Choosing the Best Leash for an Enjoyable Walk with your Dog

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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.


Dr EloiseWith 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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  1. I love Ruffwear flat leashes because they have so many options, including a very short leash (by grabbing a different handle than usual) for places when you need your dog very close. And, I agree – chest harnesses are great! None of my dogs have ever accepted head halters, even when we use a very gradual positive introduction to them. It doesn’t matter – with training, the harness works very well.
    KB recently posted…Happy Christmas!My Profile

  2. we avoid that flexi-beasts they are dangerous, specially for big doggies. we use a K9 harness when we walk “offroad” and a “blood tracking collar” for all other reasons, because its padded and wider than common collars :o)
    easyweimaraner recently posted…easyblog CRAZY CHRISTMASMy Profile

  3. Hi Y’all,

    Oh good point about those flex leads! My Human, who I could easily drag behind me like a sled, if I so choose, ended up in the hospital with a concussion, among other injuries, because of someone else walking their little dog on a flex lead.

    The little dog was on a flex lead and I was wearing a leather lead on a leather collar. The little dog was carrying on so my Human and I detoured into the parking area of the rest stop. Although the humans were between us dogs, the little one managed to dart out into the parking area. What happened next was too fast for memory.

    My Human ended up unconscious in the gutter of a rest area parking lot and I was loose in an Interstate rest area. Fortunately the man, whose flex led dog caused the accident, caught hold of my leash…not that I was going anywhere! I was trying to lick and paw my Human awake!

    Sorry to be so wordy, but those things are dangerous! It’s like driving on cruise control on a winding narrow mountain road or in heavy traffic! If you’ve got an ounce of common sense, don’t use a flex lead, especially in public areas!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Looking Back at Keepin’ Fit in 2014…My Profile

    • Yikes – that sounds awful Hawk. I’m glad your human is okay. They can be dangerous. We use them, but only when we walk in the morning on the farmland below our house where it’s just open space and no other dogs.
      mkob recently posted…Choosing the Best Leash for an Enjoyable Walk with your DogMy Profile

  4. oh boy Hawk that is terrible, I’m glad your human is ok. I don’t like flexi leads either, people just put them out and leave them go where ever. I like the easy walk harnesses. Have a great Friday.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Odd’s And End’s In FitnessMy Profile

  5. Everyone has their collar or harness and leash of choice. We mix it up and depending on the situation decide which leashes to use. Not everything works the same for all dogs, so you do need to figure out what works best for you.
    Emma recently posted…Fitting in Fitness in 2015My Profile

  6. No flexi leads! I couldn’t agree more. Years ago I almost was severed in half (gross,I know) but someone holding an out of control flexi lead!
    Diane recently posted…A Fit Dog Christmas WalkMy Profile

  7. I’m also not a fan of the flexi leashes…besides offering little control over your dog, you can seriously hurt yourself. I always cringe when I encounter someone walking their 60 + lb dog on one of those horrible leashes. Add the distraction of a call on their cell phone while simultaneoulsy holding a burning cigarette to the equation, and there goes your recipe for disaster.

    Being a dog walker, I have used and use a variety of different leashes & collar combinations, head collars being one of them. I like the british version, called “Halti”, best, as it has a padded noseband.

    I have been introduced to training (or prong) collars, and agree that they can do a lot of harm when not properly used. The most common mistake people make is attaching the collar around the dog’s neck, where it will most definitely do a lot of harm. If using this type of collar, it needs to sit at the very top of the neck, right behind the ears.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Being Active in NC: NC Museum Of Art (Museum Park)My Profile

  8. I really like my cotton leashes. They are the most comfortable in my hand. Also, most of the time I do use harnesses on my girls, except for when we go to places where they will be mostly off leash and just need to be on from the parking lot to the trails, park or beach. In that situation, I will attach the leash to the collar.
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Zoo Lights!!!My Profile

  9. I love a post on choosing the best leash. I think it’s really important.

    I have a leather leash for regular, daily walks–it’s soft and fits nicely in my hand. For wet days or when we’ll be playing in the creek, I have a hemp leash that dries quickly.

