The average dog will do best on a 4ft leash. Given that most people live in urban or suburban areas where human and canine populations are getting more crowded all the time, it makes sense to prevent problems. Why walk your dog on a 6ft leash or more and then try to catch up after an emergency event occurs? By then, it’s just damage control at best, not proactive at all.

We do not agree with ‘loose leash’ training; you and your dog are set up for disaster. Teach your dog to walk next to you as the normal position. Give him permission with a command and letting the leash out so he can smell and mark along your walking route, but bring him right back into tight pack formation by your side (Heel). Proactive thinking, preemptive commands, and mindful leash control will set you both up for safer walks.

Two handed leash hold will prevent problems and reduce reaction time if something happens.

We recommend that you avoid bungee type leashes and handles that are too rigid to conform to your wrist (e.g. neoprene tubing on wrist band).

Anything that distracts you (poop bags tied on or near the leash handle) or could be harmful (poop bag holders hanging on metal carabiners) from holding the leash should be removed.

Do not wrap the leash around your hand or twist it through your fingers; this is a great way to get broken bones (based on a law of physics called torque). If you find yourself doing this, then the leash is too long or you’re not holding it with two hands as you should. With one wrist through the wrist band and grasping the leash, the length of the leash crosses your body to the other hand to restrain your dog. This way, the tension is distributed between your 2 arms and you are less likely to be pulled off balance.

The expression of keeping someone “on a short leash” means something. It sends your dog a message that you are in control. With the right tools (collars, leashes), daily obedience practice, and daily walks, your dog is less likely to pull and you can both enjoy leash walks safely. Please – never tie your dog outside on any leash or length of rope or runner.

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, Dip. ACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist and founder of If you need help with a misbehaving pet, please visit

© Stefanie Schwartz 2019