The type of leash and collar an owner uses when walking and training their dog can highly impact the trainability, cooperation, and comfort of your special tail-wagger. However, with so many new collar/leash designs and combinations on the market these days, it can be extremely overwhelming to decide on the best option for your canine. Let’s walk through the basics by highlighting the pros and cons of each alternative so you can decide the best fit for your pet.
Basic Leashes A leash has a simple concept: to keep your canine companion attached to you. Basic leashes are ideal for dogs that do not pull and heel well at their owner’s command. The main components to consider when buying this option are color, line length, and material. Color is clearly your own preference. Typically, a medium length leash is best as it leaves enough room for your dog to comfortably wander in the direction he or she chooses while keeping your dog close enough to properly control him or her. Longer leashes may be ideal for recall work and training exercises, but are unsafe for walks. Soft, flexible leather leashes are a good material choice as they do not hurt the hand when your dog pulls. Cotton leashes can easily be torn if your dog likes to chew the lead and nylon leashes can be uncomfortable for your hand if your dog is a puller.
Martingale A martingale collar is similar to a basic collar except it stays loose when it needs to be and tightens up on the two slides when your dog strains or tries to pull out of the collar. Therefore it is an ideal choice for dogs with narrow heads like greyhounds because it is impossible to slip off the neck or head. The extra loop, or the two slides can be made of fabric or chain material. Because it stays loose most of the time, it can be a more comfortable collar selection for your canine and is highly recommended by dog training professionals.
Flexi® or Retractable Leashes According to Pat Miller, writing for the Woof Report, “invented in Germany, the flexi leash consists of a plastic handle in which a spring-loaded cord is stored.” This is convenient because it allows you to be flexible about the amount of space you allow your dog to roam. However, flexi leashes have been known to snap and break and the plastic handle can be difficult to hold and is easily dropped. If your dog is a puller, these leashes are not recommended as they give you very little control over your dog.
Gentle Leaders® and Haltis® Both Gentle Leaders® and Haltis® are a type of head halter that fits around the dog’s muzzle and behind the ears. As a result, this leash and collar combination gives the handler more control over the dog as the dog must look back at the handler when the leash is pulled. Some dogs’ necks are so strong that snapping or correcting with a basic collar or martingale, yields little, to no results. Head halters can be more effective in correcting a strong-willed dog. On the other hand, if these head halters, specifically the Gentle Leader®, are not fastened correctly, they run the risk of slipping off your dog’s nose.
No Pull Easy Walk Harness™ For canines that strain on the leash to the point of coughing and potentially causing harm to their neck or trachea, the easy walk harness is an excellent solution. Fitted around the shoulders and chest, no pressure is forced on the neck. The leash fastens to a ring by the chest rather than by the back, the typical fashion for most harnesses. This provides greater control as the dog must turn to face the owner when the leash is pulled back.
Prong Collars For extremely strong dogs that are difficult to manage, prong collars may be a necessary investment. These collars are sometimes incorrectly referred to as “pinch collars” but if they are put on correctly, no pinching occurs because the ends of the prongs are blunted. The prong collar should be placed higher up on the dog’s neck. Links may need to be added or removed to find the proper size. It is imperative that you learn the proper way to affix a prong collar so seek a dog training professional’s help if you are unsure.
The leash you chose depends on the demeanor, size, health condition, and comfort of both you and your fuzzy friend.