How to Find the Best Dog Leash for Walks

I never realized the importance of finding the best dog leash, collar or harness for your pup until we adopted two dogs. Before that we’d always had just one, and walking him wasn’t a problem

Sure, he would do what we called the bird dog–weaving back and forth across the path in search of critters. Then again, he was a golden retriever, cocker spaniel, beagle mix so had hunting dog in him.

Also, if he pulled with his harness, I could handle it. But now that I was walking two dogs? After the first few walks with them, I would come home in tears.

I needed a better harness, to be sure. But I also needed a better leash that would let me get back to enjoying walking my dogs.

The best dog leashes that make walks enjoyable

Believe it or not, dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a lead. This is something you have to teach them.

In fact, we ended up hiring a dog trainer after adopting these two puppies. That helped tremendously in getting them to behave on the leash.

Having the right dog leash will go a long way towards having a well-behaved pooch like the American Eskimo Dog, which just might be the perfect family pet.

However, there are a number of factors that go into choosing a dog leash. These include:

  • Size and strength of your dog
  • Purpose (training, walking or running)
  • Material and durability of the leash
  • Special features, such as hands-free options

Here are some of the most popular options for leashes. Hopefully, one of these will meet your and your canine’s needs, especially if you like to take your pup with you when you shop at pet-friendly stores.

dogs at lowes store

Best dog leash for large dogs

We used to have neighbors that loved Great Danes. Even though they preferred these large dogs, the reality was they were not big people.

The mom, for example, was maybe five feet tall and possibly 95 pounds soaking wet. In other words, really petite.

Maybe they like Great Danes because the dad when to the University of Albany. The Albany college mascot is a Great Dane.

Choosing the right collar, harness and lead

So, how was it possible that she could walk a Great Dane who probably weighed as much as she did—if not more? The right collar, harness and lead.

It’s the same for Dan Morris of PetNPat and his two-year-old German Shepherd/Labrador called Bingo. He can be a handful, especially for his wife, Naomi.

“She uses a regular short lead with a HALTI head collar, which stops him from pulling and keeps him walking in a heel position beside her,” he said.

In case you don’t know, the HALTI head collar goes around a dog’s head as well as their snout. It makes it easier to handle larger dogs, including golden retrievers.

HALTI head collar available at Chewy.com. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

“He’s so strong and more difficult to control if he spots a cat or wild rabbit,” Morris added. Thus the aforementioned HALTI head collar.

Finally, this kind of head collar is also useful for training a dog how to walk well on a lead. So, if you’re new to dog ownership, it might be a good first leash and collar to try.

Here are some of the friendliest dog breeds.

Leashes for dogs that pull

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the worst kind of leash for a dog that pulls is one that is attached to a harness with a clip on the dog’s back. That setup actually encourages pulling.

This is the kind of harness and leash combo we used with our first dog, Buffy. And when he pulled, we always said that he looked like a hyena, which a hump on his back. If you have a dogs that pulls like Buffy did, you know what I mean.

On the other hand, if you get a harness where the tether attaches in front of the dog’s chest, they’re less likely to pull. Why? Because when the leash becomes taut, the harness tightens across their legs and they stop walking.

leah walking dogs recovery ride class

In fact, that aforementioned dog trainer was the one that introduced us to the Easy Walk harness I just described. Actually, it’s the PetSafe Easy Walk harness and it comes in eight sizes to fit dogs very small up to extra large.

You can find it on Chewy. In fact, you can get pretty much everything you need for your dog from Chewy. That’s why we signed up for Chewy’s Autoship service for food, medicine and treats.

Vacationing with your dog? Here are the most dog-friendly airports.

Best hands-free dog leash

Many people who run with their dogs prefer to use a hands-free leash. These might go around their waist, like a belt, or strap across their chest like a handbag or beauty pageant sash.

When Runners’ World did a roundup of hands-free leashes for runners, they suggested getting one with a “bungee” attachment. Why? Because unlike regular ones that might drag on the ground and trip you, the bungee stays short and keeps your dog tethered by your side.

However, if they do get ahead of you or lag behind as you pick up your pace, the bungee feature allows some flex without creating a tripping hazard.

Taking a rest day from running? Learn how to make time for yourself with a self-care Sunday.

Double dog leash

Maybe you’re like Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella and have two dogs. Sure, you can walk them each on separate leashes, but they can easily become entangled. Plus, your hands are completely occupied and can’t hold anything else.

Enter the Kurgo Quantum 6-in-1 dog leash, Bucciotti’s favorite. 

“It is an adjustable and multi-functional leash that is perfect for anyone that doesn’t want to carry multiple leashes and tethers,” said Bucchiotti.

According to the Kurgo, here are some of the configurations you can get from this product:

  • Six-foot dog leash
  • Three-foot training leash
  • Hands-free, over-the-shoulder courier style
  • Hands-free, around-the-waist style
  • Double dog walker

Leather leash

There are a couple of reasons that dog owners will choose a leather leash. One, a leather leash is much more durable than a nylon one.

Leather doesn’t fray over time like nylon does. Therefore, you’re likely to own it longer and spend less having to buy new leashes.

Two, the handle on a leather leash tends to have a stronger grit and grip to it yet is soft on your hands. On the other hand, nylon can cause irritation. 

And, three, if the leather gets wet, the handle doesn’t become slippery like nylon does.

European leather leash

The only downside? Wet leather might run or stain. I learned this the hard way with my European leather leash.

What is a European leash? It’s meant to be worn hands-free, which is how I used to walk my two dogs when they were first learning. Now I just use a regular nylon leash and that Easy Walk dog harness.

Anyway, I learned not to wear white when walking dogs on a leather lead on rainy days. Because those leather stains do not come out.

Dog leashes not to use

Overall, a retractable leash isn’t a good idea for most dogs. According to the AKC, retractable leashes actually encourage pulling.

leash for dogs on a light background
Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Plus, they can be dangerous. A few years ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled certain retractable leashes that severely hurt pets and owners.

Plus, Consumer Reports reported how some retractable leashes had cut, burned and almost strangled people using them.

Final thoughts on the best dog leash, collar or harness

Finally, sometimes the best dog leash isn’t one for dogs at all. 

Take Mandy Applegate who runs Splash of Taste. Her dog, Bolly, is a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu cross who weighs about five pounds. 

“She has a very thin, delicate neck, so I have a harness for her as I don’t want to put pressure on her neck [when using a leash],” said Applegate. “I’ve had to be creative though, as she’s so small and thin she can’t wear dog harnesses as they fall off, so she has a cat harness instead.”

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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