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Leads (Leashes)

Leads (Leashes)

Considerations for choosing the right dog lead

When bringing a dog home for the first time, there are a number of purchases new owners will want to consider. Some are optional, depending on how much a person wishes to lavish on their new pet. Others, such as leads, are a must-have, because ensuring safety and security when taking a dog out for a walk is paramount.

With a great many dog leads available on the market, it can be difficult for new owners to know where to start. A seemingly endless list of designs, features, colours and materials make the simple process become decidedly more involved.

Do I need a lead?

As mentioned above, leads are simply not optional as they will help to not only guarantee the safety of your dog, but also those around it. Even the most well-trained pooches can get spooked or excited by something in the distance and bolt, regardless of whether the route may take them across a busy road, bridleway, field full of cattle or private land.

Furthermore, training a dog takes a good deal of time and effort - time in which they will need to be on a lead whilst they learn to stay at heel.

Arguably the biggest factor in needing a lead is that it's a requirement in the eyes of the law. Firstly, under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, owners have a responsibility to protect their pets from pain, suffering or injury. The Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, meanwhile, says that owners must not permit their dog to be, "dangerously out of control," in public. In this case, danger is deemed to be a dog that has caused harm to a person or who poses a real and legitimate threat to do so. This could even be something as small as jumping up, barking or chasing; two of which can be stopped immediately with a lead.

Similar laws also cover livestock, as dogs are not permitted to "worry" cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, poultry or goats on agricultural land.

Elsewhere, it is illegal to walk a dog along a designated road without the pet being on a lead. For public areas, local authorities have the power to set their own by-laws, meaning it could also be the case even off roads, depending on the authority in question.

What types are on the market?

With all this considered, new dog owners should soon be giving thought to the type of lead they will want, for which a few considerations need to be kept in mind, such as length, durability and design.

Leads will often come in different sizes although this is most often concerning width as opposed to length. Larger, more powerful breeds will put a greater strain on the lead, meaning a more robust option should be considered. Typically, anything wider than 8mm should suffice for larger breeds, with smaller ones doing the trick for small or mid-sized dogs. This, of course, is just a rule of thumb and certain leads are more durable than others, meaning width is less of a consideration than strength and material.

When considering material, opting for a nylon weave over the likes of leather or metal should make it less prone to breaks or snaps after being weakened by sustained tension. It will also be easier to clean and less likely to scuff, scratch or chip.

What features are available?

Just as with nearly every product on the market, there are countless different variations with price tags to match. We believe that whilst leads are available to those on a budget, they provide precious few additional features, are more likely to break and are less comfortable to hold for the owner.

Higher quality leads will not only be more comfortable, but also provide a raft of additional features - such as the Cool Dog K9 Connect Collection's pioneering quick release systems do away with fiddling with awkward clasps and can let the dog go in an instant. Some also feature a swivelling action to avoid twisting or tangling. Some even come with luminous accents along the entire length to make them safer for use at night, whilst non-rusting or rotting materials keep the lead looking good long after a pup has grown into adulthood.

Some lifestyle considerations

It's not only the dog's size, breed or temperament that owners need to consider when buying a lead, but also the lifestyle they are expecting the pooch to live. The kind of toy dogs that only venture out inside a handbag are probably unlikely to want a rugged, functional lead, but those set for a more adventurous life may require such options. Therefore, anyone looking to go running with their dog, take it on craggy mountainous walks or simply ensure it remains safe and secure at all times, a more durable lead could provide the solution for you.

So whilst leads may come in all manner of different shapes and sizes, there are potentially more features to consider than many first realise. For this reason, setting out to find the right model for the dog or lifestyle could involve more than just selecting a cheap, off-the-peg model.