Choosing the Best Dog Leash is one of the most important things you can do for you and your dog.
Dog leashes are usually one of the simpler pieces of your doggy toolkit, although they are vital to your dog’s safety, correct training and also your comfort they are often overlooked. Below is a rundown of the more popular types of leashes available and the advantages and limitations of each type.
Selecting the best length for your dog leash.
Most are under a foot long and are generally used for initial training or highly reactive dogs. The super short length positions your dog right at your side which is good in high traffic situations, busy paths, crowds, etc. Traffic leashes give your dog zero freedom though so definitely have limitations. Most include a straight handle, similar to a ski rope, that will not pinch together when your dog pulls. This improves comfort considerably and is much easier to get a firm, strong hold when compared to a traditional loop style leash.
Typically between 2 and 4 feet long, this length gives a compromise between a traffic handle for control and a longer 6+ foot leash for giving your dog some freedom to be, well, a dog. To sniff and explore the world around them.
A typical dog leash is between 5 and 7 feet long. This is the length most trainers will recommend for standard dog training as it gives you a good level of control, the dog an adequate level of freedom and also allows your dog to face you whilst receiving commands.
Shortening the leash, for example when crossing a street or dealing with other dogs, is usually achieved by wrapping the leash around your hand/wrist, which most dog trainers suggest is a bad idea due to the danger of rope burns, dislocated fingers and being pulled over. There are safer ways to wrap the leash that can be learnt with a little practice, however, these techniques can be forgotten in the panic type situations when you need to use them.
Leashes over eight feet allow your dog a controlled amount of freedom but with every extra foot of leash there is additional risk of your dog venturing into trouble. Leash laws in certain cities and states will often limit leashes to six foot.
Retractable Dog Leashes
Retractable dog leashes allow you to change the length of leash with a nylon cord that can extend anywhere from about zero to 30 feet. They automatically collect up any slack in the leash when you release the mechanism, retracting the line into the handle.
Although retractable dog leashes are quite popular, there are a few things to consider before you decide to use one:
Another problem with retractable leashes is that there is always tension on the leash, so pulling gets your dog where it wants to go. This means that your dog is constantly being rewarded for pulling. Teaching your dog to walk politely on a leash boils down to rewarding for keeping the leash slack. Extendable leashes undermine that goal.
Selecting the best handle type your dog leash
The options available for dog leash handles are limited at best.
Loop Style Handle
A typical leash includes a loop style handle that will pinch under tension, placing pressure on your hand and wrist. This type of handle is generally easy to manufacture and fits easily in your pocket when not being used. Adding padding to this type of handle will help alleviate the pressure applied making for a more comfortable hold.
Adjustable length Handle
In order to allow the leash length to be changed, a variety of adjustable length handle leashes are available. These can be a convenient solution but all share the same issues as a standard loop style handle that pinches under tension.
A flat handle as used on many traffic type dog leashes is a much more comfortable option and eliminates the pinching of conventional loop style handles. This type of handle is bulky, heavy and not easy to tuck into a pocket. It is generally not available on standard length leashes either.
Hands Free Leash
Instead of featuring a handle or wrist loop, hands-free leashes feature an adjustable strap or loop, which is designed to wrap around part of your body. Some wrap around your arm, but most wrap around your waist, chest, or across your torso.
Hands free leashes are a great option for those wanting to take their dog for a run or jog as it is much more comfortable to run without holding onto a dog. Anchoring the leash lower to the ground also means you are less likely to be pulled off balance by your dog when compared to a hand held option. Keep in mind you are attached to your dog though so if they do have the ability to pull you over you will be 'going down with the ship!
Retractable leash handles share similar comfort aspects as the flat handle and this may explain why they are so popular despite the negative safety and training related aspects.
Adjustable position handle
Lead Mate is a new tool that attaches anywhere on your existing leash providing a second, easy to hold point of contact when needed. The Lead Mate is shaped to fit comfortably in your hand without pinching. It attaches by screwing the two halves together around your leash and can be repositioned in a few seconds. It secures with enough force to hang from so won’t slip under tension.
The ball shape allows a full force grip when required but also allows you to release the handle if your dog lunges and you are being pulled over. Possibly not required for many owners, however, this can be a big deal for the elderly. Lead Mate is also a great option for those with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome as the shape makes it much more comfortable to hold.
Check it out here: www.lead-mate.com