How the Right Leash Makes a Difference
Walking your dog is prime time for bonding, or at least it should be. For many dog parents, taking the pup for a walk is less like a fun, relaxing time together and more like a battle of wills. It's common to see dogs pull while on walks and interested in trying to chase everything in sight.
Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash is one of the most basic, yet important training challenges. Loose-leash walking, in which the dog exerts no pull on the lead and remains at your side, is highly regarded as a sign of a well-adjusted dog and a good trainer.
The leash you use when walking your dog makes a huge difference, whether you're actively training at that moment or just going for the usual afternoon jaunt. First off, although retractable leashes are very popular, they are not recommended. They actually teach your dog to pull, because the dog learns that pulling extends the leash. Retractable leashes can also result in injury to both you and your dog.
They're usually so long that a dog can work up to a good speed before the leash pulls taut, causing a dangerous neck injury when the dog is finally jerked to a halt. The retracting part of the lead is made from a thin cord that can do significant damage to your hands if you attempt to rein the dog in manually, which is often necessary because the retraction mechanism breaks or can't overcome the dog's forward momentum. People have lost fingers, and dogs have been rushed to the vet with crushed windpipes due to these leashes.
The other main downside of the retractable leash is that their fully extended length allows your dog to be too far away from you. It's important to keep your dog near you, both for safety and for ease in communicating. Six feet is a good length for a leash, especially when teaching loose-leash walking. The leash should remain slack. Please contact a certified pet trainer for more information on getting your dog to walk on a loose leash.
Some dogs who resist learning not to pull on the leash can benefit from a no-pull harness, which discourages pulling without risk of harm to your dog's throat. However, many dogs can learn just fine with a normal collar, and that's when your choice of leash becomes more significant. When choosing a leash, besides the length you should also consider the material it's made from and how strong it is. We find that high tensile-strength nylon webbing is perfect for just about every dog, as it's lightweight and very tough. For extra security, some collars, harnesses, and leashes are adorned with reflective material to aid in nighttime visibility, which keeps you and your buddy a lot safer if you're walking near a road after dark.
Taking your best furry friend for a walk should be fun and relaxing, not a source of frustration, injury, or total chaos, and the right leash— and a bit of patience— will really help!