With so many leads on the market, and countless opinions on them all, choosing the right lead for your dog can be a tough task! Leads are an important training tool, and they’re used on a daily basis, so it matters which one you pick. Whether you’re looking for style, function, or performance, there’s a lead for every dog.
What to consider when choosing a lead
We use leads primarily for safety – to keep our dogs safe on walks and protect them from any potential harm. So, when you’re looking at leads, safety should always be the first consideration! It’s also important to think about the age, breed, temperament, and behaviour of your dog as well. No one knows your dog better than you do, so it’s important to find one that matches your needs.
It’s also a good idea to assess the durability and comfort of the lead, for both you and your pup. You’ll want to choose a lead that lasts! Think about when the lead will be used as you may find that the best course of action is to select multiple leads for specific activities. Going on a hike is very different from walking through a city centre and likely requires a different type of lead.
Different types of leads
If you’ve been out for a walk with your dog, you’ve probably noticed the array of different lengths, colours, materials and styles found among leads. Here’s an overview of the most common types:
Standard leads are the most commonly used, typically between 1.5 to 2 meters in length. It’s a good middle ground lead, as it’s you have plenty of control and the dog still has some space to roam. Standard leads usually have enough length for loose-lead walking, but may not be ideal if your dog is a strong puller. They come in a variety of materials and styles as well!
All leads can be used for training, but some designs are better suited to the task. A few examples include: extra-long leads, slip leads, and the Halti variety training leads. Training leads are usually designed to serve a certain purpose, which helps with focused training. For example, long leads are good for practicing recall and working on commands, whereas slip leads are effective for training dogs that like to pull on a walk.
These leads are great for when you need to temporarily shorten or lengthen your dog’s lead. They can be effective for training, and are a versatile go-to if you like to change up your dog walks. Similar to the adjustable leads are the elastic bungee leads – which extend when your dog pulls and reduce the shock on your arm or shoulder.
If your pooch has a flair for fashion, there’s a lead for that! Pet accessories have become more and more popular over the years, so it’s no surprise that fashion retailers have hopped on the trend. You can blend purpose and pretty by spoiling your dog with a designer dog lead, like this one from Prada.
5. Multi-purpose and special leads
There are plenty of specialist leads available too, such as: multi-dog leads, seatbelt safety leads, traffic handle leads, hands-free leads, and more. These types of leads are specifically designed to serve a purpose, and are good to keep in mind if you’re ever in need of one.
6. Flexi leads
Flexi or retractable leads are popular with new and/or inexperienced dog owners, since they seem to provide the best of both worlds – control and freedom. However, these leads are most commonly cited in lead related injuries or accidents. The thin, retractable cord is easily snapped by strong dogs, and poses a threat if wrapped around the dog or handler’s body. They are not always reliable, and they teach dogs that it’s okay to pull on the lead, because they’re then rewarded with more length and freedom. We don’t recommend using flexi leads as they can be dangerous for the dogs in your care, as well as the people or animals in their surroundings.
Different lead materials
Not only are the length and function of the lead important in the decision-making process, but the material is worth some contemplation too! Dog leads come in a variety of fabrics and textiles, and each has its merits.
Nylon leads are probably the most popular; they’re affordable, easy to clean, and come in an array of colours. The wider the lead, the more comfortable they are for handling, and can be made reflective – perfect for early morning or late evening walks! If your dog has a habit of chewing the lead, nylon might not be the best option, and it’s not always the softest or most flexible material, but it makes for an effective lead all the same!
Leather is notoriously lovely to hold, and if looked after well, it can be particularly long lasting. Leather leads may be difficult to clean, and require some water protection treatment, but are perfectly acceptable for walks around the town.
Gaining popularity in recent years, leads made from mountain climbing rope are comfortable and durable. Rope provides a little bit more give and flexibility, which may protect your arm and shoulder should your dog tug a little too quickly. These leads can also have reflective fibres woven in, and are a good long-lasting option.
Biothane is a relatively new material on the lead scene – it’s designed to mimic the look and feel of leather, while being waterproof and wipe clean! They’re durable and lightweight, and a great option if your dog likes to take the lead through sand or mud.
Chain leads are typically recommended to owners whose dogs have a habit of chewing their leads, as the chains don’t feel good on the dog’s teeth. They are, however, quite heavy, cumbersome, and uncomfortable to grab mid-lead, which makes them less ideal for daily walks.
Advice from the We Love Pets network
Our network of professional dog walkers and pet care experts have some favourites when it comes to choosing leads, read their advice below:
“The lead is many things, it can be a form of management or control, a training device, a safety measure, and for some dogs, security. When choosing a lead, I want something sturdy that doesn’t hurt my hands, is strong enough that we both feel safe, ensures I have control at all times, and is long enough to allow freedom for the dog. Personally, I prefer a rope lead of a reasonable length for everyday walks and a long line when training. I avoid any type of extendable lead because they tend to break easily, do not allow for enough control, and are hard for other dogs or children to see – often resulting in injuries.”
Chelsey, resident WLP Vet Nurse
“I use the Halti double ended training leads because you can clip onto the harness and collar, make them longer and shorter, or use them as a mini longline for testing recall. They last forever and are well made. My dog has had his for 5 years now!”
Lorna, We Love Pets Wigan director and former RSPCA Inspector
“I like the Halti double clip leads because you can lengthen them for country walks, shorten them for road walking, and they can be used on dual clip harnesses for more control.
Ruffwear Crag is another lovely lead that can be used in hand or around the waist if you are on tricky terrain and need your hands free, or if you just want to work on your loose lead walking.
Non-stop Dogwear also have a great new lead that has a tightening carabiner, instead of a normal clip, for extra safety that is beneficial with the current level of dog thefts.”
Amy, We Love Pets Reading director and professional dog trainer
Some of our dog walker helpful tips for choosing leads and using them on walks:
- It’s a good idea to replace and upgrade your leads as your puppy matures
- If you think your lead might get smelly or dirty, opt for an odor-resistant or easily washable material
- Walking in the dark? Try a lead with reflective material for extra saftey
- Be sure to check your leads frequently for signs of damage, such as sun wear, tears, and fraying
- If your dog wants to chew their lead, try using a chain lead or a material they’re less likely to bite
- When out for a walk, never wrap the lead around your hand – if your dog were to suddenly pull, it could injure your hand
Check out We Love Pets Managing Director, Ryan White, explaining how to avoid lead-induced injuries here.
Although the diversity of leads available may present an overwhelming choice, it also means that there’s a perfect lead to suit your dog’s unique needs. We recommend doing your own research, and speaking to a trusted professional with any questions. Our We Love Pets branches are always happy to help, so feel free to get in touch with any dog-related queries! You can find your local branch here.