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.
Stunt Puppy Dry Leash
Simple, classic, and unfussy, this 3/4-inch wide dog training leash is lightweight yet strong. “This one is waterproof, has a nice short lead, and wins for durability,” Altomare says. “The fact you can hose it off at the end of a walk is a huge plus.” It’s made from BioThane, a nearly-indestructible material that’s also odor-proof. One review also points out that it’s particularly good for guiding leisurely walkers who occasionally pee on their leashes.
Shop now: Stunt Puppy Dry Leash, $24; amazon.com
Max and Neo Dog Gear Double Handle Leash
“These are great in that they have an extra handle about a foot from the end of the leash,” Altomare says. “In the event the pup is needed immediately at your side, it is there for full control (think crossing a busy street). As an added bonus, these leashes come with a reflector-type material that shines when it starts to get dark out.” Bonus: For every dog training leash sold, the brand donates one to a rescue.
Shop now: Max and Neo Dog Gear Double Handle Leash, $18; amazon.com
Kurgo Tru-Fit Harness
“There are front and back leash attachment points, it’s highly durable while providing comfort for the pet, and is easy to get on and off,” Altomare says. “I believe it also comes with a warranty—can't beat that!” The design of this dog training harness is based off of ones for rock climbers, with five adjustable points for a custom fit. It also was created to secure your pup in the car or on a walk. The included clip (with 10” tether) attaches to seatbelts, but reviews have noted using it for directing their pup in and out of the car as well.
Shop now: Kurgo Tru-Fit, starting at $18; chewy.com
Puppia RiteFit with Adjustable Neck
“This is my favorite harness for small dogs,” Altomare says. “This harness is made of a very sturdy mesh material, is comfy for the little guys, and provides a great fit with the adjustable neck. It's also very easy to clean which is a big plus.” Dog owners sing the praises as well, with over 3,200 five-star reviews.
Shop now: Puppia RiteFit with Adjustable Neck, $21; amazon.com
This shorter leash helps to keep your dog close by you with different thickness options for smaller or larger dogs. This leash also use the same strong, flexible, and highly visible rope as rock climbers, with a locking carabiner for even more security. The accessory loop near the comfortable handle is perfect for holding on to Cupp’s must-haves for training: treats. “Always be sure to carry treats on walks so you can practice and reward easy obedience behaviors like 'sit' or 'leave it' while you're out walking,” she says.
Shop now: Ruffwear Knot-a-Long, $35; amazon.com
2 Hounds Design Double Clip Leash and Harness
Cupp recommends this dog training leash in conjunction with the Freedom Harness from 2 Hounds Design, which is conveniently sold together at Chewy. According to 2 Hounds Design, the front clip acts as a second control point that helps comfortably direct your pup (and their attention) when distractions happen. The leash’s action loop prevents the leash from twisting, straining, or pulling, making sure every walk is enjoyable.
Shop now: 2 Hounds Design Double Clip Leash and Harness, starting at $39; chewy.com
PetSafe Cotton Dog Training Lead
“If your dog walks nicely on leash, your standard leash length is fine (approximately 6 feet),” Cupp says. “Long lines are great for ‘sniffaris’ and recall training where you aren't likely to encounter other people or dogs.” This one comes in three different lengths: 15, 20, and 30 feet.
Shop now: PetSafe Cotton Dog Training Lead, starting at $13; chewy.com