Leashes Unleashed!

Yeah! I am into retail therapy. The quirky part, however, is that I get my shopping fix at pet shops.  Consequently our household has tried dog foods of all kinds, treats of all kinds, leashes & collars of all kinds and toys of all kinds. So! here is a dump of the different kinds of leashes available in the market & their utility.

When I walk about leashes, I also need to talk about collars and harnesses at the same time. You might wonder why omit all other things like shampoos, dog foods etc… Well, to my mind, leashes are critical. The wrong leash and collar can be lethal. And with the right leash and collar and loads of love and some simple training techniques, even the strongest of dogs can walk well. Nishi is 40kgs of all muscle and excitement and energy. So, I have given this a lot thought. Hence, I can write something that could perhaps be useful.

Collars & Harnesses

Ok. So, let me start with one end of the leash…the dog. We have 2 options to fasten a leash to a dog – The Harness or The Collar. Nishi has both, each serving a distinctly different purpose. She has a thin metal collar that sports a pretty name tag and a bell. I have heard of too many cases of lost dogs and I’d like to believe that having that name tag, with our number on it is wise. I never want to take it off, ever. Hence the choice of metal, so that I don’t have to take it off, even when it’s wet.

But we NEVER use this to leash her. Choke chains, pinch chains and collars are known to damage a dogs trachea, neck & spinal chord. So we use a body belt or a harness. Turid Ragaas, one of my favorite trainers explains very well the kinds of harnesses and helped me decide to get a 2-stage harness for her. We have all these products available in pet stores in Bangalore.So, a good harness, in our experience, is a good investment, well worth it’s money in gold. In Bangalore, I have found Puppia, Karlie and Rogz market 2-stage harnesses.  There are some specialty harnesses/collars too.

  • One of them is the Halti. It is supposed to help reduce pulling. I personally prefer training her not to pull, rather than using a product like Halti. So, I never went for it. Hence, there is not much I can tell about a Halti. 
  • There are pinch and choke collars. I personally despise these and NEVER use them to leash Nishi. It is inhumane to use this product – Read the PETA article. And if you want to use it, this blog is not going to be useful to you. I like to handle my Nishi with tender love and care. So I don’t buy into any argument that says that “some dogs need it”.
  • There are also purely ornamental collars. I use these on Nishi frequently, as the function of leashing her is done by the harness. So the collar is used ornament-ally and to sport her name tag. 
  • Handmade Ornamental Collar
  • I also found one with LED lights on it. I was tempted to buy it to put on her on vacations, when she runs away in the dark. But these were not water proof. So my opinion – thumbs down!
  • One thing that I am on a look out for, but don’t find frequently is collars with a reflective surface on it. These are occasionally available in the market and I am always on the look out for it. These are again useful to find her in the dark especially because she is so dark. Nishi, indeed (we named her Nishi, because Nishi means “the night” in sanskrit)

When Nishi goes out for a short walk to relieve herself, we sometimes put a collar on her. In this case, we get a collar that has padding on the inside, so that it does not cut into her neck. We also pick a collar with a strong quick-release buckle, instead of the metallic buckles seen on belts. This encourages us to remove the collar as soon as we get back, thus not leaving marks on her neck. The dog I had when I was growing up lost all his fur on his neck because he had a collar on at all times. Collars kept on at all times can also get damp. Damp collars harbor infections and fungus and have to be frequently changed and aired. So, I am quite keen not to keep a collar on at all times for Nishi.

Traditional Metallic Buckle
Quick Release Buckle

Leashes & Tethers 

Now, the leash. To determine the right kind of leash, what matters is the other end of the leash – which most times is me or my husband – the walker. So large part of picking the right leash is based on my comfort. Nishi does a good job of Loose Leash Walking. But she is an excitable girl and will lunge when she sees something exciting. So, the leash needs to be comfortable on my hands, strong, reliable and predictable. The other occasion when I use a leash is when we tether her to something. We frequently take her to restaurants, friends houses or on vacations. On several such occasions we need to tether her. So that is the other criteria. Here is the long and short of several of the products I have seen in the market.

Warnings from Flexi Website

Retractable Leashes 

These can be extremely convenient, especially for Indian city walking. When we take Nishi out, she decides to go into empty sites or go explore on top of sand piles and we don’t have to go in with her. We can stand a safe distance away and let her explore. You know what I mean…no need to step on muck, leave that up to her 🙂 Having said that, there are some things to remember.

