If you own a dog, leashes are definitely a necessary tool in your training kit. But strolling down the pet store aisle and trying to pick the right leash for you and your dog can be confusing. What is the difference in leash lengths? Should you buy a retractable or nylon leash? You could spend more time than you expected just trying to find the right leash. So here is a summary of different types of leashes you may want to consider and the uses you will have for them.
- Nylon leashes: The most common type of leash available. Nylon leashes come in different lengths and widths, ranging from one foot long to 100 feet long and from ¼ inch wide to two inches wide. Thinner leashes are great for smaller dogs (under 25 pounds) because they are lighter weight; Thicker leashes are better for larger dogs that put more tension on the leash if they pull. The wide range of lengths that the nylon leashes are available in can come in handy depending on the type of training you are doing. Short nylon leashes, one foot to four foot long, are great for teaching your dog to walk close to you, such as in heeling, or for taking your dog to a crowded event where your dog needs to remain close by your side. Longer leashes, ten to 100 feet long, are great for training recall or allowing your dog more room to wander at parks or while hiking. Nylon leashes are easily cleaned and, if wrapped in a pillow case, can be cleaned in your washing machine. Make sure your dog does not chew on your nylon leash, as this will cause the leash to fray and lose strength.
- Retractable leashes: A retractable leash consists of a plastic handle that contains a cord or nylon leash that retracts or extends out of the handle based on your dog’s movement. It allows your dog to wander to and from you without dragging a leash along the ground. This means you do not have to own a long leash if you want your dog to have some freedom to roam on walks or at the park. This type of leash is better for a well trained dog, rather than for a dog that needs training and does not mind you. Also, a retractable leash will teach your dog to pull on the leash so that it can increase its distance from you, so it is not recommended when teaching your dog to walk properly on a leash. This type of leash also does not have a way to pull your dog back to you, so if your dog does not have good recall, it may be difficult to reel your dog back to you if they do not come back to you on their own.
- Chain leashes: A chain leash is made of a metal chain link that has a nylon or leather handle. It is not easily damaged and is typically available in two thicknesses, a thinner leash for small dogs and a thicker leash for large dogs. If your dog is notorious for chewing on their leash, a chain leash will not be damaged by your dog’s chewing. However, it may be difficult to do obedience training with a chain leash due to the heavier weight of the metal chain link. If you dog suffers from any physical disabilities or is prone to physical disabilities, such as back pain, joint problems, strained muscles, etc., chain leashes should not be used as it can cause more painful problems for your dog.
- Specialty leashes: There are leashes that do more than just give you a hold on your dog. Some specialty leashes have an extra loop handle on the end with the clasp that allows you to switch from a four or six foot leash to a one or two foot leash by holding the different loop. There are also multifunctional leashes that have D rings throughout the middle of the leash and clasps at each end of the leash to change the length of the leash. This style of leash also allows you to tether your dog to a pole or tree while you are in public. Some specialty leashes are available with comfort grips. The handles, or entire leash, are padded to give the dog owner more comfort while gripping the leash. Specialty leashes may not be available at all pet stores, so know what you are looking for before making a trip to the store or searching on the internet.
Please remember to never leave a leash on your dog while your dog is unsupervised. Your dog may become tangled or caught while no one is supervising and can easily hurt themselves or worse. If you are having a tough time deciding which leash is right for you and your dog, try them out first before purchasing. Still cannot decide? It never hurts to have a few leashes in your dog’s training kit for different occasions!