Dog leads: Not so simple an item or a choice as you might think.

Dog Leads: Not as simple an item or a choice as  you might think.

After coming back from a walk where a friend was knocked flying by an out of control dog on a lead, I decided to post an overdue post on dog leads.  The dog above was friendly, it didn’t mean to hurt my friend, but the end result was the same as if an aggressive dog had run into it at speed; an innocent person ended up hurt on the ground.

So, My Thought-Bubble is: Dog Leads.

Or rather Clayton’s dog leads: those current trendy long leads. I call these metres long leads “Pony leads”.

They might be great for leading a pony, but are no use for a dog in-training or on the going-out or the returning-from a walk. Owners clip these overly long leads onto the dog’s collar, then proceed to wrap and wrap the excess length multiple times around their own hands and arms. And then expect that the poor dog will have a clue as to what the signals coming down such a twisted long lead are actually meant to mean.

What ends up happening, is the dog gives up trying to interpret and does what they now want; which usually results in the owners being pulled off their feet from a standing start, shouting a barrage of commands at the dog and all the while the dog is out-front and out-of-control.

At that point, I usually quietly step in with a proper length dog lead and the chaos just stops…right there and then.

Dog Leads are for walking your dog, not for walking a horse.

You need to fit you and your dog to the proper lead length.

My personal belief is most dogs need TWO different leads-one short, one long.

With obvious exceptions* the old rule of:

“2 feet* (of lead) between hand/heart (owners) & head/heart(dogs)” still holds true for dog leads.

You want the signals down that lead to be clear, precise and immediate. You do not want to have to be yelling and all the while, unwrapping metres of lead from your hands, before you then can direct your dog to move where and how you need it to be.

The first lead obeys the ‘2ft- rule’ and is the shortest lead possible to keep your dog comfortably close to your side.This is the Business lead. This is the lead you walk the dog to and from the park on. This is the lead you take your dog To the Vet or to the Dog Groomer or To Doggy Day-care or to the Local Markets and down the town etc.

This short lead allows you to walk your dog, not the other way around…

This short lead allows you to judge and quickly react to any potential dangers to you and your dog and from you and your dog. This lead stops your dog going around a blind corner before you, only to discover a potential hazard/danger is already happening, because of the disconnect in time and distance between you and your ‘pony-lead’ loose dog.

This is the lead by which your dog learns what you want from it when you want it.

So, the short lead takes your dog on a walk with you. Spend this time focused on your dog, talking to it and enjoy each other’s company. This is your shared time.

When you get to your destination of an open park or beach etc-this is now your dog’s time to be a dog. Unless you have a superbly voice-recall trained dog-this is now when you can fit anything from the ‘pony-lead” up to an 11m tracking lead onto to your dog, so it can safely roam far and sniff wide to its heart content.

Dogs need to be able to exercise their muscles and their scent skills and their heart every single day. The longer leads allow less trained or behaviour-issue dogs to get up a good arc of exercise on their muscles and scent skills, yet still be legally restrained and recallable.

The really long recall leads need quieter, low traffic areas to avoid entanglement; you need to pick your times and your places (ie a forest is not a good place to use a recall long line) and all is well.

If you want to see a super-long recall lead in action: check out either of Luna’s Joy videos on our YouTube channel.

Once finished, for the return journey home, the dog goes back on the short lead; they are now back beside you, walking with you and being with you, in your shared time.

Really, it is no different to driving kids to the playground or beach. We strap the kids in safely in the car, they are not running wild around the car as you drive there. Once there, they are free to be kids and exercise muscles etc. But once the play is over, its back in the car with proper restraints for the journey home. The short leads are the safety restrain lead-the recall lead is the play lead etc.

Your dog’s leads are their walking gear:

Ensure their leads allows them to safely experience: positive interactions with you and to exercise muscles, scent and their brain.

Ensure you fit and use your dog’s leads as properly as you fit and use your own walking gear.


Exceptions to 2 ft lead rule:

#Obviously if an owner is super tall and/or they have a tiny toy dog, then the 2-foot rule doesn’t apply. All we ask is that they fit the shortest length of lead that allows them and that pet to walk in a normal stance and pace.

* 2 feet=60.96cm, which is just over half a metre in length

#If using a Halti head collar: Ensure the lead length used allows for a gentle slack curve on the lead between hand and collar. Otherwise, a taut lead will mean that the collar is continuously re-correcting all behaviour, not just the undesirable ones.

If you are confused about how to use a Halti, we properly fit any Halti purchased from us. There is no extra charge for this service, but you do need to advance reserve a nurse appt slot to have this done.

Aggressive dogs will need their own special time slot: please ensure you alert the staff of any health and safety issues your dog could present to the nurse. A vet clinic is still a work-place and OH&S rules are the same for all vet staff as for any other worker or workplace.

For information on harness types, read Dr Aine’s post: