Trainer Edition: 5 Types of Dog Leashes (Pros & Cons)


A dog leash is one of the unsung heroes in the world of dog products. When you buy a leash it’s quite unlikely that you tell your friends about this wonderful piece of equipment that can keep your dog safe and assist you while training. A leash can be used to prevent your dog from practicing unwanted behaviors, and can help you train important behaviors like coming when called (AKA recall). Here are 5 types of leashes and things you should consider before purchasing one

The Standard Leash


This is the type of leash that springs to mind when you think of a leash, and it’s what you’ll likely use for the majority of your walks. The options within this category are growing, but generally they will range between 4-8ft in length and will be made of nylon, leather, rope or biothane.

Your decision on the length of the leash should be based on ease of handling and how far you want to allow your dog to drift. The leash should allow some slack, but not enough to become hazardous. If you live in NYC, legally your dog’s leash shouldn’t be more than 6ft.

The material you choose will be based on personal preference for how it feels in your hand, how much it weighs, durability, ease of maintenance and aesthetics (gotta have some fun with it!). Here are some of the pros and cons of these common materials:


Pros: Lightweight, easy to handle, comes in a vast variety of designs and colors, can be easily washed, and can double as a drag line for training and is very affordable.

Cons: Absorbs moisture and becomes heavy when wet, least resistant to wear & tear. 

Check out: PetSafe Nylon Dog Leash | $5.29



Pros: Durable, stylish, soft, water resistant and long lasting if properly maintained.

Cons: Requires some breaking-in, needs regular oiling and cleaning to maintain condition.

Check out: Lovethybeast Rolled Leather Leash | Price: $49.99



Pros: Strong, durable and easy to maintain.

Cons: Cotton and nylon versions absorb water, generally heavier, some are stiff/bulky.

Check out: Found My Animal Rope Leash with Leather Handle | Price: $54.00



Pros: Strong, lightweight, smooth finish, waterproof, very easy to clean.

Cons: Some can be stiff or bulky.

Check out: Primal Pet Gear Biothane Leash | Price: $14.95 (usually $21.95)

The Double Handled Leash


Basically the same as a standard leash, but with an extra handle that is located near the clasp that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness. This option allows you to easily and securely draw your dog closer to you. This is especially helpful if you have a large dog that needs a little extra management in high traffic areas. These leashes will be heavier and bulkier than a standard leash. It’s also important to keep an eye on the extra handle as it can get caught on things.

Check out: Loops 2 Double Handle Nylon Leash | Price: $21.56

The Retractable Leash


Retractable leashes were designed to provide you with the option of a short leash or a long leash depending on your situation. The leash automatically retracts when your dog is near you and extends as your dog pulls away from you. You also have the option to easily lock the leash at one length with the click of a button. It’s a great idea, but it comes with some pretty major downsides. 

Some thoughts before purchasing this type: 

Firstly, this type of leash rewards your dog for pulling. As your dog applies pressure on the leash, the leash extends and they are granted access to the object of their desire. 

Secondly, the handle is bulky and heavy. I’ve used many different types of leashes and this is the only type that I’ve accidentally dropped (don’t tell anyone). I’ve seen them dropped by other people enough to know that it’s not just me being clumsy. 

Thirdly, the leash itself is made of thin nylon tape or rope and comes with safety precautions to prevent injuries such as cuts, burns, finger amputation or fractures. Other injuries are also possible to you and your dog if they reach the end of the leash with force.

Lastly, the more space there is between you and your dog, the more difficult it is to manage their safety. This is especially true within big cities.

That said, many people find this type of leash convenient and if the above considerations don’t concern you, this product is widely available.

Check out: Petacc Retractable Dog Leash | Price: $16.99

The Adjustable Leash


Adjustable leashes are becoming more widely available and are designed to allow the ability to use one leash in a variety of ways. Most commonly, they can be used as:

  • A standard leash with the ability to adjust the length.
  • A hands-free leash that straps over your shoulder or around your waist.
  • A leash that can be simultaneously clipped to front and back attachments of a harness.
  • A leash that allows you to walk two dogs with the same leash.
  • A leash with a convenient way of tethering your dog briefly to a stable object.

Whilst this hasn’t replaced the need for a standard leash for me, I have one and I love it. I find the hands free option fantastic for walking or jogging with a dog with good leash skills. The tethering option is also very convenient for outdoor dining and some early obedience training like polite greetings.  

Check out: Found My Animal Adjustable Rope Leash | Price: $62.00

The Long Line Leash


Long lines are leashes that generally range from 10-50ft and are commonly made of nylon cord, nylon tape or biothane. This type of leash is not designed for neighborhood walks. They’re training tools that provide you with a safety net whilst you teach your dog skills like swimming, obedience at distance or recall. It takes some time to become proficient at managing the leash to prevent tangles.  When using a long line choose a nice spacious area where you have sufficient space to work without being hazardous or of hindrance to your fellow citizens.

Check out: Mighty Paw Check Cord 30ft Training Leash | Price: $14.99

So, which leash do you choose? With the exception of a retractable leash, I have all of them and then some! I would argue that each has a time and a place, but if you’re looking to invest in one big ticket item or are of the minimalist persuasion, a standard 6ft leash is where I’d direct you.   

Do you have a leash collection at home for your dog? What’s your favorite?