  1. The quality of the product matters a lot because there is a spring mechanism involved. So we have ended up buying a poor quality product, where the spring gets ruined in no time. Flexi is be best quality I have seen available in he market today.
  2. These come in 2 types: tape and string. Both have their advantages. The Tape tends to get twisted, if you extend it too much. The String can cut or burn into skin quite easily. I have experienced both.
  3. There is much debate on the safety of this product. Check out the warnings that are extracted from the Flexi website. This blog post discusses the Flexi pros and cons in a bit more detail: The Great Flexi Debate

So, bottom line: I am not a fan of this product. But my husband is. So we try to use it sparingly. I want to find a good leash to tie the flexi to my husbands waist, so that the device does not run after Nishi, if he accidentally drops it. Will update the post, if this works. As of now, I remain skeptical on this. 

String/Chord Retractable Tape Retractable

 

Non-retractable leashes 

Ergonomic Leashes – easy on the hands

These come in chains or fabric. Obviously, I prefer fabric, because I am the one, who is going to be at the other end of the leash and I am no masochist to put my hand in chains. The fabric leashes too come as flat ribbons or rounded ropes. But what matters more to me is not the ribbon or rope, but the loop that I will be holding on to. Several leashes today come with a good amount of padding in that loop. That makes it very comfortable to hold. In fact, I recently saw an “ergonomic” leash. It’s pricey. But if it works, it might be worth the money considering how strong Nishi is. At the end of the day, what matters is that it needs to be comfortable for the walker. Regarding the strength of the leash, obviously, strong dogs will need strong leashes. What is perhaps a bit less obvious is the weight of the leash. Tiny dogs and puppies will need light leashes. It’s not just the weight of the rope or tape, but also the hook that hooks to the collar. That metallic piece could sometimes be heavy, even if the rope/tape is thin or weak.  So, I have learned to look specifically at that piece and get something light for the puppies I foster.

My favorite tether that is also a great leash,
with sufficient padding to offer a comfortable grip

Tether 

We have several tethers of different lengths. We use relatively shorter ones for restaurants and friends houses. We use longer ones for resorts and gardens, where we are ok with her running around, but don’t want her to leave our sight entirely. One thing we have experienced is that having a hook at the tethering end is useful, especially if we want to tether her to cafe & restaurant tables.

Floor pegs 

My brother-in-law recently picked up this product that I thought was fabulous, particularly because we take Nishi everywhere with us, even to places that have nothing I can tether her to. It is a peg that screws into the ground. We are often at Airlines Hotel, getting ourselves a dosa and buying Nishi some idlis. We just screw this into the earth and tada! We are all sorted, we stand by the car, eat our dosas and idlis, get our filter coffee and are on our merry way.

We recently picked up a variation of this tether with a spring attached to it. Dogs on such a long leash can forget they are on it and bolt. A sprint in the tether can cushion the pull when the dog reaches the end of the leash and I love this product.
Portable screw-in peg along with a 15m tether – a must have for gardens and vacations

Where to Shop

I bet this is a lot of information. So here is a quick list on where you can find several of these products. For most of the products I visit one of 2 stores:
  1. Paws, the pet store: This is off brigade road. The shop & collection of products is awesome, but the approach is poor and parking is hard. But good news is that they have a website and a good facebook page with product details AND they will deliver the product home – http://www.pawsthepetstore.com/ . Wonderful owners who will give you prompt responses on facebook, if you have product queries. Do check out their Puppia Harness. I swear by it.
  2. Glenands, Koramangala: There are multiple Glenands stores. But I have only been to the one in Koramangala and I simply love it. I have seen the ergonomic leashes only here. Also, one very cool thing is that you can buy a nametag for your dog and get it etched then and there, in 2 minutes. I just love that. I gift nametags to all dogs I know 🙂 GLENANDS PET SHOP # 475, 1st Cross, 5th Block, KHB COLONY, KORAMANGALA, BANGALORE 560098. Phone: 40927524. Mobile:9739000950
  3. Shreenidhi Vet Pharma: This is the only place I have found the portable screw in peg. It’s a good combination of a pet shop as well as a vet pharma. A good place to stop off for people in North Bangalore. Shreenidhi Vet Pharma, No. 49, Opposite to Veterinary College, Bellary Road, Ganganagar, Bangalore – 24. Ph: 23533238

There are other online shops. But for Collars & Leashes it is best done in person, as the fit and the feel has to be just right. So I always take Nishi while shopping for these and will try it on, pull and tug and see how it feels in my hand and how Nishi reacts to these, how easy it is to put on and take off etc…and only then pick them up. 

So, this is my take on collars, harness, leashes and tethers. If there is anything available in the market, worth mentioning, please do leave me a comment. I am very interested in knowing about all of them and trying out all of them. Meanwhile happy walking 🙂

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