Benefits of longer leads (2-4m)
- Dog can communicate with his body language (curving). Dogs have the ability to utilise their bodies to communicate with other dogs and people through freedom of movement
- Ability to see how a dog naturally likes to move (curving and non-linear movements) can create better co-operation from them with you
- Dogs can greet each other in less confrontational way (curving not head on)
- Allows dog to feel in control of their own body movements (a basic need of any being)
- Allows the dog to move at their own pace and tempo (walk, trot etc.) and not set by your pace. Small dogs often struggle to keep up and have to move at an unnaturally fast pace.
- Dog has freedom to sniff which is a calming activity. Not being able or allowed to sniff is like taking your friend on a scenic drive and blindfolding them.
- Provides the dog with their personal space (another calming behaviour)
- Gives the dog a greater sense of freedom (while still under lead control). This allows the dogs to have more positive emotional experiences and make better decisions by having the freedom to choose where their nose guides them.
- A longer lead will make it easier to transition to no leash
- Allows owner to build a trust-based relationship and practice building recall skills
Disadvantages of short leads (anything shorter than 1.8m)
- Dog feels trapped (increased reactivity) given the restricted space between them, owner and other passers-by
- Will feel like dog is always pulling, as dog struggles to match their gait to yours
- Force = Resistance
- The dog is unable to look around or sniff (the nose being the primary sense for the dog), which leads to reactivity, confusion and in some cases pain for dog and owner
Thanks to Hannah Ruess for this article. For help with loose leash walking, lead handling skills, meeting other dogs safely on lead and so much more, consider the Lifeskills Class with Pawsitive K9 Behaviour