Rope leashes, choke collars, vinyl leads, stretch-extension walkers –there seems to be endless choices of tools you can use to walk your dog. Before you purchase or adopt a pet, it is important to be aware of how much time you will be spending on walks with your new pooch. Canine cuties need a brisk outing when they wake up, and rigorous exercise in the evening. Now that walking your dog will be an important part of your daily routine, evaluate which kind of leash would be the best fit for your type of dog. Selecting the right kind of leash is imperative, since it is the most frequently used tool you will rely upon. Learn what kind of leash will best help you train your pup, so that walking will be a joy and not a chore.
Leashes & Collars
Basic leash: This is a simple, vinyl or cord woven lead that snaps on to your dog’s identification collar. Without the bells and whistles, this is the perfect practical choice for a dog that is at a mature state, with a steady pace and reliable obedience response level. The basic leash is well suited for pre-trained adopted dogs, and would be less effective for unruly, untrained, or rambunctious dogs.
Slip collar: This is a great corrective tool to help your pup recognize that he has to respect your direction. The slip collar will tighten anytime your vibrant furry friend sees a squirrel, or a ball bounces in front of him. Whenever he lurches away, the leash tightens, and he will have to step back near you for comfort to return. This tool is particularly helpful when training your dog to “heel.”
Choke collar: This item is controversial, since there is no mistaking that it causes pain for the pet. This is a more severe method of correction for dogs that do not regard the restraint of a slip collar leash. Choke collars can be simple chains, or metal-pronged neck liners, that work to harshly limit a large and powerful dog breed’s ability to disobey you. Some animals are more aggressive, and even dangerous if they are left untrained. Though it may not be the ideal method, for stubborn and powerful dog breeds, choke collar restraints may be necessary.
Extension leash: This kind of leash is suited more for smaller dogs. It will allow them the freedom to sniff under that bush ahead, or linger at that leaf after you have already passed it. The leash extends and retracts based on how close your dog is to you. Instead of you fighting for your dog to walk closely, this leash is a compromise that allows the owner to enjoy the stroll without having to manhandle the dog the entire way.
Note: Be aware that extension leashes are not the most effective tools for training your dog, since they provide the dog with freedom to do what he pleases, rather than learning how to heel and follow you. This leash will also further require your focus and attention if the dog tangles himself, or gets into trouble by exploring something he shouldn’t. Be wary and keep a sharp eye!
Muzzle: Walking your dog with a muzzle is a good way to limit incessant barking, or to curb dogs that are learning to control their inclination to nip or bite at other dogs and children. This should not be a long-term tool, but rather a preventative measure to be used while your dog is learning proper social etiquette with other animals and people.
Harness: Using a harness is a great alternative to leashes for dogs that have respiratory struggles (such as Pugs and Bull Dog breeds, etc), for whom having collar restrictions would be cruel. The harness allows the dog to breathe uninhibited, while still retained and limited by his dog-walker. This is also a helpful way to teach larger dogs to pull carts, sleds, or their owners as they bike or roller blade along.
When in doubt about what kind of leash and collar will work best for you and your pet, talk to your vet who understands your pet’s training level as well as the needs of your specific dog breed. Remember that walking your dog is not a passive activity; you are training him to be the best version of himself. So be wise with the tools you choose!