A leash, or lead, is the most important piece of safety equipment your dog will ever have. It keeps him out of traffic and next to you should he find a reason to bolt. And while it may not stop him from talking trash to the dog walking on the other side of the street, it will keep the two dogs apart.
The best leash is the one that suits your dog
- Nylon or cotton is best for dogs who don't pull too hard. Cotton is more flexible and easier on your hands; nylon is stronger and more durable. Either can be chewed to pieces.
- Leather lasts the longest and is best for dogs who pull. The leather will soften with age. However, leather can also be chewed to pieces.
- A retractable leash lets your dog wander a little farther away during walks when it's safe, and you can shorten the length to bring him closer. It's a long leash (often 16 or 25 feet), rolled up on a spool inside a plastic handle. It releases, retracts, and locks into place at the push of a button. The leash itself can be a cord or made of webbing, and the webbing hurts less when it (inevitably) becomes wrapped around legs--the dog's or yours. Webbing can be chewed to pieces, and cords can be chomped through in a single bite. Note: These extension leashes can teach bad leash habits because a dog learns it's okay to pull.
- Couplers make it easier to walk two dogs simultaneously. Essentially a two-pronged lead, a coupler clips on to the end of your regular leash, creating a Y shape. Some can be adjusted for dogs of different heights so your tall dog doesn't drag your short dog.
- Slip leashes, a one-piece combination of a leash and collar, can be put on and removed quickly. They're used on dogs who aren't wearing a collar--such as show dogs or strays at a shelter--but they aren't the best choice for walks. A slip leash must be put on correctly or it won't loosen properly.
- A traffic leash is designed to keep the dog close to you and out of the way of honking traffic. It's a very short leash, approximately a foot or so long.
What to look for in a leash
- Length. Basic leashes tend to be either four or six feet long. Retractable leashes are significantly longer, typically about 25 feet but sometimes more. Slip leashes tend to be about four feet in length.
- Safety. Once teeth have been sunk into a leash, toss it and get a new one, otherwise it may rip in half during use. Even if no one chews on a leash, replace it after a few years--normal wear and tear causes a leash to break eventually (not fun on a busy street).
Products that complement your leash
Any leash, except a slip leash, must attach to a collar or harness.
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