How to choose a dog lead, collar and restraints

Probably the most important dog accessories you need to procure are a lead (leash), collar and possibly restraints. However, it can be overwhelming to make a choice when you are bombarded by the mass selection that awaits you at local pet stores.

Lead

Essentially there are two different style leads that you can buy for your dog. These include: 

  • Standard lead – is 6ft. long, (you can also purchase 3-4ft), used specifically for training and is suitable for every dog breed, regardless of the dog’s size. It allows you to have control over your dog.

Retractable lead – A retractable leash comes in different sizes to accommodate different dogs. They generally have a plastic handle and are comfortable to hold. However, they are not ideal for training, but they are a great way to let your dog roam freely, while still keeping you in control, when out for a nice walk.

When purchasing the lead you need to think about; material, length, width, type of a snap hook and functionality are the main factors which you should take into consideration when buying a dog leash.

 Material

There are different types of leashes: nylon, leather and chain. Nylon leashes are a perfect low budget solution. Their main feature is water resistance, so you can use them no matter what the weather is outside. Nylon leashes are also great for using in high humidity areas. They may however hurt your hands if you have a large powerful dog who likes to pull (at least until trained correctly so they don’t pull). Leather leashes can also be used in any weather as well but will require you to apply leather conditioner from time to time to keep their initial look and prolong their usage life. Do not wash leather leashes in water. Also leather leashes will last longer if they have as few sewn parts as possible.

Nylon leashes do not stretch at all while leather leashes have a natural stretch ratio which should be minimal for good quality material. Both materials are very strong, so any leash will be great for handling large and powerful dogs.

I personally wouldn’t recommend a chain lead, however, they are available and if your dog has the bad habit of biting or chewing on their leash you may consider buying a chain leash which should discourage your dog from chewing it, until you have trained him not too. WARNING, keep an eye on your dog so they don’t hurt their teeth.

 Length The shortest leashes are 10 inch long pull tabs. They are used for taking a dog out of a car, for better control and off leash training. If you want such a training item, choose this

A longer leash, 6ft (standard) or 3 -4 ft long, is used for walking and training your dog. It provides more freedom but offers you less control.

If you want to involve your pet into tracking activity or an aid in teaching your dog to come to you when called from a distance, choose the longest leash (around 27-33 ft).

Width The width of a leash will affect its weight and strength. For small dogs a good width may be 1/2 inch wide. Large powerful dogs require leather or nylon leashes that are 3/4 inch wide. Wider leashes are made with bigger snap hooks which make the items stronger and heavier

 Snap Hook The hook on the leash is what actually connects the leash to the dog’s collar.  This is the true workhorse point of the leash so you want one that is strong, durable and that has a mechanism that stops it from opening accidentally.  As well, you want the hook to be easily openable so you can detach and attach the leash quickly.

Functionality What are the best leashes for every dog activity:

  1. Dog training. Consider buying a 6ft long and 3/4 wide leash. It should be durable to withstand excessive overload.
  2. Tracking. Choose a long leash around 30 ft long.
  3. City walking. A strong 2-3 ft leash will be the best for daily use. It should have a comfy handle not to rub your palms.
  4. Dog show. Thin, elegant and don’t distract attention from your dog.

Walking several pets. There are so-called ‘couplers’, the leashes that are meant for walking of two or three dogs at the same time.

Collar

When considering a dog collar, you need to ensure that you choose one that provides your dog with comfort. Keep the following in mind:

Size

You should never buy a collar without knowing the measurements of your canine. Take a long tape measure or piece of string and measure the neck of your dog. Once you have the measurement, extend it by 2-3 inches to give your dog plenty of room, so the collar isn’t too tight or too loose that it can be pulled from your dog’s head.

To make sure the collar you are interested in buying fits your dog’s neck, place the collar on him and insert two fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar. If you can easily insert your fingers the collar is a perfect fit.

