The Best Dog Training Leashes, According to Trainers and Vet Behaviorists
Walking a dog is one of those tasks that seems like it should be effortless. After all, it's a chore often assigned to kids and teens. Like every other skill, though, leash training requires careful thought, patience, and an appreciation for how daunting it can be for your puppy. "The owner's main role during leash training is encouragement, support, and guidance, never negative discipline," says Mary Altomare, head veterinarian a Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter in East Hanover, N.J. "Leash training with a mindset of discipline can start off on a negative tone and have a detrimental effect to training."
Altomare recommends getting your pup used to walking on a leash by having her wear it indoors during playtime to create a positive association. Then, hold a treat in your hand to encourage your dog to walk next to you rather than in front of you. "The goal is to have the pup walk alongside the owner, not pulling in front or being dragged behind," Altomare says.
Any time a task is complete, reward with a treat to create a positive association.
"Start somewhere distraction free, such as inside your home," says Glenna Cupp, certified fear-free professional trainer, counselor, and owner of New Jersey-based Wild Thing Dog Training. "Then move into your yard, and eventually on 'real world' walks. Starting somewhere easy helps you lay the foundation."
How to Choose a Dog Training Leash
Though a thoughtful training technique is the top priority for getting your dog comfortable with walks, the right dog training leash is crucial for comfort and safety.
"Purchasing a quality collar and leash that is appropriate for the size and breed of your pet is so important," Altomare says. "The right collar should be made of soft yet sturdy material and allow two fingers to fit snug between the collar and the pet's neck, not allowing the pet to be able to maneuver out of the collar.
"The leash should attach securely to the collar, be of substantial thickness and durability and have a lead no longer than a few feet. By 'lead' I'm referring to how long the leash is—any more than a few feet and the owner no longer truly has control of the pet, which can be a huge safety issue."
Long leashes can be great for "sniffaris" and recall training in an open area. This way you can practice recall training and feel safe knowing your dog won't catch a bunny scent and dash away.
To that end, stay away from retractable leashes, along with other advanced features (like hands-free leash designs). As always, don't be afraid to ask your vet for a personalized recommendation. If you're ready to start your search for the best dog training leash, look to these options recommended by Altomare and Cupp.