How to choose a dog leash

Picking the right dog leash is a simple task if you keep in mind that, above all else, it’s a training tool. A fifty dollar leash with a leopard print won’t be of much use if it doesn’t allow you to keep your dog under control. The best leash is one that will help you communicate to your dog what you want him to do.

Types of leads

As when choosing a dog collar, different leashes serve different functions. Keep in mind the type of training you want to do with your dog and what tools are best suited for it.

Standard Dog Leash

A standard 6′ leather or nylon leash is great for walks or basic obedience exercises, but it won’t allow you to give corrections to your dog over long distances.

Retractable Lead

A retractable leash that can extend 25′ to 30′ can be useful for leash training a puppy or for teaching the stay command, but it may not be the best way to keep your dog under control.

Leash materials

Nylon and leather leashes are the standard fare. Some people don’t like nylon because it can be rough on hands with extended use. Leather is more skin-friendly. However, you should look for a braided leather leash that doesn’t have sewn parts, which can pull apart. Also, if your dog will be around water often, a leather dog leash won’t hold up as well as a nylon one.

You should never use a chain leash. Not only are they ineffective for training purposes, they can easily injure you or your dog.


The size of the leash depends on the size of your dog and personal preference.


The bigger your dog, the wider his leash should be. If you’re choosing a leash for a puppy, buy with his adult size in mind whenever possible. Of course, a 1″ leash may be fine for an adult Great Dane, but may not be suitable for him as a puppy.


The leash length depends on what you find comfortable and gives you the most control. Some owners like longer leashes (6′ or so) while some prefer shorter. The leash should be long enough to give your dog some slack, but not so long that he’s constantly tangled in the excess.

Buying recommendations

A nylon show lead makes for a great puppy leash. They’re usually inexpensive and serve as a gentle introduction to leash training. As your puppy grows, you’ll need to step up to a stronger nylon or leather dog leash. A 4′ to 6′ leather leash in a width that’s suitable for your particular dog and a nylon retractable leash should be enough to meet all of your training needs.

Other points to keep in mind when buying a lead:

You should have more than one

Even a quality leash can break, be lost, or get chewed up during training. Have a back-up, or two, in case something unexpected happens.

Avoid leashes with decorations

Glitter, tassels, flowers, or any other decorative addition can come off and choke your dog. If you just can’t live without them, make sure they’re sewn on securely.

Of course, these are just general guidelines. You should try different leads and choose the dog leash that best fits you and your puppy or dog.


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