Lessons Learned from Leashes

by Trevor Page

Have you used the retractable leashes? You know, the ones that allow your dog to run in front of your for about 12-16 feet? The concept is great, but on my daily walks with Jax and Rusko, I've learned that there really should be lessons on how to use these!

Generally, I've avoided these leashes, as I feel like they don't give me enough control over both of my dogs when trying to walk them at the same time. And I guess it's for good reason, too. Unfortunately, many animals are getting hit by cars or getting into fights with other dogs, because people are not paying attention.
I've learned a few things the hard way since adding a second dog to my family, and it's reinforced the importance of proper leash training and leash usage.

  1. Always remember that your dog (or dogs) should be at your side... not in front of you. If you have two dogs, like I do, work on training them to walk next to each other on one side or one on each side of you.
  2. Allowing your dog some leeway when sniffing in the grass to find the right "spot" is something altogether different and completely acceptable, but you'll know when your dog is sniffing to find that magical place to leave some pee-mail for future critters to read versus when he's just fogetting his manners.
  3. If you're using a retractable leash, please remember that there is a lock on the handle so that you may have your dog go only so far. Use this lock when you want your dog to be at your side, and only release it when you're allowing her the space to relieve herself! If you keep the leash at a reasonable length, she won't be able to run into traffic, get attacked by another dog, or be unable to be pulled back quickly if a biker, a small child, or any other obstacle comes rapidly toward you.
  4. If you're not using a retractable leash, your dog still shouldn't have the full leash length or the right to pull. Most leashes are much longer than necessary, so to maintain optimal control of your dog on the walk, try this. Slide your right hand through the wrist strap, grab the leash firmly with that hand, and cross the leash in front of your body. Grab the leash again with your left hand, about at the point where it crosses your hip, and have your dog walk by your left side. If you do this, you have two hands controlling the leash at different points if that squirrel becomes just too irresistable!
  5. Walking your dog is good for both of you, but it isn't a time to be doing anything other than bonding with your pet. Please keep your phone in your pocket and your eyes on your dog.

If you follow these simple tips, your dog will surely thank you for safer, more pleasurable walks where s/he knows what's safe, knows exactly what to do, and gets some wonderful fresh air and exercise!