How I Met My Dog

Walk This Way: Three things to consider when choosing a leash

Picking a leash that works for you and your dog can be the difference between a good walk and a great walk. In fact, it can actually make all the difference between you walking your dog and your dog walking you!

Here are some tips on different lengths, materials, and types of leashes to help you choose the best leash option for your (and your dog’s) outdoor adventures.

Length and width

You can find leashes available in many different lengths. From the standard 4 and 6ft leashes to 8ft, 12ft, and 33ft, there are a lot of options. For the average daily dog walk(s), a 6ft leash is the best and most manageable length. Six feet is long enough to give your dog the freedom to do some some sniffing and exploring independently and still short enough to maintain and quickly regain control of your dog if you need to. Extra long leashes between 12ft and 33ft provide a great opportunity for a dog that has poor hearing or a dog that hasn’t mastered their recall to experience some independence and freedom while still being anchored to you. Shorter leashes that are less than 6ft in length are usually quite small and portable. They are great to carry or keep in your car as an extra “just in case” leash. For off leash walks, a 4ft lead is the perfect length to snap around your waist like a belt and easy enough to access if you need to quickly leash your dog.

Width also matters. Some common leash widths are ½”, ¾” and 5/8”. Choose a width that is both comfortable for your hand and can handle your dog’s strength base on size and weight. A leash that is too thin may snap if used on a larger dog and a leash that is too thick may not be comfortable in your hand, not to mention too heavy for a smaller dog.


The most popular leash material is nylon. Nylon is durable, hard to break, and maintains its shape very well. While nylon is a safe and inexpensive choice, if you have a strong dog that likes to pull or an excitable dog that likes to dart or weave back and forth, nylon can easily slide out of your hand and cause a gnarly rope burn on your hands and fingers. To avoid hurting your hands, consider a leather leash. Leather is a soft but very strong material. With some leather care and maintenance, a good leather leash could last a lifetime and help you avoid painful injuries. If you prefer to skip animal based products, a biothane leash is a great alternative to leather.


The three main types of leashes are standard leashes, harness leashes, and retractable leashes. Standard leashes come in the various lengths and widths as discussed above. A standard leash can also be a great multiuse tool. Clip it to your dog’s collar or harness and you’re all set to go! It can double as a belt or a rope if you find yourself in a sticky situation during an outdoor adventure. Some standard leashes also offer a double loop feature. A double loop leash has an extra handle placed closer to the leashes attachment point and gives you the option to use the leash at full length or at a shorter length.

A harness leash is a great option to use in lieu of a standard harness. A harness leash can help control a pulling dog and takes the pressure of a standard collar off of your dog’s trachea.

While retractable leashes might seem convenient, they not only teach your dog to repeat the undesirable action of pulling, they also pose some serious risk to your dog.  The first is breakability.  To keep retractable leashes light and compact, they are typically made from a thin nylon string. If your retractable leash is frayed anywhere, a jolt of pressure from a pulling dog could cause the leash to snap. The second dangerous feature is the retraction. While convenient and tidy when in your hand, if you drop your retractable leash while it is not locked in position, it will immediately begin to retract towards your dog and essentially chase your dog away from you. For these reasons, we do not recommend using retractable leashes and instead opt for a standard leash or a harness leash.

Whatever type of leash works best often comes down to personal preference. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different lengths, materials and types of leashes until you find one that’s comfortable and safe for you and your dog.

Here are links to some of our favorite leashes:





Double Loop:

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Always keep up-to-date tags securely attached to your dog’s collar. Be sure to include your dog’s name and your cell phone number so you can be reached - no matter where you are - if someone finds your dog.

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