.
This is not to say that retractable leads are not useful. In fact, they are quite beneficial if you have a pet that is well-behaved and is properly trained on the leash. Additionally, if you can honestly tell yourself that you’re more comfortable giving your pooch more lead-room, then the retractable is for you.
Adjustable Dog Leash
These types of leads marry the controllability of standard leads with the flexibility of retractable leads. These typically range between 3 feet and 6 feet and the length can be either increased or decreased simply by adding or removing clips or loops, respectively, along with the length of the cord. Additionally, this can come in handy especially for those who love the controllability of standards which is particularly useful in training. And when they go out for a walk, they can easily add links or loops to the cord length and they already have a longer lead.
Understand the different materials used.
Once you have identified the type of lead you would want for your pooch, it’s time to decide on the materials that you would like the lead to be made of. Currently, there are 3 types of materials that provide strength and durability in dog leashes.
Leather Dog Leash
This is a very durable material and is largely regarded as one of the most comfortable to hold. However, they are quite expensive, and may require some degree of maintenance to maintain its quality. While it is not really resistant to chewing, leather can stand up to the test of time if cared for properly.
Nylon Dog Leash
A very popular material, nylon provides durability at a cost that is friendlier than leather. These are weather resistant, too. Sadly, they tend to create friction, especially when tugged by dogs. They are also not as resistant against chewing.
Chain Dog Leash
If you’ve got a tenacious chewer, then getting a metal dog leash is for you. The drawback, of course, is that these tend to be on the heavy side. Choosing the right size of the metal chain that is appropriate for your pooch should be your primary consideration.
Determine the correct length.
We already said that different types of leads come in different lengths. Shorter lengths are ideal for safety and training purposes while longer leads are perfect for distance command training. Plus, they are also beneficial for allowing your canine friend to explore and roam around without you losing control over it.
Consider the right width.
If you have a mutt that is known for pulling or chewing, you’d definitely want a thicker and wider lead. This should help prevent the lead from snapping as the increase in width and thickness can lend strength to the lead. Conversely, if you have a small dog or a small puppy, a thinner and slimmer lead is more appropriate as this is less restrictive and lighter, too. Once they grow, you can upgrade to a thicker or wider lead.
What Size of Dog Leash Do I Need?
One of the things that you have to seriously consider when choosing or buying a lead for your canine friend is the size of the leash which is actually a function of its length, width, and thickness. We’ll try to examine the different lengths of leads as this is very important.
- 4 feet – This is primarily useful if walking your dog in high-traffic areas, although if you can get an even shorter 2-feet or 3-feet lead, better. This allows you maximum control over your pet and is especially useful for training dogs to stay on your heel.
- 6 feet – This is perfect for a leisurely walk in the park or in areas with less traffic. The extended length allows for canine exploration without danger of the cord getting tangled.
- 8 to 10 feet – This is perfect for obedience training purposes by allowing some distance between you and your pet. You still get to exert control over your pooch.
- >10 feet – Long line leads are ideal for distance command training. These can actually range between 50 and 150 feet. This is perfect for training long stays or recalls.
Training Your Dog with a Leash
It is one thing to buy a dog leash. It’s definitely another matter to teach your pooch how to walk on a leash. Like all canine training activities, it is important to proceed in a stepwise manner and to get your cue from your dog itself. Rushing things can only make the training more difficult for your pet and more frustrating for you. Here’s how to train your dog with a leash.
- Always get your pet to become familiar with its leash and collar first. You don’t have to walk him in it yet. Just leave it lying on the floor, allowing your pet to play with it from time to time until it accepts it as an ordinary thing. You can then wear the collar around its neck.
- Teach your pet to respond to a verbal or sound cue. This is where a clicker can come in handy. Plus, the addition of some treats can help reinforce the teaching of a cue.
- Entice your pet to come to you. As it moves toward you, move several steps back before giving its treat. By this time, it should already be wearing both the collar and the leash. The point is for you to give the verbal or sound cue, wait for it to start walking towards you, and start walking a few paces. This means your pet is already ‘walking with you’.
- Practice this activity in your home with very little distraction until such time it is already comfortable ‘walking’ with you with its leash on. Gradually take it outside. First, do it in the backyard, then the next block, the neighborhood, and so on and so forth. Make sure that with each progression, you’d have to go slowly. Remember to give praises and treats, too.
Tips to Walk Your Dog with a Leash
Now that you have trained your pooch to walk with its leash on, you’re now ready to walk with your dog. Here are some tips to make it even more meaningful.
- Be the leader of the pack. Always stay ahead of your pet while you’re walking. It should either be beside you or even behind you. If you have to enter or exit a door, you should always be the first.
- Provide at least 30 minutes to walk your pet. However, do consult with your veterinarian if it is okay for your pet to walk for an hour or so. You will also need to be very observant of your pooch’s behavior during and after the walk.
- Always bring plenty of water with you for your canine friend to drink especially if you intend on extending your walk to several miles. Canines don’t have a very efficient way of cooling themselves so you have to make sure they stay hydrated and have ample rest in between walks.
- Allow your pet to explore its surroundings at certain times in your walk. For example, after 10 minutes of walking, you can stop and let your pet explore its immediate surroundings. This is its reward for walking with you. Again, you have to take the lead when saying it’s time to resume the walk.
- Don’t ever forget providing positive reinforcement to your pet after the walk. It can be its favorite toy, a warm hug, or even a hefty portion of its favorite meal. This reminds your pet that it has to ‘work’ to gain these rewards.
Walking with your canine friend can be so much fun especially if you have already trained them to walk with you on a leash. By carefully considering the type, length, width, and material of the lead you intend on buying for your pet, you will have a much greater chance at teaching them how to walk with you on their leash. Fur further control, you may wish to combine this with a high-quality dog harness from our other buying guide.