So, many of you have already heard me rant on this subject, but I'm going to do it again! The lead you use for your dog is like a communication device between you and the dog. Different styles and sorts of leads have different effects – let’s have a look at the differences....
Extending Leads: Let's start with this little number.... If you are looking for a lead that will: reduce your communication with the dog to zero, teach her to pull on the lead, be difficult to hold, likely to burn your skin or that of passing children, trip up old ladies, be unpredictable and likely to release at the worst possible moment, then this is the lead for you. It’s even better if your dog is reactive to other dogs - the inconsistent length of the lead means the dog is never quite sure how much rope she has, and this can lead to nervousness and defensive behaviour around things the dog already finds worrying. The only good thing about extending leads is that they make a really satisfying noise when you throw them in the bin. Try it! Just don’t be tempted to get it out again (unless you’re going to set fire to it.) I HATE extending leads. Did you guess?! And it’s not just me. Check out these links if you still need convincing:
If your dog needs to be on a lead, it needs to be under control. You can’t do that with a retractable lead. If your dog is no good off the lead, teach it to come back when it’s called! Yes – it IS possible! (Maybe you could come to a Recall Masterclass?!)
So, rant over – what IS the right lead to use?
Well, it’s quite straight forward. For most dogs, except huge ones, a six foot lead made of leather or strong nylon is exactly all you need. It’s even better if it has a little ring on the handle end so you can double the lead over if you need to keep the dog really close to you, or carry it across yoru body. The dog clip should be big enough and strong enough to bear the weight of your dog, with the opening at the side, not the end of the clip. Most leads have a little slider thing to open and close the catch – check the one you are buying is good quality, not likely to get stuck or slide open.
A loose, comfortable lead tells your dog that all is well with the world. A tiny wriggle or a slight gentle tug from you means we’re changing direction or I need your attention – so much easier to tell your dog what to expect next. If your dog struggles to walk nicely on a normal lead, an extending lead is not the answer. In fact it will make it worse! Teach your dog how to walk nicely! It’s hard but not impossible! You may need to get hold of a balance harness and maybe a bit of training help but it will TRANSORM your walks!
If you want a bit more flexibility, a training lead will give you a lead that can be shortened to different lengths, has two clips for use with a balance harness and allows your dog a bit more freedom as and when that’s appropriate. Its a lead that looks like this
You can add on all sorts of extras – a lead that has NERVOUS or NO DOGs written on it to warn off passing interest, reflective flashes and stitching for night visibility, matching collars, fancy patterns, personalised messages, waist clips, padded handles, splitters for 2 dogs, the list is endless. Spend 10 minutes on amazon under this search to see what I mean.
Please avoid chain leads. They are heavy, not easy to shorten if you need to, uncomfortable to carry and can inflict serious pain if travelling at speed. They also reduce the communication down the lead. If you have a chain lead because your dog chews its lead, try this trick:
Attach two (nylon) leads to the dog’s collar. Hold one in your hand let the other trail. If the dog chews the lead you are holding, just drop it and pick up the other one. Repeat as necessary. The dog will quickly realise that chewing on the lead as you are walking along gets no response and is no fun because it just goes loose. If you are consistent the behaviour will stop. You might, first get what is called an ‘extinction burst’ where the chewing gets worse before it stops. That’s just the dog trying to reinvent the game. It will soon get bored. For added effect, you could spray some bitter apple spray on the lead to make it taste horrible.
So – for the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and dogs everywhere, please don’t use an extending lead. There’s really no excuse. I really like these but if they are out of your price range, these are also excellent.