How to find the best dog leash for your pup

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Everyone knows that walking is the best exercise, and having a dog ensures that you are walking regularly. However, until you find the best dog leash for your pup, you may be dealing with a canine that pulls or a handle that hurts your hands. Plus, if you have multiple dogs and are using the wrong lead, walking them can become a bit of a nightmare.

Dogs on leash with Leah at yappy hour.
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

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The best dog leashes that make walks enjoyable

Believe it or not, dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a lead. This is something you have to teach them. Having the right dog leash will go a long way towards having a well-behaved pooch like the American Eskimo Dog, which just might be the perfect family pet.

However, there are a number of factors that go into choosing a dog leash. These include:

  • Size and strength of your dog
  • Purpose (training, walking or running)
  • Material and durability of the leash
  • Special features, such as hands-free options

Another consideration: if you’re running a pet-sitting or dog-walking business. In this instance you might need something that can handle multiple animals.

Here are some of the most popular options for leashes. Hopefully, one of these will meet your and your canine’s needs, especially if you like to take your pup with you when you shop at pet-friendly stores.

Best dog leash for large dogs

With the right leash, even small people can walk large dogs. For example, Dan Morris of PetNPat has a two-year-old German Shepherd/Labrador called Bingo. He can be a handful, especially for his wife, Naomi.

“She uses a regular short lead with a HALTI head collar, which stops him from pulling and keeps him walking in a heel position beside her,” he said.

In case you don’t know, the HALTI head collar goes around a dog’s head as well as their snout. It makes it easier to handle larger dogs.

Handler puts on a HALTI head collar on the golden retriever.
HALTI head collar. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

“He’s so strong and more difficult to control if he spots a cat or wild rabbit,” Morris added. Thus the aforementioned HALTI head collar.

Finally, this kind of head collar is also useful for training a dog how to walk well on a lead. So, if you’re new to dog ownership, it might be a good first leash and collar to try.

Here are some of the friendliest dog breeds.

Leashes for dogs that pull

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the worst kind of leash for a dog that pulls is one that is attached to a harness with a clip on the dog’s back. That setup actually encourages pulling.

On the other hand, if you get a harness where the tether attaches in front of the dog’s chest, they’re less likely to pull. Why? Because when the leash becomes taut, the harness tightens across their legs and they stop walking.

The PetSafe easy walk harness is a popular choice for a reliable front clip option that comes in a variety of sizes to fit your dog.

Vacationing with your dog? Here are the most dog-friendly airports.

Best hands-free dog leash

Many people who run with their dogs prefer to use a hands-free leash. These might go around their waist, like a belt, or strap across their chest like a handbag or beauty pageant sash.

Hands free dog leash around waist.
Hands-free dog leash. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

When Runners’ World did a roundup of hands-free leashes for runners, they suggested getting one with a “bungee” attachment. Why? Because unlike regular ones that might drag on the ground and trip you, the bungee stays short and keeps your dog tethered by your side.

However, if they do get ahead of you or lag behind as you pick up your pace, the bungee feature allows some flex without creating a tripping hazard.

Taking a rest day from running? Learn how to make time for yourself with a self-care Sunday.

Double dog leash

Maybe you’re like Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella and have two dogs. Sure, you can walk them each on separate leashes, but they can easily become entangled. Plus, your hands are completely occupied and can’t hold anything else.

Enter the Kurgo Quantum 6-in-1 dog leash, Bucciotti’s favorite. 

“It is an adjustable and multi-functional leash that is perfect for anyone that doesn’t want to carry multiple leashes and tethers,” said Bucchiotti.

According to the Kurgo website, here are some of the configurations you can get from this product:

  • Six-foot dog leash
  • Three-foot training leash
  • Hands-free, over-the-shoulder courier style
  • Hands-free, around-the-waist style
  • Double dog walker

Leather leash

There are a couple of reasons that dog owners will choose a leather leash. One, a leather leash is much more durable than a nylon one. Leather doesn’t fray over time like nylon does. Therefore, you’re likely to own it longer and spend less having to buy new leashes.

Two, the handle on a leather leash tends to have a stronger grit and grip to it yet is soft on your hands. On the other hand, nylon can cause irritation. 

And, three, if the leather gets wet, the handle doesn’t become slippery like nylon does.

The only downside? Wet leather might run or stain. So, don’t wear white when walking dogs on a leather lead on rainy days.

Dog leashes not to use

Overall, a retractable leash isn’t a good idea for most dogs. According to the AKC, retractable leashes actually encourage pulling.

Silhouette of retractable dog leash.
Retractable dog leash. Photo credit: YayImages.

Plus, they can be dangerous. A few years ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled certain retractable leashes that severely hurt pets and owners. Plus, Consumer Reports reported how some retractable leashes had cut, burned and almost strangled people using them.

Finally, sometimes the best dog leash isn’t one for dogs at all. 

Take Mandy Applegate who runs Splash of Taste. Her dog, Bolly, is a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu cross who weighs about five pounds. 

“She has a very thin, delicate neck, so I have a harness for her as I don’t want to put pressure on her neck [when using a leash],” said Applegate. “I’ve had to be creative though, as she’s so small and thin she can’t wear dog harnesses as they fall off, so she has a cat harness instead.”

Leah Ingram, dog mom to Oscar and Sadie, is the author of 15 books, including “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less” and “The Complete Guide to Paying for College.” She shares shopping advice for getting the most value for your time and money at

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