Types of dog leashes for training and walking

Types of Dog Leashes for Training and Walking

Choosing the right dog leash can be difficult, especially for those who are first-time dog owners. There are different types of dog leashes for training and walking, and it is important to know when to use which type of dog leash.

Flexi-leashes, leather leashes, training line or synthetic leashes? There are leashes in several different materials, lengths, thicknesses and with different functions.

You might also be interested in reading our comparison guide of the best dog leashes.

After 21 years as a dog owner, I have been able to test myself through several different variants and learned the advantages and disadvantages of different types of dog leashes.

I know exactly which leash and collars are best for me and my dog! However, the dog’s size, weight, temperament and activity level play a role for which leash is best for you and your dog.

In this article, I want to help you find the right one for you and your dog.

What to Consider for the Different Types of Dog Leashes

  • In which environments do you need a dog leash?
  • How big is your dog?
  • Short or long dog leash?
  • Which material?
  • Are flexi leashes good?

In Which Environments do You Need a Dog Leash?

Are you usually going for long walks in the woods or are you more of walking in the city’s green areas where you meet a lot of other dogs?

Are you running together? Do you like to walk with your dog or is it slower walks where the dog minds his own business? Do you track together, hunt or practice agility?

Think about what you prefer to do together, there are leashes for all different situations.

How Big is Your Dog?

Dogs that weigh a lot require thicker and stronger leashes, with small dogs it is often fine with simpler leashes. So the size and weight of the dog are of importance when choosing a leash.

It is thus the thickness of the leash that determines how much weight it can withstand. It usually ranges from 1/4 inch up to right about 1 inch.

Short or Long Dog Leash?

Types of leashes for walking your dogShorter leashes are well suited for urban environments where you often meet other people and dogs, it is also the best leash for obedience training etc. with your dog.

Long leashes are better suited for when you walk more undisturbed and the dog can get away a little further from you. A longer leash also means that you have less control over your dog and may not be suitable if your dog has aggressive behaviors against other dogs, pulls a lot or generally needs leash training.

Which Material?

Here it is primarily about personal taste, but also keep in mind that a leash should lie comfortably in your hand and not hurt if your dog would pull.

Best Leather Dog Leash
Leather is my favorite material when it comes to dog leashes, it is highly durable and looks good too. However, it is not recommended you use a leather leash on rainy days, as it can easily become brittle when it dries again. (Photo: Matthias Zomer / Pexels.com)

Believe me, some leashes burn holes in the skin if the dog snaps. You absolutely want to avoid it! Leather is thus a very nice material.

Are Flexi Leashes Good?

Flexi leashes are quite controversial. Personally, I don’t like it. It is jerky, uncomfortable and makes it difficult to both control and train your dog to walk nicely on a leash.

Therefore, I generally do not recommend flexi leashes to anyone, especially not for larger dogs. It can possibly be a working alternative for older people with small dogs who have difficulty keeping up with the dog’s pace. Then the dog gets a little more space to run and play.

Different Types of Dog Leashes for Different Purposes

As you can see above, one type of leash is rarely the solution for you and your dog in all situations.

For first-time dog owners, I think that a simple short leash or a multi-leash with adjustable length (not to be confused with flexi-leash) is the best option.

A classic, rounded leather leash is always a good choice and fits just as well for the first-time owner as the experienced dog owner. It is neat, durable and very comfortable, besides you don’t have to buy a collar. With a multi-leash you get both a short and a long leash and you can easily change the length depending on your needs and environment.

Short leash (up to 5 feet)

For training and obedience, a short leash is always recommended. The dog should go near you and you should easily be able to use the link to control the dog where you want.

Short leashes are also suitable for those who are moving in urban environments or walking along busy roads.

Short or long dog leash
Short leashes are generally 4 or 6 feet long. Keep in mind that it is easier to make a 6ft leash shorter, whilst it is impossible to make the 4ft leash any longer. Therefore it is recommended to opt for 6ft if you want a short leash. (Photo: Nicooografie / Pixabay.com)

Perhaps you are commuting with your dog in public transport? In that case, you want to have the dog as close to you as possible to avoid the dog going to other people or dogs.

If you have a dog that is aggressive towards other dogs, a short leash is also recommended.

Long Leash (from 6 feet)

If I could describe to you how bad it hurts when a rope or line of inferior quality winds around your leg and your young dog decides to run away. It burns the skin, and it is really unpleasant.

If you want to use a training line, be careful and make sure you know exactly where the line and the dog is.

The training line or track line is a great way to give your dog more freedom of movement in green areas and you don’t want to set your dog entirely free.

Multi-Leash – The Perfect Compromise?

Multi-leash, with which you can adjust the length, is a great compromise between a short and a long leash. Multi-leashes are usually made of synthetic or leather with 2-3 different hooks to attach in order to adjust the length.

When we walk among a lot of people and dogs in town I make it shorter, and when I want to give him more freedom, I extend it.

Thus, unlike flexi-leashes, you have far more control of your dog and it gives you and your dog greater freedom and mobility.

The only downside is that they sometimes feel a bit clumsy and heavy, but there are a couple of different good variants.

Elastic Leash

If you experience walking with your dog as jerky, a leash with elasticity could be something for you.

For those of us who live close to nature where dogs have the ability to run free, an elastic leash works wonders. When we are to cross a busy road or go into town, this leash is perfect. I get rid of the unpleasant jerks that can be when I walk fast and my dog suddenly stops. It also has a handle so I can keep my dog close when needed and thus have full control.

The disadvantage of elastic leashes is that they do not work just as well to correct a dog’s unwanted behaviors.

This leash is perfect for those who want elasticity and who also like to run or walk with their dog. With an accompanying waistband, you can choose to run or walk completely hands-free, which is very comfortable.

Check out this video to learn more about the different types of dog leashes for training and walking.

Why I Don’t Like Flexi-Leashes

Flexi-leashes, in theory, is great. It gives you and your dog freedom of choice and freedom of movement. The dog can easily switch between running far ahead or walking close by. But there are several problems:

  1. Learn your dog to use different types of leashes, not just one because it is convenient for you! – The dog does not learn to understand the difference between when it should stay close (for example when meeting with others) or when it can run around.
  2. It’s inconvenient and jerky! – The dog jumps back and forth until the leash runs out because then it abruptly stops. These constant jerks are neither good for you nor for your dog.
  3. You have little to no control over your dog, especially big dogs.


For puppies and young dogs who want to learn to walk on a leash, it is good to start with a simple and short leash or a multi-leash where the length can be adjusted from short to slightly longer.

When your dog has got into the habit of going on a leash, you can start experimenting with rope or elastic leashes. The reason why an elastic leash is not always suitable for puppies and young dogs is that it is more difficult to correct unwanted behaviors.

For those of you who like long walks with your dog, I highly recommend an elastic leash with a waist belt.