How to Choose the Best Leash for Your Dog

Planning on getting a dog and not sure how to choose the best leash? Read this guide to learn what to look for to ensure you make the best choice.

There are many factors that go into choosing the best leash for your dog:

  • Flat or retractable?
  • Nylon or leather?
  • Four feet or eight feet?

It can feel overwhelming when you step into a pet store and see a wall of dog collars and leashes. Fear not! This guide will teach you everything you need to know about buying the best leash for your dog.

Why Use A Leash for Your Dog?

The number one reason to use a leash is for the safety of your dog. It’s the best way to keep your dog under your control while outdoors and around others. Not to mention, in most places it is illegal to have your dog off leash in a public space.

So to start with, let’s look at the different types of leashes and what they’re best for.

Types of Dog Leashes

The most popular leash for puppies is the standard flat leash. Senior dogs are most often seen walking on a retractable leash or slip leash.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Flat leash: This is the most basic kind and a must-have for every puppy owner. It’s typically between four and eight feet long, available in nearly every color/pattern imaginable. There is no weight requirement for when you can switch your puppy to a different kind of leash; it mostly depends on how quickly during the puppy training process they pick up on walking on the leash. Many dogs will do great with a flat leash for their whole lives.
  • Retractable leash: Nearly every dog owner has a strong opinion about retractable dog leashes, from “It’s great; my dog has way more freedom to run!” to “They’re dangerous and owners aren’t in control of their dogs!” Both sides of the debate make good points. The handle gives you the option to retract, extend and lock the leash, usually up to 30 feet long. However, the varying lengths make it impossible for your dog to learn where the boundaries are. In addition, a retractable leash can be difficult to operate with the quickness needed to keep your dog safe. Most people who think retractables are dangerous use flat leashes or opt for another kind on this list.
  • Slip leash: This functions as a collar and leash in one. The lead has a loop at the end which slips over the dog’s head and tightens when pulled. A slip leash is not good for the long term, but I like to keep one in my car for times when I come across stray dogs. It’s not the best choice for an everyday leash for your dog because of the potential for choking, but will suffice as a backup.

Types of Clips

The kind of clip on your leash is extremely important. The clip secures the leash to your dog’s collar or harness.

  • Bolt-snap clip: These are spring-loaded and open when you press down on the lever. They are usually reliable, but if your clip is old or made poorly it can weaken and pop open. Always choose a metal clip rather than plastic.
  • Trigger-snap clip: These operate using the same principle, but tend to be bigger and stronger, thus making them even more reliable. If budget allows, opt for a trigger-snap clip.

How to Choose the Best Leash

  • Size/length: The longer the lead, the more freedom your dog has to move away from you during walks. Choose the length based on how well your dog is trained to walk on a leash. It is best to start with a six foot long flat lead for a puppy.
  • Materials: Nylon is the most popular material for leashes because it’s cheap, sturdy and available in a variety of colors. However, if your dog tends to chew on their leash, it may fray easier than some other materials. Leather is more expensive, but is harder for dogs to chew through. You may find that a leather leash is more comfortable to hold and suits your personal style.

The Bottom Line

If your dog gets excited during walks and pulls on their leash, this can cause them to choke on their collar. If this happens regularly, look into getting a pet harness so your dog isn’t injured during walks. Keep your dog safe and keep your peace of mind by using a strong, well-made leash when you take them outside.

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John Woods
John Woods is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old. He is also graduate in animal welfare and behavior and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.