Quality and comfort

There are plenty of collars on the market but not all of them are comfortable for your dog, or durable. Therefore, make sure you get a collar that won’t pull, catch or rub at your dog’s fur. In addition, make sure the collar isn’t made of heavy material that will be too much weight for your dog’s neck. Finally, you need to make sure that the collar will be strong enough for training when you clutch your dog.

Fashion

Collars and leads come in different colors and styles. Therefore, if you’re into fashion, you can purchase a matching set that features the specific colors and patterns you like. Or you can keep it basic. Just make sure you don’t substitute quality for style.

In addition, know what styles suits your dog. However, regardless of your taste in fashion, your main goal is to make sure you and your dog are comfortable

 Choker chain

Use a choke chain on your pet sparingly, for example when walking or training, never leave it on permanently. If you’re going to use a choke chain you must learn how to place the choke chain on properly, and remove it immediately after use.

You assemble the choke chain correctly, before you place it on your dog.

Hold one of the chains end rings and push the chain through the ring. The choke chain should slide easily in the ring.

  1. You have now formed the straight chain into a loop circle with both end rings touching.
  2. There is a correct and incorrect way to place the chain. Before you attach the leash, look closely at the loop you have formed with the chain. One end ring has chain going through it, the other does not. The end ring without the chain going through is the end where you want to attach the leash.
  3. Place the dog’s nose and head through the loop, so that the end ring, without chain going through it, is on the top of the dog’s neck.
  4. Look at the choke chain on the dog, and gently pull on the end ring taking up all of the slack in the chain. Release the chain. It should immediately release and take all pressure off the dog’s neck.

This is important so make certain that the end ring without the chain going through it lies on top of the dog’s neck. A correctly placed choke chain releases pressure on the dog’s neck immediately when slackened.

Pull and release the chain lightly

Use the choke chain by pulling and releasing. Jerk the leash to apply a quick pull and choke, then release. If you notice that the chain is constantly tight on the dog’s neck, remove the chain and replace it properly.

Vehicle restraints

To keep you dog safe in the care it’s a good idea to purchase a high quality easy to fit car harness designed to restrain your dog from moving freely in a vehicle.

You need a restraint that is fully adjustable around neck and girth for optimal fit. The harness should also feature a wide padded chest support for comfort and safety. The seatbelt attachment needs to be adjustable for length, clips directly into your car seatbelt fastener, and easily clips off to separate from harness. Some of the harness can be used to walk your dog when unclipped from the car’s seatbelt.

Dog harness

 Body harness

May provide more control for difficult to walk dogs.  The harness allows for you to stear them from the front, similar to the way you lead a horse.  Because its not rear attached (like a collar or choker) you don’t trigger off your dog’s natural “dog sled” pulling instinct.  Because its not around your dog’s throat, there is no risk to your dog’s neck.

Make sure when purchasing that there aren’t any hard and heavy rings, sliders or sharp sewn areas that may chafe and rub your dog.  Choose a harness that is easy to place on your dog, some feel like you’re playing a game of twister as you lift legs and wrap it around awkwardly.  Some are made in part with reflective material for night-time safety. Be seen in a car’s headlights 1000 feet away when you are walking your dog

Head harness

Head halters are especially handy in tight spots and crowds because they offer a lot of control. They immediately eliminate pulling on the leash as you steer the dog’s nose, which in turn steers their body. It’s virtually impossible for a dog to drag you down the street when his head is turned to face you.  They can be a useful tool while your dog is still in training particularly if you have a rescued a dog who has not been trained, might be skittish in crowds or determined to go the opposite way to the way you’re going.  Note, they’re not muzzles and your dog still can open his mouth enough to bite.

Choose one that is comfortable on your dog ensuring there is no pressure on the throat.  Many dogs hate them even after time and tend to almost become depressed with them on.  However, they’re not a forever tool, just whilst your dog is learning to walk controlled when out.

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