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Retractable or Traditional – Which is the Best Dog Leash to Use?

by on January 22, 2014 - Leave a Comment

A traditional leash & harness set by The Artful Canine

Choosing the best dog leash for you and your dogs walking needs is just as important as choosing a dog collar. Why? Because your dog’s leash binds you to your dog every time you walk out of the door of your home. It is the most important dog travel tool you will ever own. It is both a security and control mechanism, keeping your dog from harms way, reminding him what he is supposed to do when you are out and about. It also serves as a training tool if it is your first leash with a new dog.

So on to the business of choosing the right one for your dog. It’s my intent to save you from the trial and error that many dog owners go through in their quest to find a good dog leash. So let’s start with your options, of which there are two basic types: Retractable leashes, and traditional leashes.

A retractable dog leash is the most recent invention in dog walking and control. I was, up until about a year ago, a dedicated retractable leash owner. My attraction to this leash was that, with the push of a button, I could like my dog roam up to 15 feet beyond where I stood at any time. I thought this was rather neat, as I envisioned I was giving my dog a little “freedom” from the bond that, at the time, was far more important than I realized. I ignored the constant cord burns from her mad dashes around me when the leash was unlocked. I got accustomed to the constant entanglement when in a stationary position – which became a dance when she would wrap herself around me while I went into my “step up, step out, lift arm overhead and pirouette” routine – one that I know you have probably witnessed another retractable owner doing with their dog. Concerning though is how retractable leashes cause injury to small children who are unable to get out of the cords way. After many leash scars and stumbles onto cement sidewalks, I decided retractable leashes are good for one thing only: rainy, cold or hot days when I don’t want to walk the dog. If I had a fenced-in yard and doggy door, I wouldn’t own one at all! However if you have only one dog and are good with controlling a cord lock, a retractable may be the right choice for you.

My failed experience with a retractable leash led to my discovery of traditional dog leashes. Hmmm, maybe dog trainers are on to something here? There are so many options to a traditional dog leash. They vary widely in length, material, and width. They are expandable, so as your canine family grows, you can add accessories (like a coupler, which is a piece that allows you to attach two dogs to a single leash). And many leashes are washable! I love this fact, as a retractable gets pretty dirty after a while, and require a bit of time and effort to clean up.

When considering a traditional leash, think carefully about how you and your dog interact when traveling together. Do you need tight control over your dog on walks or getting in and out of cars? Then a shorter length would be a good choice. Is your dog a well-behaved stroller? Then a longer length would work well, allowing him to walk a comfortable distance in front or behind you. Does your dog need to mark a lot? Well, maybe she (yes, girls mark too) needs an even longer leash so it’s not happening on the sidewalk or under your feet. What material do you prefer? Something masculine and natural like leather, or something colorful with personality like a cotton or nylon dog leash? What about style? As you can see, the choices are numerous. The most important feature to me was the fact that I could buy coordinating leashes and dog collars, allowing me to dress my dog like a little canine fashionista – something that may be appealing to some of you too.

Whatever type you dog leash you choose, just be sure to think through all of the features, benefits and pitfalls as they relate to your dog. The more suitable the leash, the better your travel and walks will be with your dog.

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