Choosing the Right Leash

jack russell dog prancing down an asphalt bicycle lane towards the viewer, with a blue leash in his mouth

Where do you start with choosing a leash?

You can go to any of the big box pet stores and get a 6 foot loop handle, maybe with a traffic loop, maybe a lighter weight if you have a small dog.

But there’s way more options out there to consider!

Dog Size

Don’t weigh your small dog down with a heavy clip, look for one that is sized appropriate to your pup. Narrower webbing is a great option unless your small dog is a real puller! It's strong enough, but may not be as comfortable in your hand as wider webbing.

If your dog is on the larger size, make sure to get hardware that will stand up to their body weight - especially if you’re still in training and your pup likes to hit the end of the leash at a run.

Realistically you can expect to get less than a year of hard use out of an inexpensive leash, I know that I’ve killed leashes within 2 months of daily hard use with my foster dogs…

And speaking of Hardware…

Do you need hardware that can’t accidentally come detached? Is your dog a flight risk, or maybe a reactive dog that would get themselves into trouble if the clip failed?

There are many styles of hardware available that can provide some peace of mind if these are concerns. I’ve specifically stocked three styles so dog guardians can have a choice.

three hardware options for dog leashes shown in the palm of an adult hand, including auto locking carabiner, gooseneck clip, and swivel snap bolt.

Leash Style

There are more than just handheld loop handle leashes available. Have you thought about going Hands Free?

Hands free leashes come in two styles:

  1. A Cross-body Leash style is great for a smaller dog, or a larger dog who has been trained not to pull on the leash. This style is convenient and easy to wear, leaving your hands free on your walks and runs. Many trainers love this style of leash for it’s ability to reduce tension on the leash during training sessions, while still keeping your pup anchored safely.
  2. My personal favorite is a Hands Free Waist Leash Belt. These can be used for almost any size dog, and are a good option if you have multiple dogs and want to go hands-free. My own design is a separate belt and interchangeable leash system, but other manufacturers make a continuous belt & leash. Belts have the unique advantage of being able to carry all your gear, from treat pouches to poo bag dispensers to transporting your filled bags to the nearest waste can.
  3. Can’t decide? Convertible leashes can easily switch from cross body to waist belt to a handheld leash.

Still prefer a loop handle leash?

That’s still a great choice, but look for added features that can be of even greater benefit!

Some handheld leashes are available in different lengths, with an added traffic handle to keep your dog close when needed, or an added D-ring to clip your poo bag dispenser on to.

If your dog is a puller, look for a padded handle for a little bit more comfort in your walks.

Leash Lengths don’t always have to be 6’!

I find that the 4 foot leash is my most popular seller, but personally I use an 8’ leash for my daily neighborhood walks. Check to see if your city or jurisdiction has any specific regulations on leash length - mine allows up to 10 feet.

A 15’ leash is my second favorite leash, one that I use for all my hiking adventures. I use a 15’ adjustable long line so that I can keep my dog close as needed if the trails are busy or the footing is a bit loose, and then give him 15 feet of room to range and sniff when it’s safe.

And Finally - Materials

Round or Flat?

Whether you like rope or braided paracord for a round leash, Biothane or webbing for a flat leash, or something completely different is really a personal preference.

I have small hands and prefer a 4-strand braided paracord on a hands free leash belt for100% of my personal walking. This works great for me regardless of how wet it gets in the rain, how dirty it gets when Rowan drags it through the mud, and how much snow it collects when we’re dolphining through snow drifts. I can easily do a thumb lock anywhere on the leash to “tap the breaks” if needed, while having it securely anchored to my belt.

I do use a flat webbing handheld leash at the shelter where I use a thumb lock more frequently to shorten leash lengths, but I tend to use whatever is handy when I’m volunteering because it’s guaranteed to get peed on at least once during my shift!

 two images showing a thumb lock configuration on a leash by looping the leash over your thumb as it is held with the palm open, and then closing your fingers to grip the leash, thus locking the leash around the thumb.

Contact me if you have any questions about choosing the right leash and hardware for you?

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