As a professional pet sitter and dog walker, it is part of my job to take dogs on their walks for potty relief, fresh air and exercise. For this reason it is important that I am able to advise my human clients how to properly and safety walk their dogs and also keep them informed about the best use of leashes (leads), collars, harnesses and other accessories for safe and carefree walks.
I recommend against using retractable or flexible leashes. They have proven ineffective in properly walking dogs and worse, they have been the cause of many accidents and even fatalities. They are dangerous to both the dogs and walker. The flexible leash allows the dog to walk away from the walker for up to 25 feet. This does not allow for the walker to see hidden perils in shrubs and bushes, street drains, puddles and other danger zones. It also allows the dog to get into running mode without the necessary control to keep the dog close when it begins to dart, for instance, to chase a squirrel, cat or bird or approach other dogs or pedestrians. Furthermore, the handle on the retractable lead is not well suited to the human hand and when pulled upon, can easily be extracted from the hand, leaving the dog out of control. There have also been stories about how the cords on these leashes have snapped back at the walker, causing severe injuries to face and eyes. In addition, the cords can become tangled very easily with other leashes when dogs encounter each other.
Recommended leashes are standard nylon, leather or similar material in a 3-4 foot in length attached to the dog collar or harness. This keeps the dogs close for a moderate walk and still allows the dog to sniff in preparation for urination or bowel movement. At this distance, the walker is still able to control the pace and style of walk, keep an eye on the dog and notice if there are any items on the ground that could be dangerous to the dog. If the dog pulls in order to run toward another animal or other reason, the walker can easily tug on the leash to the keep the dog in control, without having to pull too hard.
Harnesses are great for many dogs and for different reasons. Small dogs benefit so that their necks are not injured during pulling, medium to large benefit for this reason also, and also have the added benefit of more control during walks. There are a vast variety of harnesses that can be purchased at pet supply stores and online. Ask your Veterinarian for recommendations.
Always make sure you have a few leashes on hand for your dogs, in case one breaks you will have a spare. If you take your dogs for rides in the car, consider having a seat belt or dog car seat as this will keep them safe as well, from movement during your drives and also in case of a collision, they are safely secured. Taking extra precautions with your dogs for their walks and other occasions will give you peace of mind and keep you and your dog family happy for many years to come.
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