    At Chez Honey, it’s all about the function. No fancy colors or designs for us.
    Pamela recently posted…Be Humble With AnimalsMy Profile

  10. A good leash/and or harness makes a huge difference that’s for sure. I was given great advice when choosing out last harness (Freedom No Pull) and it’s made our walks much more controlled and enjoyable. I even trust others to walk my dog Laika when she’s using the right harness 🙂
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…19 Simple Dog Treat Recipes For BeginnersMy Profile

  11. We’ve used a lot of different leashes and harnesses. I no longer use flexi leads either, and I really like zero shock leashes from Ezy Dog for walking dogs who pull sometimes. We used head harnesses in the past with our beagle who really pulled, but for the most part I’ve started to like harnesses that hook at the chest the best. Really though, something different works best for each dog. Sometimes you have to try a lot of different things before you hit on what does work best, and one size certainly doesn’t fit all.
    Jan K recently posted…Sepia Saturday – Christmas FunMy Profile

  12. I agree about the flex leash but totally disagree about the chain collar or prong collars. For some dogs they are the right choice. We use them on all of our dogs. In my opinion harnesses give little control over a dog and they can pull out of them just as they can with a head halter. My advice is to get a good leather leash and a good chain collar (or prong collar) and learn how to use them correctly. They are training tools and as such can be very valuable if used correctly. Any leash and collar can be an issue if not used properly. A dog who gets free of a harness or head halter or flat collar and is in danger of being lost or hit by a car can be a problem for a dog compared to a chain collar that has been used on all kinds of dogs successfully for many years.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Warm Weather Pheasant HuntMy Profile

    • I think the key here is knowing how to use it. You are experienced and know how and when to use the collar to support your training. I think too many people use them just for forced control. I hate when I see these slender women with BIG dogs thinking that a prong collar is going to solve their control problem. It’s not about the collar…
      mkob recently posted…Resolve to Move Your Mutt RecapMy Profile

      • But that harness is not going to solve a control problem either and I have seen people be dragged by large dogs wearing a harness. It is about the training. I guess my point is that I wish people focused more on the training and less on the tools used for the training. I was not born knowing how to use the tools. I had to learn how to use them as part of our training program with emphasis on the training.
        2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Warm Weather Pheasant HuntMy Profile

        • Agree with you 100%…folks are always looking for the quick fix, but really it comes down to hard work.
          mkob recently posted…Resolve to Move Your Mutt RecapMy Profile

  13. Harley has many leashes, but a retractable one is not one of them! I’m still using his “Spindrift” leash for all of our neighborhood, exercise walks. The various different grips work wonders whether it’s another dog and I need better control or we’re at a corner and a motorcycle rides by (he goes nuts) and then I love when we’re in the park – I can allow him a little extra distance because of the bungee inside the material. Love it!
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…DRIVE-THROUGH WINDOW ADDICT | MONDAY MISCHIEFMy Profile

  14. Good tips. I recently bought two EzyDog leashed from Love That Pet to go with their EzyDog harnesses. We have had a much more comfortable walking experience since using this gear 🙂

    They both have harnesses since Killa’s neck is so small she’d slip out of a collar and Chowski is a Pug and harnesses are better for their breathing. Being small I don’t have to worry about being pulled by a large forceful dog although we are working on our leash etiquette 🙂
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  15. Thanks for sharing this. It is so important to choose the perfect leash for your dog. This way, you don’t have to worry about them breaking free and running away.
    Brittney recently posted…The Costs of Owning a Dog?My Profile

  16. I’ve had the most success with using harnesses on my dog. I have to be sure that my smaller dog’s harness is on properly and securely because she wiggled out of it once. Thanks so much for sharing!

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