On-leash vs off-leash dog walking, which way to go? Taking your dog out for their regular walks and exercises is one of the crucial tasks a pet parent should never overlook.
You can step out with your leashed dog into a busy street or choose to go off-leash in a dog-friendly park.
Your choice should be guided by your dog's individual situation and the environment you are taking them in for a walk.
Come along with us as we talk about both methods and highlight a few considerations you need to think of when choosing your preferred method.
On-Leash Dog Walking
Most dog owners prefer walking their furry companions with a leashed collar or harness. This restraint option gives them a high level of control over their dogs ensuring safety in every step taken.
The following are some of the benefits of walking with a leashed dog:
1. Control and Safety
Leashing your dog for a walk helps in keeping them safe especially when you are on a busy street or public place.
With a leash, you can keep your dog close to you at all times and this helps prevent common hazards such as accidents.
2. Improved bonding and companionship
Walking with a leashed dog by your side helps in building up your bonding experience during the period spent outdoors.
3. Prevents losing the pet
Losing your dog during a walk can be devastating and distressing at the same time just to say the least.
You can significantly reduce the odds of losing your furbaby by using a leash to take over their control during walks.
4. Enhances good behavior in dogs
A leashed dog is less likely to engage in bad activities while with you at an outdoor event.
You can now make sure that your canine friend does not go around sniffing everyone and everything or eating stuff they find on the road.
5. It makes training easier
Training your dog to follow basic commands can be made much easier when you clip a leash on them.
Your pup will feel bound to you and follow your instructions keenly when they are physically contained.
6. You're following the law
Some neighborhoods and districts have passed strict policies against walking with unrestrained dogs.
Such rules are meant to protect members of the public who might get startled by an oncoming dog and also prevent the dogs from intruding into private properties.
It is good that you leash your dog whenever walking with them around such zones as a polite gesture and also to get you on the safe side of the law.
5 Types of Dog Leashes and Their Uses
There are different types of dog leashes that you will find in the market today. They all aid in training and keeping your dog close by as you walk.
1. Standard leash
This is the most widely used leash and they are typically made from nylon, sisal, or leather materials.
The standard leash is meant to attach to the collar on your dog's neck via a metal clasp at the end. They are typically between 4 to 8 feet long.
The flat lead was the most popular of these standard leashes but we now have rounded ones.
This leash comes in various thicknesses and sizes. We recommend that you start with the shorter ones to give you more control as you progress with the length.
2. Retractable leash
The retractable leash is made with a mechanism that allows your dog to go as far as 30 feet or more during the walk.
The retraction mechanism can be activated and deactivated in the plastic handle to give you control over how far you want your canine friend to drift away from you.
This leash is best used in playgrounds and such places where the environment is not very busy. It allows your dog to sniff around the grass and trees hence making them get wild but with your ultimate control.
The retractable leash is not a good option to consider when you are in a busy environment full of people, pets, and cars. It doesn't offer a quick response when your dog runs into danger.
You also need to be conscious about the rope that attaches to your dog's collar or harness. Low-quality ones are prone to tangling and hence they may predispose your dog to danger when in the wrong environment.
3. Adjustable leash
These leashes are patterned with several loops that will allow you to increase or decrease the length hence offering more flexibility.
This functionality makes it an ideal option compared to standard leashes, and it is good for training your dog.
You can wrap this leash around your waist to give you hands-free control over your dog. This is more effective when running with your dog.
4. Slip leads
A slip lead leash is made with a long rope and a metal ring at the end.
It is worn by slipping it over your dog's head and properly adjusting it to fit around the neck area. This is designed to function both as a leash and collar for your dog.
You should always be careful when strapping the slip lead over your dog's neck. It ought to sit closer to the ears to avoid choking and coughing.
Slip leads for dogs are commonly used during dog training because they offer a lot more control over the dog than regular leashes.
5. Martingale leash
A martingale leash can be compared to slip leads for dogs. It is crafted with a collar-like end and a long lead with adjustability functions.
The martingale leash was made for dogs with smaller heads and thick necks like the English Greyhounds and Whippets.
When the dog tries to pull out from the collar, it will tighten and make it harder for them to escape. This is therefore a good tool for dogs that love to pull and escape during walks.
But don't worry, your dog will not be choked when the collar gets tight due to pulling. You can set the maximum limit which the collar can tighten when pulling.
This means that the martingale collar will tighten to fit your dog's neck size without exerting any added pressure.
4 Safety Considerations When Walking a dog on a leash
These are some of the safety considerations that you need to observe when walking with a leashed dog:
1. Always use the right type of leash for your dog
Not all leashes are good for your dog. Go for the product that matches your dog's size, weight, and strength.
Narrow down and get the type that suits their behavior and temperament when walking.
2. Use the leash correctly
Make sure to properly clip the leash on your dog's collar or harness and hold the handle loop correctly.
You can loop the handle over your thumb to give you maximum control of the situation.
