It seems almost laughable to talk about, as holding your dog’s leash seems like such a basic concept. But, there is, in fact, a right and a wrong way to hold a leash, and the wrong way could put you and your dog at risk for some pretty serious injuries.
Without even touching on the dangers of improper leash holding, let’s first address the bad behaviors that come from improper use. You see, when you allow a dog to lean into their collars, tugging at a long leash, dragging you along, your dog is not doing what you want him or her to do; they are taking you where they want to go, allowing them to take charge. This is bad for both of you. You, as their owner and walker, need to be in charge at all times in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
Now, when you factor in the escalated risk of injury that this behavior sets up, you’re walking into disaster! If your dog starts pulling or takes off in one direction and you have the leash improperly wrapped around your arm or hand, you can seriously injure yourself. All too often owners are pulled to the ground, suffering bruises, scrapes, broken bones or worse due to tangled leashes in just the wrong circumstance of events.
That is why proper knowledge and leash skill will not only protect you both from potential injury, it will help ensure your dog’s safety while also teaching them proper leash manners. Here are some tips on how to safely hold a leash:
How to Properly Hold a Leash
- If you are walking a dog who doesn’t normally pull with a long leash, slip your thumb through the handle of the leash and simply close your hand.
- If you want your dog to walk closer to you, simply loop the leash over your thumb and fold it a few times in your hand. Do this until you have the desired length.
- For all dogs, a shorter leash will provide maximum control and safety. When looping and folding your leash, make sure that the leash is coming out of the bottom of your hand near your pinkie finger.
- If you are walking a dog who tends to get over excited or aggressive, use a shorter leash for more control.
- If you make any stops during your walk, be sure to either put a foot on the leash or hold it with both hands together, like holding a baseball bat. If the dog starts to pull, brace the leash with your hands against your stomach for complete control and extra leverage.
- If you’re walking a dog that starts to pull hard, point one hip in the direction of the pull with your legs shoulder length apart, and brace the leash. This way the dog cannot get anymore pull on the leash and will stop altogether.
- If you need to give your dog more leash simply open and close your hand, allowing the leash to unfold, but keep your thumb in the loop.
Just remember, when you’re out walking your dog, if he or she starts to pull and you give in, they will only be encouraged to pull harder. Don’t let them take control. If they start to pull but are met with firm resistance, they will soon give up.
For pictures and video on how to hold a leash, there are lots of videos on YouTube, like this one from the ASPCA, that give thorough demonstrations for all types of leashes.