The Leash is the most important piece of equipment a professional dog trainer can own, as well as the average dog owner. The Leash is a personal choice for each handler. You may also hear the leash referred to a Lead. We will discuss the different options as well as the pros and cons of different types of leashes or leads.


What is the difference between a Leash and a Lead?

This ia a common question we hear all the time. Even to us, it sounds a bit odd … but the difference between a leash and a lead is that a leash is used to restrain and a lead is used to lead. That kinda sounds weird, when it pertains to a dog.


Types of Leashes or Leads

  • Nylon Leash

The Nylon Leash is the most common leash found in households across America. They can be found at most stores and are rather cheap when it comes to cost. Nylon Leashes will work for most household handlers. Most professional trainers do not like to use them, due to “nylon burn”. Nylon Burn happens when the leash slips in the hand or works back and forth across the hand when handling the dog.

  • Leather

Leather Leashes or Leads are the common choice for the professional handler. Leather offers a few different features that are attractive to professional handlers. With Leather, you can obtain a higher strength, with less hand bulk. For example … Nylon is a strong material, when produces in a thicker style leash, which means you will tend to find a mass of nylon in your hand when holding the leash, whereas the strength of leather can be obtained in a thinner or smaller diameter strap. Another advantage of Leather Leads is the spring or elasticity found in this type of leash. For example … when training for sport or bite work, especially during the agitation phase, having a bit of spring in the lead is imperative for saving the dogs neck from harsh contact with the collar.Leather tends to last alot longer than most other types of leashes or leads. With proper care and maintenance, a good leather leash can last nearly forever. As a former police officer and a professional handler at Dayton Dog Trainer, my first leather lead lasted for 21 years. I would probably still be using that lead, had I properly taken care of it. With a bit of leather cleaner and conditioner … leather will last a very long time. Another great feature to working with a leather leash, is the fact you get less hand slip. Leather is easier to work with, once properly broken in.When you first purchase a leather lead, you will find that the leather is very stiff and isn’t that pleasant to work with. You can remedy this a couple different ways. You can relax the leather by conditioning it several times, as well as heating it up while a liberal amount of conditioner is on it. We like to place the leash in the oven for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees Another good product that works, is the same treatment you use when you have a new leather baseball glove. It also suggests the oven, while there product is on the leash. However you decide to relax the leather … once you have successfully relaxed the leather … the leash is like butter. Super smooth, easy to work with and once you have your leash in this condition, you may never use any other type of leash.

  • Chain

Chain Leashes are the worst type of leash, ever invented … in our opinion. Unlike Leather, Ram-Tech or Biothane … Chain leashes are not comfortable to work with. They are heavy, loud, provide a massive hand bulk, if you can even double up the leash in your hand.The biggest issue we find with Chain leashes, is that unintentional corrections are delivered to the dog, due to the weight, sway and chain hop. When you’re attempting to provide direction or praise to your dog, the chain’s weight can provide minor corrections to the dog, making them think they have done wrong. Also … you may find yourself being hit in the face with the chain, while providing correction to the dog. This is not pleasant. We suggest you get rid of any chain leashes you may have and move to either a leather leash or nylon leash.

  • Ram-Tech or Biothane

Ram-Tech is a brand of Biothane. Biothane leashes are an alternative to leather. Biothane is a great product, used by many professional or working handlers in the field. Commonly used by police or military handlers, biothane is great choice for several reasons.With no need for maintenance, like leather … Biothane leashes tend to also last forever, without the quarterly conditioning. Biothane is impervious to water, ice, thorns or any other art of your natural surroundings. Like leather, Biothane leads are easy to handle, without the hand bulk or slippage. These leashes are truly a top of the line material that can take the abuse that most other leashes won’t. We also like Ram-tech Leashes due to the fact you don’t need a ton of material to have a strong leash. Less material with strength, makes for a lighter leash. This works to combat unintentional correction or stimulation to the dog.

  • Long Line

Long Lines are used to train for a few different commands as well as job deployment. Commonly, long lines are used when training recalls, scent detection, bite work, tracking, area searches and many other applications.  Long lines allow the dog to perform its task or job, without having a handler next to them. These are typically used later on in the training or when on the job. The most common types of long lines are made of either cotton, leather, nylon or biothane. Long lines provide freedom to the dog, with control for the handler.

  • Traffic Lead

Traffic Leads are typically a short leash, used during police canine patrol or roadside narcotic sniffs of a vehicle. It allows the handler to keep his or her dog close to them, intern keeping them safer from passing traffic or crowds.  Traffic Leads will sometime be called backup leads. Commonly worn around the waist of the handler, as a quick backup to a failing leash or can even be deployed quickly for different applications.

  • Tie Out

A Tie Out is a long line, normally tethered to the ground by a ground stake. These can be used for a couple different applications, such as simply tying the dog out in the yard, giving them a 25 foot to 50 foot radius to run and play. On the professional side, tie outs can be used during bite work training or agitation training.