Which Dog Lead Or Harness Should You Use?
The opportunity for off-lead exercise is becoming a rare commodity, especially in crowded inner cities and even some parks and beaches, where increasingly our dogs are banned or are bound by restrictions. Yet it has been proven that the best and most natural way for our dogs to keep fit is to run free. But if you’re unlucky enough to have to walk in a dog-unfriendly area or you don’t trust your dog off the lead for whatever reason, then you have to look at what is the best type of lead, for you and your dog. A task is made much easier and enjoyable by using the right equipment even for a London dog walker like myself and there are quite a few different types of leads, collars, and harnesses.
The cheapest and most common is the nylon lead. These come in various colors, lengths, and thicknesses and are washable, so ideal for dogs that like to get muddy. Leather leads, again with varying colours and sizes are more expensive and longer-lasting, providing the leather doesn’t get regularly wet. Water and leather don’t mix well; the leather will split and stiffen as the natural oils are stripped out but you can buy special leather conditioning products. A leather lead that is taken care of will last a lifetime.
Chain leads are strong and durable but may hurt your hands if the dog pulls. The sound of a rattling chain spooks some dogs.
Some people swear by retractable or elastic leads and there are pros and cons to both these. Retractable leads have been known to cause injuries in various ways to dog walkers, such as lacerated or fractured fingers when grabbing the cord. The upside is that both retractable and elastic leads allow a dog more freedom to roam than conventional leads but some say they encourage the dog to pull and/or ignore commands.
The other option is to buy a harness. These are said to be more comfortable for the dog than a normal collar and lead and they avoid damage to the dog’s neck. It is easier to use a harness to secure your dog on a car journey; a safer option than having him jumping around while you’re driving. However a longhaired dog could get matted fur or irritated skin from the harness rubbing, especially if worn for long periods. A harness may encourage pulling, as it’s more difficult to correct this habit than it would be using a conventional lead, though you can get no-pull harnesses. These work by having the lead connection ring located in the centre of the chest-strap so if Fido pulls, he’s gently guided back to you.
There are many options and a careful, informed choice will ensure happy walks for you and your dog.