The Best Leash for a Dog Walk

By Robert Cabral, dog trainer and member of the Wag! Advisory Board   

When it comes to building a bond with your dog, walking is among the best things you can do. There are two things you need — one is a collar (or harness) and the other is a leash. I’ve covered collars in another post, so let’s talk about leashes.

I assume that thousands of years ago when humans first domesticated the wolf into a dog, they used some sort of leash to keep the “dogs” from running away. And my guess is they used a fixed-length lead that attached around the dog’s neck.

The best leash? A fixed-length leash

Even now, I believe a fixed-length leash is still the best type. In fact, with few exceptions, it’s the only one I recommend.

A fixed-length leash gives you complete control because your dog's only a short distance from you. You also know where your dog is at all times — and he knows where you are!

A fixed-length leash attaches to your dog’s collar or harness on one end and has a loop or handle at the other end to put your hand through for a safe leash grip. This is as simple as it gets!  Ideally, your dog will then walk on a loose leash, and you'll both enjoy the walk.

Tips for walking with a fixed-length leash

If you want your dog to avoid something or change direction, a fixed-length leash allows you to quickly and easily pass the information down the leash to your dog. Here are my tips for walking dogs on a fixed-length leash.

  • Keep the leash on the shorter side for daily walks. I use a four-foot braided leather leash for my dogs. As I mentioned, walks are a huge bonding experience and I think it’s hard to bond with — and control — your dog if they are six or more feet ahead of you. Using a shorter leash means your dogs are closer to you, so you can walk with your dog.

  • Avoid flimsy or frayed leashes, as well as collars and harnesses, for the dog’s safety.

  • Avoid attaching poop bags or other “distractions” to your leash. Instead, put the bags in your pocket, taking them out only when needed.

  • If you’re training your dog, you can opt for a longer leash, but no more than six feet. The sooner you can get your dog to walk close to you, the better for both of you.

Other kinds of leashes — good or bad?

Walk into a pet supplies store, and you can be overwhelmed with leash options. That’s one reason to focus on fixed-length leashes. So what about these other common types?

  • Retractable leashes — Seeing dogs walk on these types of leashes is very frustrating for me because it can be dangerous for both dog and walker. It’s more difficult to exert control when a dog is 10 or more feet away, at the end of a retractable leash. The distance makes it easier for dogs to accidentally wander into the street or get into a disagreement with another dog.

    In fact, there are many stories of injuries to people and dogs from the improper use of a retractable leash. To learn more about the dangers of retractable leashes, watch this video.

  • Bungee leashes — These are usually made of nylon tubular webbing with a bungee inside so the dog can pull the elastic, but not pull the leash. They create a pulling stimulation in the dog and it can actually unteach your dog to want to be next to you during a walk. Best to avoid such leashes.

Give your dog the pleasure of walking with you on your walks. For this reason and many others, a fixed-length leash is the best leash. The closer your dog is to you, the safer the walk — and the better the bonding experience.