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Dog Leads, Leashes and Restraints 
 
by Ann MacDonald June 07, 2005

An overview of the kinds of restraints available for dogs. From leads and leashes to yard trolley systems and tie-outs, learn all about dog restraints.

Even if you have the world's most docile dog, you probably still need a lead or leash for some situations. Many places require that dogs be restrained in some way; "leash laws" prohibit dogs from running free in public places. If your dog is unruly or aggressive, you may need additional restraints such as a harness or muzzle; these restraints are for the protection of your dog and those around him.

Looking for leashes

When you look for a leash for your dog, it is important to think not only about your dog's characteristics, but also the situations in which you anticipate using the leash. First, you need to know your dog's size and weight. Leashes and leads are rated for a dog's weight to ensure they can hold him while being lightweight enough to avoid straining or injuring him. Do you plan to use the leash only when you go for walks or do you need a lead to restrain your dog in your yard or another location? What length of lead or leash do you think you need? Do you prefer the retracting variety or a static length? You may find that you need multiple leads for different situations. The following sections will help you find the best leashes for you or your dog.

These leashes were made for walking

Most people just want a leash that will be good for taking their dog on walks. Leashes are frequently made of leather, metal, nylon and other synthetics. Any of these leashes can be effective and attractive; as long as the leash seems strong and has quality materials and fittings, any of the commonly used materials will probably work for you. Of course, you need to pay attention to your dog's individual needs. For example, if your dog chews everything leather, you may want to select another material since chewing can accelerate fraying. If chewing is not a problem, leather may be desirable since it is sturdy, yet becomes softer and more flexible over time. Whatever material you choose, make sure to choose a leash that is appropriate for your dog's weight; a good product will indicate the recommended weight on the label. In addition, check your leash for wear and tear regularly and replace any worn out leashes or leads.

When you are first training your dog, a basic six-foot leash will probably serve your needs well. In addition, some leashes offer extra shorter loops for tighter control, such as in traffic. As your dog becomes more disciplined, you may want to get a longer leash to give him a little freedom. Retractable leashes are very handy for this since they allow you to shorten or lengthen the leash as needed, and they also help keep the length from tangling. Keep in mind that you have less control over the dog with a retractable leash.

Do you walk your dog in the dark often? If so, you might want to consider a leash made of reflective material or with reflective portions. Does your dog like to jog with you? Consider a hands-free leash that clips to your belt. Hands-free leashes are best for well-trained dogs since they offer less immediate control.

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