Taking your dog for a walk can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your day. It is a time when just you and your dog can have fun and spend some quality time together. To help make ‘walk time’ an easy and smooth process, there is a variety of equipment that is designed to help you keep control of your dog so that they stay safe whilst being able to release any pent up energy.
One of the most important types of equipment for you to choose is the type of lead that you use to walk your dog. Leads come in all shapes and sizes and it is important to choose a lead with enough strength and length to accommodate your dog; if you choose a lead that is too light for a larger dog, then you may find that it breaks when under stress. Although it may seem obvious, you’d be surprised at how many people will purchase the wrong-sized lead for their dog. Most leads will indicate the weight of dog that they are suitable for on the label or pack.
Leads can come in many different forms with leather, nylon or chain being the general materials used. There are two different types of standard leads. There are regular leads that are adjusted to meet the height and size of the dog, allowing them to walk freely at the heel with ease. Then there are tab leads which are generally much shorter and are designed to keep the dog closer, they are generally used for training or for dogs that are used in competitions or shows.
Another type of lead that is available is the flexi-lead. These leads are generally nylon that wind round a reel contained within a hardy plastic box. The idea is that the strong nylon lead can be extended or retracted as and when the owner needs to, giving the dog more or less freedom to roam on the lead. They are often used for dogs that aren’t allowed off the lead as it enables them to have more freedom and roam a bit further away from their owner, whilst still giving the owner control.
It is important to note that the flexi-lead has been in decline over recent years due to concerns about it safety. Many people have seen the locking mechanism fail allowing their dog to break free, something that can be very dangerous if they are near a main road. Another issue that people have is the fact that flexi-leads work by being consistently taut meaning there is constant pressure put on the dog’s collar and neck. This can potentially cause strain whilst keeping the dog on edge or over alert as a result of feeling restricted.
Harnesses and Halters
Some dog owners will use a harness or halter instead of, or in junction with, leads. There are two types of harness available for dogs. The first is a chest harness which goes around the body of a dog by fastening on the back and connecting two bands (one around the abdomen and one around the front of the chest) to a strip of metal along the back. They are generally considered a good alternative for dogs that have a neck or head injury or who consistently pull on the lead as they exert less pressure on the neck. However, it must be noted that some believe that this lack of pressure on the neck can actually cause the dog to pull more when on a harness.
The second is the head halter, a device that is made from thin nylon and goes behind the back of a dog’s head around the nose. The aim of this halter is to give the owner more control over their dog’s head. It must be noted that there is an on-going debate over how effective the head halter is and whether they are a good idea. Many people feel that the halter is too harsh as it can dig-in or sit in an uncomfortable position on the dog’s head, potentially causing irritation or even injury. If you are thinking of using a head halter then you should speak to your vet or dog training expert before doing so.
Another thing that you should take with you at all times when walking your dog is a bag to clear up your dog’s excrement. You can buy bags as well as dispensers that can be attached to your dog’s lead or collar. There are also some new products available on the market such as the Dicky Bag, which is a container made from polythene (the same material used to make wetsuits) that comes with a compartment to keep your poo bags and dog excrement in, as well some very powerful deodoriser to keep the bag smelling fresh. There are lots of pooper scooper options though, so shop around for what suits you best.