Choosing The Perfect Leash

All leashes are not created equal!

While choosing a leash may seem like a very simple decision, it actually is one of the most important training tools, coupled with a good collar, involved in your relationship with your dog. There are leashes available in almost every size, length and material- choosing from these can be a mind-boggling experience. However, the best leash in the world won’t matter if your dog is untrained; it is not meant to be a substitute for the control and relationship you form through positive reinforcement training sessions. A leash is a necessary item to keep your pup safe and by your side while teaching him the manners he needs to be the dog you want him to be.

These days you can find leashes made from almost everything, our least favorite being rubber. These leashes make little sense as their rubbery bounce encourages pulling with every step! Rubber leashes also make correcting harder.

  • Nylon is probably the most common material used to make leashes – it’s cheap, strong and comes in every color of the rainbow. It also can cause a mean “leash burn” on your hand if you have a strong dog that pulls suddenly when it sees a cat or a squirrel. Nylon is good as a first leash for a puppy, since it’s very light. However, don’t try to take your dog swimming with a nylon lead- it becomes slippery and even harder to hold on to in water. Recommended Product: Lupine Leads

  • Chain leashes are another cheap choice that are less-than-desirable. Again, chain is hard on the hands, and can take out a dog’s tooth if it happens to get stuck in their mouth. Chain can also easily get wrapped around a human finger and cause a fracture if you are walking a strong dog, as it has no give to it. Recommended Product: Heavy Weight Chain Lead

  • Leather is by far our favorite material for leashes. It is an incredibly strong material (think of why horse saddles are made from leather) that will soften with time. It is gentle on your hands and provides a natural amount of give as it wears in. Often, online stores provide the best leather leashes (as opposed to pet stores), so doing a search may provide you with a better leash at a better value. Recommended Product: 6 Foot Leather Lead

  • Cotton is a soft material with a decent amount of give, however it is often difficult to find. Cotton leashes also have the risk of rope burn, but they are excellent in water (we have a couple 20 ft. leashes for swimming). Recommended Product : Cotton Web Leash

Retractable Leashes (Flexis, etc): We felt these leashes belonged in their own category. We can’t emphasize enough how much we deplore these devices. They pose a hazard to your dog, other dogs around them, pedestrians on the sidewalk, and you! You have zero control when holding the bulky plastic mechanism which does not allow you to ‘reel” your dog in fast enough if an emergency arises. The instinct to grab the leash when something is distracting your dog will leave you with nasty rope burn from the thin cord many flexi-leashes use. We’ve seen, far too many times, dogs walked on training collars (choke chains or pinch collars) with retractable leashes. Walking a dog on this kind of leash negates the value of using such a collar in the first place, and does nothing positive for your dog!


In the city, a 4-foot long lead is usually a nice safe length to allow your dog to do his bathroom business and a bit of smelling while still keeping him relatively close to your side. If you live in a suburban setting and have more room when you walk your dog, you may want to choose a 6-foot lead. There are also longer leads available for training “come” and “stay” or for allowing your dog to romp at a distance in open spaces. Traffic leads are very short leashes (about a foot in length) that are useful for navigating your dog in crowds. However they often encourage pulling, so they should only be used when the situation calls for one, not every day.

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