Travel and the Perfect Small Canine Leash
What is in a leash? It seems like such a simple thing – a leash; a simple item that rarely occupies too much thought. Yet, there are so many options! Let me take a moment to break it down for you and give you the six most common types of leashes:
- Nylon/Cotton: These are best for dogs who don’t pull too hard. Cotton is more flexible and easier on human hands; nylon is stronger and more durable. Either can be chewed to pieces. I know! I did it as a pup!
- Leather: Leather leashes last the longest and are best for dogs who pull. The leather will soften with age. However, leather can also be chewed to pieces – and boy, do they taste yummy!
- Retractable: Retractables, or extension leashes, let your dog wander a little when it’s safe to do so during walks. You can shorten the length to bring your dog closer. Retractables are long leashes (often 16 or 25 feet), rolled up on a spool inside a plastic handle. The leash releases, retracts, and locks into place at the push of a button. The leash itself can be a cord or made of webbing. The webbing style hurts less when the leash (inevitably) becomes wrapped around legs – the dog’s or yours. Both webbing and cord will cause skin burns or worse if the leash is pulled or quickly released when wrapped around a limb. Webbing can be chewed to pieces, and cords can be chomped through in a single bite. More importantly, these extension leashes can teach bad leash habits because a dog learns it’s okay to pull. Dog trainers really dislike retractable leashes.
- Couplers: These Y-shaped leash additions are made to walk two dogs simultaneously. Essentially a two-pronged lead, a coupler clips on to the end of your regular leash with each end of the coupler clipping onto one dog’s collar. Some couplers can be adjusted for dogs of different heights so your tall dog doesn’t drag your short dog.
- Slip: A slip is a one-piece combination of leash and collar. A slip can be put on and removed quickly. They’re used on dogs who aren’t wearing a collar–such as show dogs or strays at a shelter–but they aren’t the best choice for walks. A slip leash must be put on correctly or it won’t loosen properly and can thus be dangerous for the dog. A dog who pulls will certainly suffer with a slip leash.
- Traffic: Traffic leashes are very short leashes, approximately a foot or two long. They are designed to keep a dog as close to you as possible, thus out of the way of vehicular (scary) traffic. Traffic leashes are mostly used for larger dogs because small dogs usually just get picked-up.
- Length: Basic leashes tend to be either four or six feet long. Retractable leashes are significantly longer, typically 16 to 25 feet. Slip leashes tend to be about four feet in length. Six foot leashes are usually better for small dogs who are closer to the ground and thus, further away from an owner’s hand. Trainers also usually prefer 6 foot leashes although some people find it a challenge to manage the extra bit of leash that loops and droops.
- Safety: Once teeth have been sunk into a leash, toss it and get a new one; otherwise, it may unexpectedly rip in half during use. Even if a leash is chew-free, replace it after a few years. Normal wear and tear will weaken a leash, putting it at risk of suddenly breaking. That’s not so fun on a busy street.
At home, I have a little collection of leashes. I have a nice leather leash that matches my little Italian leather coat, and a Louis Vuitton leash that goes with my LV carrier bag and collar. I also have two lovely, fancy designer leashes from All About Elegance. They sparkle and shine so are my favourites when I need to strut on a runway! And I can’t forget my gorgeous leash in a “bon-bon” formation by Kiki Hamann, specially made to match my summer sling bag. Finally, I have two simple black nylon “cat leashes” that, somehow, end up being used every day.
And that is what it boils down to when travelling: what will you use every day? The perfect leash is the one that best suits your dog and your needs.
The reality is that, as much fun as all my fancy leashes are, I tend to really use the synthetic leashes the most. Why? Because they are lightweight, take up no space in a bag or pocket, are sturdy and easy to keep clean. Synthetic leashes are also inexpensive, so should one get lost or damaged, no one will be particularly upset. Cat leashes tend to be the right width for me – dog leashes are always that little bit too wide – and can often be found in a not too long or too short length. The perfect length for me is about 5 feet – not a common length in dog leashes. Most dog leashes are either too long for me at 6 or more feet, or too short at 4 feet.
Travel for us means travelling light. So when people ask me what my favourite travel leash is, I have to be honest and admit that for travelling, my favourite isn’t a designer product or a custom-made leash. My favourite is just a plain and simple every day nylon leash. I can go walking about, to the beach, sailing or hiking, and just as easily go out to dinner at a restaurant patio with the same nylon leash. If the nylon gets wet, it dries quickly; if it gets dirty, it can be soaked, rinsed and hung up to dry. But, between you and me, Dear Reader, I will admit I often stash a fancy leash into my bag too. See, you never know when you’ll be invited to some fancy little soiree – and a properly packed dog is a prepared dog!
So the verdict? At least for me, the best travel leash is the nylon leash that can go from day to night, is light weight, and no more than six feet long. Now, if I were a big dog I might want to look into this!
Do you have many leashes? Which is your favourite travel leash and why?