Selecting the right leash can be a matter of life and death!

Imagine that you are walking your dog and before your eyes, your dog spies a squirrel and takes off into the street. What happens next is largely determined by the leash you select.

Walking your dog is a fulfilling way to exercise and enjoy your dog’s company. Walking your dog also requires care and attention to the leash you choose, the area you walk in and to the dog’s gait, bowel movements and urination habits.

Consider these things before selecting a leash

The size of your dog dictates the weight and thickness of your dog’s leash. Consider a canvas or leather leash, even for small dogs. The leash should be at least the length of the dog’s body, from nose to tail. Additional length offers the opportunity for your dog to go farther, but you have to consider how well you can control a dog six feet away. Walking your dog is different from stooping to pick up after him. It takes our attention from the dog and often gives her a slack leash to run.

Retractable leashes cause safety concerns

Retractable leashes scream convenience because they let the dog travel farther, especially if you want to stand on the back stoop in the rain while they go out! But retractable leashes can pose a few obstacles when walking your dog.

  • The leash still must be of appropriate size and strength for your dog.
  • Retractable leashes will pop loose from the retractor if pulled too hard. Imagine the surprise of my friend’s 12-year-old when he pulled back on the leash of their 106-pound dog and the dog pulled free from the leash, leaving the child on his bottom. The dog ran free in the road and neighbors’ yards until Dad could round him up. Thankfully, neither the boy nor the dog was hurt.
  • While canvas or leather leashes can be quickly pulled taught with the turn of a wrist or the lifting of an arm, the retractable leash is slower to respond. So not only does the leash go out a few feet before you can respond to a dog that has taken off full-speed, but you can be pulled with force behind the dog or have your shoulder injured from the sudden jerk.
  • Retractable leashes cause rope-like burns if pulled across the skin. A golden retriever got excited, ran around the person holding the leash, and caused immense pain as the leash tore across the backs of his legs, leaving painful burns and bleeding.
  • When walking more than one dog when leashes often get tangled in each other. When two or more retractable leashes are tangled, stopping a dog that darts off becomes an impossible feat without grabbing the actual leash line. Aside from hurting your fingers, this leaves the other dog(s) with less attention and a greater ability to pull away, as well.

Standard leashes require a little know-how

When walking your dog with a standard leash, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always use a buckling collar. A choke collar will cause damage to the dog’s throat and windpipe when used to halt the dog or pull him away from a distraction.
  • Always have the handle loop of the leash around your wrist and not in your hand. A distraction or quick move can rip the leash from your fingers, while a leash is secure around your wrist. Even when changing hands, move the leash over one hand and onto the other wrist without letting it fall loosely into your hand. I actually clasp the fingers of the receiving hand over the giving fist to ensure a safe transition.
  • Become familiar with some moves allowing dexterity to keep leashes straight. Lift your hands over your head. Turn around like your are dancing with a partner, lifting the leash over and around your head. Learn to reel in the leash over your wrist. This can be a life-saver!
  • Perhaps most important, walk your dog routinely so that he understands your commands, knows what the tugs on his leash mean, and enjoys a safe walk with his people.

Share this article with your friends and family so they can learn how critical choosing the correct leash can be for their dog’s health.

By Beth Crosby