Which is the Right Leash for Your Puppy or Dog

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Which is the Right Leash for Your Puppy or Dog

by Aidan Bindoff

Which is the right leash for your puppy or dog? With so many to choose from, picking a leash for your new puppy or dog can be confusing. There are really only a few things you need to know, and when you know them, selecting a leash for your puppy or dog is really quite simple!

The best general purpose leash is about 4' (120cm) long, and well made. Look for quality stitching, and a material that will not burn or chafe your hands. Leather is excellent quality and very long lasting if cared for properly. I prefer a cotton/synthetic webbing, the softer the better.

A 4' leash will not encourage bad habits. If you follow a pulling dog, that dog will learn to pull. There is no need for a 'training' collar or reprimands. Any flat collar or harness is fine so long as you are consistent and do not follow a pulling dog. Your dog should ideally walk by your side and not stray too far from that position, a longer leash allows your dog too much freedom.

That is not to say that we cannot give our dogs free time to explore on leash, and when we do give the signal, a longer leash is appropriate. A 'flexi' style retractable leash is great in this situation, although a very strong dog may damage a retractable leash. An aggressive dog is probably not safe on a retractable leash unless the leash is very good quality.

If you plan to do any tracking with your dog, then a good quality 30' (10m) leash is a good investment. Again, I prefer a soft cotton webbing although there are lightweight climbing ropes which do not get heavy when wet and will not chafe or burn. Two knots should be tied, one at the end to stop the line from running out and one about 6' from the end let you know when you are about to run out of line.

I also use my 30' tracking line when I am just ambling through the forest and have signalled to my dog that it is ok to explore within that length of line. Just putting that leash on is signal enough.

A 30' tracking line is also excellent for teaching recalls and stays when you are not in a safe off-leash training area.

The fittings on the end of the leash need to be very good quality. A strong snap-style fitting is best, as it is easy to use and generally trouble free. If you and your dog spend a lot of time at the beach, they will rust out and get jammed with sand unfortunately. I had a leash made with a brass diver's snap. Sand does not get caught in the spring and it does not rust, however it does not have a very strong spring and has come undone by accident. I think it's probably better to just wash out a good quality snap with fresh water and apply a little water dispersant (CRC or WD40) after a visit to the beach.

Cotton or synthetic leashes will need to be washed occassionally, which will greatly enhance their life. By the same token, don't store them in direct sunlight. The same is true of leather leashes. An occassional rub down with leather preservative is all that a leather leash requires.

If you have a dog who enjoys biting at the leash then training can be employed to bring this behavior under control. I favour deliberately teaching a dog to play tug with the leash and putting the behavior on cue, that way I develop control over the behavior and can use it as a reward for other behavior.

A quicker solution to biting the leash is to get a 4' metal chain leash, which is not nearly so enjoyable to bite on. Get one with a snap which attaches to a normal flat collar, some come as choker chains. If you are competent with a choker chain (check chain), then go right ahead and use it as such, but most people are not nearly so competent as they might imagine and would be better served learning positive reinforcement training methods. Positive reinforcement traning methods are far less likely to damage your relationship with your dog, your dog's spine and trachea, and your dog's enjoyment of working and walking.

Aidan Bindoff is Editor of http://www.PositivePetzine.com, a free resource for people training their own dog. Each edition features easy-to-use information on a particular behavior or problem behavior. Training methods are based on positive reinforcement techniques.

Aidan Bindoff - EzineArticles Expert Author

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