How Savvy Dogsters Can Spot the Safest Dog Leashes

After years of walking strong pulling dogs, I've had several instances of collar malfunctions we're talkingpoorly stitched, brittlecollars that actuallybroke in the middle of a...

 |  Feb 17th 2012  |   19 Contributions


After years of walking strong pulling dogs, I've had several instances of collar malfunctions we're talkingpoorly stitched, brittlecollars that actuallybroke in the middle of a busy city intersection but I never had a leash malfunction on me untilvery recently.

While out walking Desiree, my German Shepherd, something caught her attention and she began doing what I call her Joe Cocker impersonation. All that lunging and flailing caused the clasp on her leash to undo itself. Desiree was standing in the middle of a grassy parkway, with traffic going in two directions on either side. The moment she realized she was not tethered to me, she gave me a twinkly-eyed look that clearly said "Cool!!!", then turned tail and began giving chase.

I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Finally, Desiree stopped long enough for me to grab her collar, which thankfully had stayed on her neck. I'd left the worthless leash behind, and it was dark out, so I didn't want to hunt for it while holding this high-energy creature by the collar.

The stress of this experience is not something I wish to repeat. So, in theinterest of preventinganother leashmalfunction,I decided touse only high-quality reflective leashes like the one by Sporn pictured above, and toeducate myselfabout leash hardware and what kinds are the safest.

The type of clasp on the leash that malfunctioned was designed to snap onto the D-ring of a dog's collar for ease and convenience.It looked like this -->

But dog walking isn't about convenience; it can be a fabulous form of fitness, but not unlike mountain climbing, it requiresreliable gear, or your routineouting could quickly become a matter of life or death. A leashshould bemuch more than a style statement; ithas tobe a high-performance tool to which you entrust the safety of your beloved canine companion.

Needless to say, I won't be using any leash ending in this type of clasp ever again, and I recommend you don't either.

Most leashes attach to a dog's collar with a standard snap hook (<-- like this). This hardware is fine for small to medium dogs who are not strong pullers, or jumpy Joe Cocker impersonators like Desiree. However, when standard snap hooks become wet, rust can make the lever harder to operate. And invery coldweather, a rusty snap hook can actually freeze up andunclasp unexpectedly.

Inventor Joseph S. Sporn has spent the past25 years creating performance dog products including the often-imitated Sporn No-Pull Harness that don't let dogs or their handlers down. Before building his dog-daycare company, Yuppie Puppy, into a $12 million enterprise, he was an in-demand dog walker, so he knows all about preventing leash malfunctions. And his choice for the safest, most reliable leash hardware is the trigger snap hook

(below).

"Our leashes are made for folks who are daily dog-walkers, who have constant use of the leash," explains Sporn, who subjects his designs to rigorous testing. "As you can see, the larger thumb lever on the trigger snap is much easier to use, especially for women with long nails. The trigger snap is not only easier but also safer, because ithas a stronger spring mechanism and provides an overall better strength than a standard leash snap hook. And in wet orfreezing weather, the trigger snap still opens and closes freely."

Here's another advantage oftrigger snaps: "Theyare easier to attach and quicker to prevent a dog from running off," Sporn concludes. "In pull strength tests, hardware failure tends to be the number one culprit over failure of a stitch point. The trigger snap is typically thicker than conventional snap hooks at the point where the most stress is put on it, making it the superior choice for larger breed dogs that lunge or pull against the leash."

What's your experience with leash hardware? Please share thoughts, tips, and recommendationsin the comments!

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