So the day has come and you need to shop around for a lead, harness or collar for your new puppy or dog. Ideally this should be prior to picking up your new pooch, so it is a good idea to know the size you will require and what style you will need.
There are dozens of different types available, whether it is big dog collars you are after or small. What kind of lead will you need? what length will you need? Do you want a designer lead or a lead for training? the list is endless.
I am therefore going to cover some of the more common dog leashes, harnesses and collars (leashes are what our American cousins call a lead) and highlight some of our favourites here.
If you are still unsure about the choices available, you can always speak to a Vet or Dog Trainer, and they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
The Importance of choosing the correct Dog Leads and Collars
When choosing the correct lead and collar there are many things to take into consideration.
- Firstly the size of your dog. The collar must be comfortable for your dog (ideally two fingers slip easily between the collar and it is fur). Also, the lead must be the correct length for you when walking your dog. My wife and I have our own leads when walking our dogs, as I am nearly a foot taller than her. If I used her leads, then I would be tripping over the back paws of my dogs.
- The type of fur on your dog. If your dog has long fur and you decide to go for a harness, then that could become uncomfortable for him or her as their fur can get caught up in it.
- The attitude of your dog. If you find your dog is the kind that is prone to pulling a lot when walking then a harness is preferable. This is because if they pull, whilst wearing a collar, then there is a chance they could damage their neck.
With our two dogs we found that Nelly, the smallest, always needed a step in harness. This is because if she just wore a flat collar she could hurt herself. She gets very excited quickly and pulls and jumps all over the place. She just doesn’t realise how she can hurt herself.
Hudson, the larger of the two can be equally as boisterous. When we first rescued him he was very timid so a flat collar sufficed. Now he is much more lively and confident so a harness is a must.
Different types of Leads / Leashes
- The standard Flat Lead. These are the most common and are used for daily walks and basic training. They are normally between 1 – 2 metres in length and have a clasp at the end. They are manufactured in nylon, leather and even cotton or rubber. Within this group are the round, rope like material instead of flat. These are more and more popular and the type that we prefer. Because of varying lengths and thicknesses they work well with all dogs and provide good safety and control. Top tip, always choose a good brand and check the clasp is rigid and fit for purpose. Some cheaper brands have clasps that do not last very long and can deteriorate quickly.
- Bungee and stretchable rubber Leads. Personally I would AVOID these. Sold as reducing pulling issues with the dog they only go to reduce your training skills with your dog. A dog trainer will advise that a strong lead and confident owner is what is needed to train your dog.
- Retractable Leads. These are very popular as the owner can vary the length of the lead from about 1 meter to 15 metres all with the push of a button. The handle contains a mechanism that allows the owner to retract and release the lead as and when it is needed. Unfortunately, they do have a downside, the cable can be easily tangled and the dog can wander off into the path of danger if you are not constantly aware. People and dogs have been seriously injured using these. However, in the hands of a confident and situation aware owner, these can be an asset for the dog and the person.
- Slip Leads. These leads are also known as training leads and incorporate a lead and collar all in one. Basically they are a piece of rope with a small metal ring that provides a loop and acts as a collar. They are very easy to put on as all you do is place the loop over the head of your dog and it will tighten itself around it is neck. One thing to be wary of is ensuring it sits high on the dogs neck so to avoid choking your dog. A very handy lead but I personally wouldn’t use one long term, as it is a sensitive part of the neck, which prevents them pulling hard but could cause discomfort in the long run.
- Martingale Leads. These are not so common and are used more for quick walks when you are in a rush. Similar to the Slip Leads they look like the collar is attached to the lead with added adjust ability. They are designed for dogs with smaller heads and thick necks like greyhounds. They are designed to stop your dog “backing out” of it is collar.
- Gentle Leader Leads / Head halti. These look more like a collar than a lead that loops around the dogs muzzle. They are designed so that if your dog pulls, then it is head is directed towards it is owner, and therefore redirecting it is attention to it is owner.
- Halti Harness. These are designed to control your dog from the front in a steering action. Usually these are
made from a comfortable material so as to not cause rubbing on the shoulders or the chest of your dog. As with other harnesses they must befitted correctly so as to not cause discomfort.
Different types of Collars
- The Standard Flat Collar. Made from the same materials and designed to go with the standard flat lead. They are the most common and what you will find in most pet stores. Certainly all dogs should be able to walk with a Flat Collar. The only issue is that some breeds e.g whippets and greyhounds can slip out of them. If that is the case then a Martingale Lead would be more appropriate. Always go for a good quality brand as they will last longer and give you peace of mind.
- Choke-chain Collar. Some dog trainers recommend these as an ideal collar for training. The downside is they must be used correctly for it to be safe and under the eye of a reputable trainer. Some breeds do respond well to them but short nosed dogs must never wear a choke-chain.
- Prong / Pinch Collar. Another controversial collar like the one above. Some believe if it is used correctly then are a good training tool whereas others believe they are abusive. It is recommended that if you were to use one of these you should contact a qualified trainer beforehand. Again, if a trainer is needed and you should be supervised when using one, then I for one would not recommend them.
- Back-Clip Harness. These are the most common and have a D Ring on the back. They are the easiest to use and the most comfortable for dogs. There are several styles and materials from which you can choose from all depending on the size of your dog. Ideally they are for small dogs. If your little one is boisterous then this harness makes your dog easier to control without putting any pressure on it is throat. The only downside is that they are not ideal for training due to not providing any directional control.
- Front-Clip Harness. These are not so common as the back clip harnesses but have a couple of distinct advantages. The harness stops the dog pulling as the directional movement when pulling is towards the owner not away from them. These are often preferred by professional trainers and are preferable for larger dogs. The only downsides are your dog is more likely to get tangled in the lead and they do have to be fitted correctly as an ill fitting harness can effect the gait of your dog. It would also prove to be uncomfortable for your dog if fitted incorrectly.
- Dual-Clip Harness. These provide the best of both worlds of front and back clip harnesses. Although the rear clip has the most control the front one comes into operation if your dog lunges or pulls. One slight downside is that due to the amount of padding and material used they can cause some chafing around the shoulders of your dag.
- Step-In Harness. Instead of being a full harness these require your dog to literally step into the harness rather than have it placed over their head. They can be front back or both attachments. Some dogs find it difficult to step into them so have to be placed into position. Our little Nelly uses one all the time but even after three years she can’t step into it. She just stands on her back legs and waits to be put into position. Quite entertaining actually ha ha.
As you can imagine there are many different types of leads and collars out there that it can be difficult to choose the correct one. I always say if in doubt ask a professional. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and that is what they are there for. At the end of the day it is the safety and happiness of your pet that is the most important.
There are several types of collar that are available that cause pain for your dog. Pronged Collars, Collars that spray liquids, electric shock and choke chains will all cause pain and stress for your dog. I do not believe any dog should be put into a stressful or painful situation so would never ever use one of those products.
As I have mentioned here are many types available and really it is down to the size and temperament of your dog. I have attached some of the most popular of each for you to have a look at.
I hope my experiences and advice have helped with your choice. If you have any questions or advice I might find useful please feel free to drop me a line.
All the best