Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh, Leashes I Have Loved (& Hated)!

   There are few things more essential in a dog owners tool kit than the basic collar and leash.  I am particularly particular about my leashes, because I believe that they either greatly enhance or completely ruin what might otherwise be a wonderful walk/training session!
   With Cassie I always have to be careful about selecting leashes that are appropriate for the task at hand.  For instance, your average nice leather leash might work fine in the obedience ring, but take one on a walk she will be both out of control and overly enthusiastic about using it as a chew toy!  Therefore, I thought I would just say a bit about the leashes I have now or have purchased in the past and why I do or don't use them now.

   1. Top Paws Luxurious Nylon Leash:
Graduating from Petsmart
          These leashes are available at Petsmart (so I thought it fitting to show Cassie wearing it during her one Petsmart Puppy class) and are probably the most versatile leash you can purchase. It's just your bog-standard nylon leash, but unlike some nylon examples it doesn't seem to burn or blister the hands as much.  They are also very sturdy, so work well for strong pullers or for obedience training (as there is little to no give).  The Top Paws brand in general is middle-of-the-road, but the basic leashes are of good quality.  Cassie had a pink Top Paws Nylon leash as a puppy with a matching harness. Unfortunately, she decided it would be fun one day to chew her way through the leash and another day she chewed straight through the harness in a matter of minutes.  The last one was my fault, having just washed the harness and not fitted it properly before putting it back on her.
    We've gradated to a heavier gauge 6' nylon and love it.  I almost feel nervous taking a walk without it.  It's both a good weight and a good length and the material is just thick enough to be strong, but not cumbersome.  It's a great everyday leash!

   2. Premier Eco Leash:
       I've written about my unhappiness with the Premier Eco Line in general, but in particular the leash is probably the worst product I've ever purchased.  In theory, Premier has done a good thing by sourcing their Eco line from recycled materials.  I have to admit what drew me to this product originally were the bright colors (especially the granny smith green) as opposed to the more muted shades of the traditional line.  I was to be disappointed on many fronts. 
   Firstly, a cursory look at the Amazon comments will show that many people are upset with the quality and durability of the product.  It's very light weight, but not strong enough to stand up to any medium/large sized pulling dog and it won't withstand even the lightest chewing.  It also stretches to a degree that makes it useless for Obedience training. Worst of all, I took it to an agility class (because it was light enough for a puppy to drag without getting caught on obstacles) and before we got in the door a squirrel sent Cassie on a tear and ended up costing me several bandaids worth of cut fingers and blisters.  The leash sliced right through my skin and basically ruined our evening before it had begun.  I know that some pain may have been caused by any leash when a dog takes off full sprint, but the thinness of the leash mixed with the material acted almost like a knife.  This has never happened with any other leash I've owned (even the cheap ones from Walmart).  I wouldn't by the Eco line from Premier in any form or for any function.  It just isn't worth the money (or the pain).

   3. Kong Control Grip Plus Leash:
     After our escapade with the Premier Eco leash I had to find a substitute that would ensure I wouldn't be injured again on my way to class!  Thankfully, this was almost the exact week that Kong came out with their new line of leashes.  We picked up the Control Grip Plus in pink and have had it ever since!
     The people at Kong really knew what they were doing (for the most part), the leash loop is padded with a soft spongy material and the loop itself actually has a release buckle so that if necessary it can act as an instant tether.  I haven't had to use this feature much, but once on a walk with Cassie my husband came across a neighbor's dog running loose.  He quickly released the buckle and snapped Cassie to a mailbox, while he chased after the other pup (he had gotten loose while they were leaving for work and hadn't been noticed as missing!).  So the Kong leash saved the day!
    In addition, the manufacturer has added a sort of brake to the leash.  This bone shaped piece of heavy duty flexible plastic can be easily positioned at any point on the leash and with a little bit of thumb pressure can instantly be used as a soft extra-strong handle to hold back the more exuberant pup.  It really works and has been very helpful in encouraging Cassie to sit politely for petting (without having my arm pulled off).
    What I also like about this leash is that it has a very sturdy (almost industrial looking) clip that can be snapped onto a D-ring with two fingers.  The snap is a little heavy, so I wouldn't use it with a head halter (or 'choke'-style training collars, for those who use them), but for a standard collar it keeps a perfect amount of resistance on the dog's collar without having it flopping around during the walk.
   The leash only comes in four colors (grey, red, pink, blue), which is a bit boring, but all have strips of reflective material stitched in for added safety in dim light.  The only downside I've found is that the longest length you can buy the 1" in is 4 feet, while the light weight 5/8" leash comes in 6 feet.   It makes no sense to me why the heavier gauge wouldn't come in a 6 foot version, as well.  My husband is 6'5" and can't use the leash without keeping Cassie constantly at heel.   Still a great product that I think every dog owner would enjoy!

 4. A Fleece Agility Tugger:
      These leashes from Clean Run are lovely for certain things, but not for everyday use!  I'm almost of two minds on this one.   It's made of braided fleece with a loop at one end and a basic clip at the other.  My friend Tracey won one at a Flyball show and I was so taken by the softness of it that the green-eyed monster I am went straight to Clean Run to pick it up!
      Like I said, it's good for some things like: agility training and tricks class.  It is very light and so doesn't slow Cassie down or catch on things (like tunnels) when we are moving through a course.  I can keep a leash on her while she's working and then because of it's fleeciness, use it as a tug reward at the end.  If you've ever seen agility competitions, the dog is not allowed to have a collar on, let alone a leash, but at the end of the course you will leash your dog and most people have a tuggy-leash that acts like a play reward.  This leash is great for that and is approved for use by AKC agility!
    What this leash is not, however, is a walking leash or a "transition" leash for people who's dogs pull or lunge.  By a transition leash, I mean a leash you use to move your dog from one area of an event to another.   At agility competitions, you will often be moving your dog around a lot: lining up before your turn, leaving the ring, getting to your seat, getting to another course.  So you need either a well controlled dog or a leash without a great deal of give...this leash is all about give!  It's soft braided material is loose and almost like a bungee. Therefore, if your dog pulls he will keep going after the "end" of the leash has been reached.  You won't have any leverage to stop him!  That give is what makes it so much fun to tug with, but not so much fun to walk with!  Still a great tool if you need it!


  1. I've actually been seeing some cute leashes that I was looking into, but I never thought about how it might be uncomfortable or hard to handle. I didn't know Kong made a leash, but they do know how to make things right.

  2. I think that you might really like the Kong Leash for your two...it's a really lovely walking-around-town leash and gives great control and is really strong. Even I find it a little short, but for city streets, when you want your dog close, it's probably a prefect length! The brake bar is a nifty idea and I can vouch for the fact that it works!

  3. just bought the kong leash...and had our first walk. I could say it is really amazing! it is really great for training because you are able to be "hands free" and able to handle treats a lot easier than holding a traditional leash. Although short, it is perfect for heel position and if you do need it longer... you can just unclip it from your waist and use it like a traditional leash.

  4. I really like it too! I've just bought a the new one that has a traffic leash included and (though I love a traffic leash) I still think I prefer the one with the clipping handle. We are starting a nose work class in a week or two so we've bought our first non-no pull harness (we also chose the Kong). I'm going to try it out during class and see how things go! I'll do a review of the new leashes afterwards!