3. Walk in a safe area
Proper leashing is not enough, you need to choose an area that is safe for both you and your dog to walk in.
Avoid super busy streets with bursting activities from lots of people, pets, and cars that may distract your dog and predispose them to bad behavior.
We recommend that you walk in areas you are familiar with or survey a new path before taking your furry friend.
4. Use reflective gear
When walking during the night or in poorly lit environments, you should make sure that your dog has a reflective collar or harness. This will work to make them visible to passing motorists.
Check out more of our helpful dog-walking tips.
Off-Leash Dog Walking
Off-leash dog walking allows your furry companion to wander away from you during the walking session.
Here, you are not restraining your pup using a leash or any other form of physical barrier that inhibits their movement from you.
Off-leash dog walking can be both good and bad depending on your situation and where you are walking with your dog.
4 Advantages of off-leash dog walking
1. Allows your dog to relax
Walking with a leashed dog will always put them in a situation where they know their movement is restricted.
In case of an emergency, they can only depend on you and this makes them lose their cool.
A freely roaming dog will be more relaxed knowing that they have the latitude to handle any situation that comes their way.
2. Intensive exploration
Dogs have a natural instinct to sniff and investigate their environment as they walk.
Off-leash walking allows your canine friend to do just that and thereby making their exploration more fun and thrilling.
3. More exercises
Leashing your dog during walks limits them from getting an all-rounded exercise session.
A dog roaming with you is able to walk, run, jump, explore, and make an intellectual judgment on where to go next on their own terms.
This is particularly very practical for high-energy dogs who have to burn more energy when stepping out for outdoor activities.
These all-rounded exercises are good for your dog's physical and mental health.
4. Improved socialization
A freely walking dog has the latitude to interact with other friendly pets and relaxed people positively as they walk. This helps to improve their socialization which helps in reducing stress and anxiety.
Choosing The Right Off-Leash Walking Area
As we noted before, there are some areas where they require all pet parents to restrain their dogs when stepping out for a walk.
So how do you go about choosing the right off-leash walking areas for your dog?
When going off-leash the first step you need to confirm the policy about walking with pets in the area.
Do they allow off-leash or not? If yes, then you can proceed and inspect if the area is safe and secure from common hazards like busy roads, deep lakes, poisonous plants, dangerous animals, etc.
We recommend that you consider an enclosed park with safety features to keep you and your dog secure during the period.
Make sure you have trained your dog to obey basic recall commands before going off-leash with them. This will enable you to call them out from danger when they run into one.
On Leash Vs Off Leash Dog Walking: Choosing the Right Method
Bosh on-leash and off-leash dog walking have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you to assess the situation and consider what will work for your furry friend based on the current situation and needs.
You should carefully look at your dog's personality and behavior when choosing between the two. We recommend using a leash for untrained dogs.
Make sure to work out a good balance between your dog’s freedom and your control over them. Don't give your dog too much latitude to roam in a chancy area no matter how trained they are.
Off-leash walking should be a preserve of well-trained dogs in a pet-friendly zone or park.
Make sure your dog can make a reliable recall before choosing off-leash walking.
Tips For Overcoming Common Leash-Walking Challenges
Using a leash to walk your dog can be a challenge to both the pet parents and the dogs especially if the pup loves pulling.
The common challenges experienced are pulling on the walk, leash biting, entangling the leash, stopping on the walk, too much sniffing, and distractions while walking.
Here are some helpful tips that will help you overcome the associated challenges:
- Choose the right-sized leash (between 4 to 6 feet is a good place to start).
- Train your dog on how to walk with a Leash.
- Use valuable positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior.
- Don't use a retractable leash in a busy environment.
- Allow your dog to stop and sniff a little when walking.
- Don't pull the leash since this may encourage the dog to stop walking.
Tips For Improving Recall and Obedience in An Off-Leash Environment
Before stepping out with your furry companion for an off-leash walking session, you should make sure that they can respond to basic commands and they are trained to come when called.
- Start by training your dog in a controlled environment such as your backyard or in the house before gradually proceeding to an open area.
- Make sure to use your dog's favorite reward treats during the training sessions to encourage good behavior and quick learning.
- Make sure to keep the training shifts brief and frequent. A very long session might be boring and tiresome for your dog.
- Proceed to increase the distance between you and your dog and introduce disturbances during the training.
- Never punish your dog for failing to do as expected. This will only derail the training and harm your relationship.
Concerning the debate about on-leash vs off-leash dog walking, we have seen that both can be helpful for your dog as long as you do everything correctly.
Deciding on the one to go for will depend on your dog's personality and the environment you want to take them.
When going for a leash, you should choose the right products that will give your dog comfort while letting you have proper control over them.
If you've decided to go off-leash, make sure it is in a safe zone and that your dog is properly trained.
Regardless of the method you choose, make sure your dog gets their daily walks and exercises to keep them physically fit and mentally stable.