Choosing the Best Leash for an Enjoyable Walk with your Dog
One of the most popular ways to keeping a dog fit is the good old walk. Whether you are brand new to being a pet owner, or you’ve just introduced a new furry family member to your existing canine pack, mastering the art of dog walking is usually a “work in progress”. In the first of a two part series, Dr. Eloise Bright shares some tips on how to select the best leash to ensure an enjoyable walk with your pet.
Choosing the Right Leash
Walking is an opportunity for your dog to take in all the outside smells and explore the outside world. It is completely understandable that they might want to move around quickly and zigzag all over the place. The leash that you use can definitely provide better control so that you are walking with your dog, not against them. Some things to consider when choosing a leash include:
Avoid the flexi-lead – Also known as retractable leashes, flexi-leads can allow your dog to roam free at will, but can often break with larger dogs and provide little safety for smaller dogs should you need them back by your side. Retractable leashes can also be dangerous if the owner is not constantly aware of the slack in the line. This is especially true if your walk takes you near traffic and the dog can inadvertently move in the way of passing vehicles before the line can be retracted and locked.
Forget chain or prong collars – Also known as choke chains, these collars, meant to provide better control, can actually choke your dog. They can cause breathing difficulties, increase the pressure in the eye (they have been associated with eye prolapse in certain breeds), and constrict the vessels, nerves and the esophagus in the delicate neck area. They should never be used. Many pet owners use these in the hope it will help their dog to ‘heel’. A dog on a choke chain will usually pull harder to try and relieve the pain and without training won’t actually stop pulling unless you train them to heel appropriately.
Instead of a choke collar, spend the time working with your dog so that they can learn the rules of a safe and enjoyable walk.
Use a harness – Using a chest harness to walk an excitable dog on a leash is a smart approach. Harnesses generally make it easier for you to remain in control, without being painful to the dog when you need to pull them in. Importantly, the harness does not pull on the neck of the dog.
Try a head halter – These are not suitable for dogs with neck problems, but are an option for other dogs and can lead to quick results. They work on the same principle as a head halter you would use to lead a horse. If your dog tries to pull in front, because the lead is attached under the chin, the head is turned back towards you. They soon learn that the only way they can look ahead is to walk by your side. They work brilliantly for even big dogs. Obviously, be aware of the amount of pressure you put on the leash as you don’t want to jerk your dog’s head back and forth too forcefully.
With 7 years of small animal practice, Dr.Eloise Bright came to Love That Pet as animal lover and advocate for all animals from baby birds to stray kittens. With two sons in tow and hubby, Eloise mainly practices in Sydney, Australia. Meet her and the dog, Duster, and cat, Jimmy, on her profile page.
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