How Long Should Your Leash Be?

If you’ve ever walked into a pet store, chances are you have seen the colorful display of leashes. They stretch down the length of an aisle in vivid greens, reflective yellows, soft browns, and animal prints. Some of them are thin and long like shoelaces while others look like thick, long belts. It can be intimidating picking a leash, but there are some things you should consider to help narrow down your choices. Considering your dog’s size, strength, and level of training can help you pick a leash that won’t make walks a hassle.

Smaller dogs and puppies are closer to the ground, meaning the distance between your hand and their collar is going to be longer than that of larger dogs. Smaller dogs can also be easier to control since they aren’t very strong. If a dog is already well trained and knows how to properly walk beside you, you can give him or her a little more wiggle room. These situations might require or allow for a longer leash based on your comfort level. Many owners use retractable leashes or very long ones (usually very thin, too) for dogs that won’t need to be corrected frequently or won’t try to dart away. Even with a dog on a longer leash, it is important to keep the dog close when walking along a road, where there are many other people and distractions, and when approaching other dogs. In these cases, keep your dog a little closer until it is safe to allow your dog more freedom again.

Larger dogs are going to be stronger and sometimes are harder to handle on a leash. Puppies are also learning proper walking behavior and may need to be corrected frequently. These kinds of dogs may require a shorter leash. This will give the walker more control and can help reinforce certain behaviors. Shorter leashes give you more of an advantage and can keep your dog closer in case of an emergency. Even with shorter leashes, if you don’t have a handle but have a loop in the material for your hand or wrist, try wrapping it around your hand a few times. This will shorten the length of the leash and make it a bit harder for your dog to pull free of your grip.

The average length for training and everyday use is about six feet in length and can come in a variety of widths and materials. For dogs that need a bit more guidance, a thicker leash made of strong materials such as leather will give you more control. Dogs that can enjoy a longer leash can use very thins ones (like those found in retractable leashes) and less sturdy materials such as Nylon. A dog will go through several leashes over a lifetime and the type of leash can change often. Always make sure the leash’s clasps are sturdy and not damaged before every walk, and inspect the leash itself in case your dog has mistaken it for a chew toy. Keep several at a time and keep them in easily accessible places such as the car, by the door, in a purse, and in the garage.

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