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Types of Dog Leashes

Updated on February 12, 2018
Teeuwynn Woodruff profile image

Teeuwynn has owned dogs her whole life. She has enjoyed the companionship of everything from Pugs to Newfoundlands.

Dog Leashes

Dog leashes are used to control dogs and keep them from straying too far from their human. Leashes are also a crucial part of any dog training program. Leashes are particularly important for dogs to wear when they are in areas with heavy car traffic or where they might easily get lost or otherwise harmed.

The following are all styles of dog leash:

Happy dog with his leash

A happy dog holding his leash.
A happy dog holding his leash. | Source

Standard Leash

The standard leash is 6' long and made of either nylon or leather. If made of leather, the leash can be flat or braided. This length of lead is good for standard walks with your dog as it is long enough to allow your dog some freedom to sniff around and go potty, but keeps the dog in a relatively restricted area. Standard leashes are good choices for many dogs while dog training. The 6' length gives enough room to practice stays and short comes, but isn't long enough for you to lose control.

There are also 4' standard leads. These leashes are best for keeping close control of your dog as they really allow no room for a dog to move around away from their handler. Thus these leads are better when you need to walk in a controlled fashion or in an area with heavy traffic than when you need to take your dog on a potty break.

Leather vs. Nylon? Each material has its supporters. Nylon leashes come in many bright colors and they can be sterilized. If you're spendinging a lot of time around dogs that are more likely to be ill – say an animal shelter – a nylon leash is a better bet than leather because the leather leash can't be sterilized. However, a nylon leash becomes slick fairly easily which can make it harder to grip than a leather leash. Leather leashes are also partcularly durable – which is why they tend to be more expensive than nylon leashes.

Chain Leashes

A chain leash looks just like what it sounds – a series of chain links with a handle and clip. Chain links can be heavy and some people like the look of them – especially when walking with big dogs. There are smaller, more delicate chain leashes available as well.

Some people don't consider chain leashes good for training dogs because they don't give you the type of flexibility or finesse other leash types can give for corrections during training. But other people swear by them.

Types of Leashes

What type of dog leash do you use the most?

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Using a Retractable Leash

Retractable Leash

A Retractable leash is rather like a large measuring tape you clip on your dog's collar. The leash is made of thin nylon that can extend as long as 26'. The leash retracts into the large, usually plastic, handle. The leash normally unspools and retracts as the dog moves, but you can make the leash stop at any length along the way – again like a measuring tape.

Many people enjoy the amount of freedom a retractable leash allows their dogs. You can keep your dog on a leash while still allowing him to run around. It's a way of making your own small dog park on a leash.

However, retractable leashes should never be used on an untrained dog. It is too easy for a dog to dart out into traffic, jump on another dog, or otherwise get into trouble before you can stop him with the break. Additionally, retractable leashes easily get tangled and this can be both troublesome and dangerous as a dog could choke himself if he gets caught up in it. Retractable leashes also are pretty bulky to carry and some people don't like lugging them around.

Dogs, Dogs, Everywhere!

According to the ASPCA there are somewhere between 70 and 80 million dogs in the United States today. Approximately 37-47% of U.S. households own a dog.

Adjustable Leash

An adjustable leash is like a standard nylon or leather leash except that it has a series of metal O-rings or D-rings along its length. You can use these rings to make the leash shorter or longer by clipping to a different ring, giving you different levels of control over your dog. Typical lengths for adjustable leashes are from 4' to 7' long. This adjustability makes these leashes great for when you're transitioning from a place your dog can roam a bit to a more congested environment.

If you're stopping at a coffee shop or other place for a minute the ability to change the length of the adjustable leash makes it a good one to use for tethering your dog in place. As always, though, use your judgement when leaving your dog tethered anywhere and never leave your dog for long.

A Dog's Love

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

-- Josh Billings


A Martingale is a thin nylon leash that is actually a combination of collar and lead in one. The leash has two loops of material – one larger and one smaller. The larger loop is adjustable and goes around your dog's neck. The smaller loop is where the leash portion of the martingale attaches. When a dog pulls on the martingale the smaller loop tightens the larger loop on his neck, but as soon as he stops pulling the loop loosens again. This mechanic keeps the dog from being choked, but also keeps him from slipping the martingale lead.

Using a Martingale Lead

Using Leashes

As a responsible dog owner you have a lot of choices when it comes to what dog leash -- or leashes -- work best for you and your canine companion. Sometimes you have to try a few different options to find the one that works for you.

Leashes keep dogs safe, under control, help with training, and provide a connection between you and your pet.

Take Me For a Walk!

A dog waits with his leash to go for a walk.
A dog waits with his leash to go for a walk. | Source

© 2014 Teeuwynn Woodruff


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