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One of the most important bonding experiences we have with our dogs is taking them for a walk. It’s a fun, healthy activity for both you and your dog. It allows them to sniff around and see new interesting friends in the neighborhood.
When you’re taking your dog on walks, you want to be comfortable! I’ve used so many leashes over the years that just weren’t very comfortable to hold.
It’s even worse if your dog is a bit of a puller or gets overly excited! Read on for the best dog leashes to make your walks easy and fun!
Why You Need A Dog Leash
One of the first things people need when getting a new dog is a collar and a leash. Collars with updated tags are necessary for identifying your dog if they manage to run away, but leashes are vital to keeping your dog safe by your side.
Let’s say your dog is amazing off-leash, and walks by your side easily. It’s still important to find a great dog leash! Having your dog leashed is mandatory in most places, including many veterinarian offices.
Plus, even dogs who normally have wonderful recall back to you can still get distracted by another dog, human, or even moose in our case here in Alaska!
I’ve also heard way too many stories of dogs running off the trails here and getting caught in a hunting trap.
It’s happened so often, there are now local classes and videos on how to help a dog if they do get caught.
It hurts my heart to think about poor dogs hurting like that, so please, keep your dog leashed when in unfamiliar territory!
Best No-Pull Leash
If you’ve got a dog that just loves to pull on the leash, there are ways to help them (and your shoulders!). Roxy is a sturdy girl and at 50lb, she’s got some strength!
We signed her up for training classes a few years ago, and one of the skills we learned was how to direct her attention toward us with high-value treats.
I’d keep the treats in a pouch on my hip and reward her positive behaviors.It helped Roxy so much!
She does get a bit out of practice over the winter, which makes spring the perfect time to reinforce those skills while brushing off the last bits of the cold weather.
If your dog gets overly excited and forgets their manners when heading out on walks, spend some time in your house or yard practicing.
Working on training in comfortable, familiar areas helps reduce the amount of stimulation and distractions.
When we took Roxy in for training, the instructor highly recommended the PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar for dogs who pull.
It applies gentle pressure to their pressure points, while removing painful pressure from their neck. She did a demonstration with a young, energetic dog who loved to pull, and the difference was immediate!
PetSafe even includes a DVD with instructions on how to adjust the fit, along with training tips to help your dog feel comfortable and learn how to walk politely. Add a leash to this and it’s often considered the best dog leash for pulling.
Best Hands-Free Leash
If you’re a runner who loves bringing your dog along for a nice jog, a hands-free leash may be just what you need. The OneTrail Hands Free Leash is one of the best dog leashes for running.
It straps around your waist and has a convenient pouch for storing treats, keys, and poop bags. Basically, it holds all your essentials!
The waist pack has leash rings on both sides, so you can switch sides you have your dog walk on, or even walk two dogs at once. The 4-foot bungee leash keeps them close while still giving a bit of freedom and movement.
Best Padded Handle Leash
My husband swears by leashes with a padded handle. He feels they’re so much more comfortable than flat leashes. This Vivaglory Dog Leash is great! The padded handle gives you a nice grip that doesn’t chafe or dig into your hand.
The Vivaglory Leash also has an additional handle to keep your dog close when needed. I really like the reflective thread sewn in, as much of our walking in Alaska happens in the dark when days are short.
Best Inexpensive Dog Leash
Looking for a basic, cheap leash until you figure out what style you like? This leash by PetSafe is fantastic for the price!
The clip is nice and secure, and while the leash is pretty basic, it’s well-constructed. It pairs perfectly with the PetSafe Gentle Leader mentioned above!
What About Retractable Leashes?
When picking out dog leashes retractable ones seem to come up often. We used retractable leashes for years with Ginger, who was an excellent walker and never pulled.
While it was fine for her, I’ve come to learn that they’re not recommended and can actually be quite dangerous.
Retractable leashes reinforce the desire to pull by letting your dog have extra freedom when they demand it. That doesn’t help them learn safe walking habits, and may in fact cause their pulling to get worse.
In addition, retractable leashes can often extend 10-30 feet, which makes it harder to secure your dog if a safety concern arises.
There’s also been horror stories of retractable leashes snapping and causing burns, cuts, and even finger amputations! I’ve now learned to stay far away from them. Know better, do better, right?
How to Use a Dog Leash with No Collar
I don’t know about you, but it’s always seemed like I’m a dog magnet wherever I go. In fact, my friend Lauren was joking about how I would have a trail of dogs following along with me during our trip to Bali a few years ago!
One thing I picked up on quickly while living in Puerto Rico was how a dog leash could be used with no collar. As I was volunteering with OBRA dog rescue, I always had my eyes open to dogs in need, which, sadly, was all too often in PR.
While it didn’t make sense to carry a bunch of different size collars with me, I did get into the practice of keeping a few spare basic, flat leashes in our car to be able to secure stray dogs.
You simply slip the end of the leash through the handle to make a large loop. When you have the opportunity, slip the loop over the dog’s head and tighten. This essentially turns a regular leash into a slip lead.
Slip leads are not something I recommend for normal use. They can be difficult to walk with, tighten past the point of comfort, and can cause neck pain.
However, if it’s to prevent a lost or stray dog from running into traffic, it’s worth knowing this skill for very short-term use.
Note: be super careful of doing this if you are using this technique on an unfamiliar dog. You don’t know their temperament and how scared they must be, and scared dogs might lash out and bite.
Cute Ways To Store Dog Leashes
Now you’ve got your favorite leash, but where are you going to store it? I have an easy-access station with Roxy and Rico’s leashes, harnesses, backpacks, and my walking bag. I learned to make it easily accessible since we’ve had a few large earthquakes that made me consider what to do if we needed to evacuate quickly.
To set up your easy-access station, get a small storage container and fill it with your pet’s essentials. I keep ours in the coat closet near the front door to make it convenient for walks.
If you want to display your leashes, there are TONS of adorable wall hooks to hang them on! Here’s a few super cute ones!