I have also witnessed owners accidentally let go of the handle only to have a very frightened dog being “chased” by the retracting cartridge. In addition, many trainers teach dogs to walk with a slack or loose leash which is the antithesis of a retractable leash that works by remaining taut due to the dog’s pulling.
So what equipment should the average dog owner use?
I prefer a traditional 5-6 foot canvas or leather leash. One inch width for medium and large dogs over 20 pounds and 3/4 inch width for small and toy dogs under 20 pounds. I feel the length gives me a lot of flexibility compared to a 3-4 foot leash. It is not so short that the dog does not have room to meander, yet the length is not so great to be cumbersome.
Harnesses and collars.
I have previously written a detailed article reviewing the different body harnesses and collars out there but here is a brief summary of the equipment I most often use. I do not use prong, choke or slip collars as its use and application is contrary to positive-reinforcement-based methods of animal training. I prefer to use no-pull body harnesses as my first go-to piece of eqiupment . I feel that most dogs do well with a body harness and are more comfortable wearing them which is why I rarely use a head harness like the Gentle Leader or Halti except in special circumstances which are summarized in the article above. Examples of no pull harnesses include the Freedom Harness made by Wiggles, Wags and Whiskers, Premier's Easy Walk Harness or the Sense-ation harness. These harnesses are removed after the walk and should not be worn all-day. My personal favorite is the Freedom Harness as I find it fits the majority of dogs very well.
|Kiku modeling a Freedom Harness|
Martingale Collars - For those dogs that do not tolerate harnesses or are escape artists (like my Shiba Inu), I use Martingale collars. These collars are limited slip collars that prevent the head from slipping out. If you are going to use this type of collar, care must be taken not to jerk your dog's leash and collar to avoid neck injuries.
Buckle Collars – I also use a plain buckle or snap-type collar to hold my dogs’ i.d. and for short excursions. Even though my dogs are microchipped, they always wear a buckle collar with I.D. because if your dog gets lost, the average person will look for a tag and it may not occur to them that your dog is micro-chipped.
Using equipment that reduces the risk of injury to you and your dog and is comfortable and painless for your dog is the first step to starting an effective training program.
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