Long leash – yes or no?
[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]Y[/su_dropcap]ou know the problem? Your dog is about 100 metres away (or more) and you call him/her, and – nothing, apart from a slight lift of the head in your direction or worse, the dog then gallops off with another dog. Oh, this happened to us. Micro is strong-willed and recall isn’t his forte (yet) especially if there is a toy involved to distract him.
There are dog trainers who will tell you that the dog shouldn’t roam freely unless it masters the recall perfectly. At home you even get trainers who allow bitches in heat in the training (behind a fence, to avoid any – situations) so that you can train the recall with your dog even with this very strong distraction. No one wants the dog galloping into the sunset. Since Micro came with lots of panic issues, training recall was less a priority compared trying to gain his trust in situations where he would panic and run away. When I started to really invest in recall training last year – given the fact that he is strong-willed – I used to have all the dogs in the park coming to me, just not him. He seemed to think that if I had all the others, why should he be there as well, didn’t I have enough dogs now? And, don’t forget, we have a dog that is not food motivated, so high (like in really, really high) energy it was. I felt like the nincompoop at the bottom of the park jumping up and down like a rubber ball, trying to be more fun than aaaaanything else in the park – eventually I did succeeded, though!
As a teenager, Micro really started to test us on how far he could go and so the (15m) long leash came into our lives. First it was a fairly cheap nylon one in neon pink (only a real man can wear pink…). This one did a good job in the sunshine, but in rainy weather and after a few months in the car, it started to get mouldy (eeek!). Nylon wasn’t a great choice as I found out when Micro tried to run and I kept hold of the leash – yep, burned the skin away in the hand like nothing else. Not. Nice. The non-retractable leash doesn’t seem to be very popular around here, so I had to do some online research to figure out a better product. It turns out there are a lot of things to consider.
We ended up opting for a BioThane tracking leash (in yellow, if you want to know). It’s a US patent, polyester webbing with a TPU or PVC coating that makes it more durable than leather, waterproof, easy to clean and weldable. It doesn’t absorb bacteria or mildew and is made for attractive longevity. It’s also used for horses. Usually, the leash cleans itself if the dog drags it through a puddle, but you can used some water and soap. There are lots of colours to choose from, and a wide variety of shapes and forms. To bring some light into the BioThane darkness there are:
Two different snap hooks: brass and chromium plated ones. The brass ones are resistant to salt water, the chromium-plated ones to fresh water. The brass ones come in to shapes: one that opens like a pair of scissors (which makes it very durable and you can unleash your dog even if he pulls) and your normal one.
The hooks also come in two sizes: if you have a small dog, take a small hook, with a bigger dog, take the big one (logic, no?)- usually on the smaller leash (usually 13mm) there is normally a small hook, and on the wider ones (usually 16mm or 19mm) there is normally the big one. You can take a wider leash for a small dog, but not the other way round.
There are riveted and stitched leashes (at the point where the hook is attached). Usually the stitched variety is more durable compared to the riveted one.
Practical example: if you have a big, heavy dog that tends to really pull, choose a wide model with the big hook and the stitched variety.
The leashed come with, without hand-strap and as welded variety. Some of the leashed are only produced with hand-strap, but you can cut them off, without causing any damage to the leash. As soon as you drop the leash, the ones without hand-strap are bit more practical, because it reduces the risk that the leash gets stuck on a branch while the dog is frolicking in the bushes next to you. The welded one is necessary if the leash cannot be dropped in any circumstances.
Some leashes without hand-snap come with a small strap fastened at the end of it, so that you don’t loose track when there won’t be any more leash to give and you need to do a recall and keep hold of that leash (unless you really want to let go).
The leash come in a round and a flat variety. The round one is more practical if you know you are going to drop it anyway. It is less likely to get entangled in the bushed (compared to the flat one), although the flat one is already pretty slippery.
Since Micro isn’t a very heavy dog, we got a small, flat one with a normal brass hook (just in case we need it at the beach) with a hand-strap (just because it didn’t come without) in neon yellow. We like the idea of a non-retractable long leash, as it gives the illusion of freedom and the possibility of training the recall in time (before the end of the leash) – and the peace of mind in open parks. Hope that has brought some light into the long leash jungle.