Monday, December 21, 2015

A Leash fit for Walking

A cheap farm store leash, two carabiners and a figure 8 loop knot
A second 'biner attaches the leash to my belt or backpack.
With a few simple modifications a cheap leash can become an adaptable tool.  While a well-trained dog is more fun to walk than an untrained or poorly trained one, good tools make the experience more joyful regardless of the team's skill level.

Needs can change many times in the course of a walk, especially in the city.  Maybe I encounter an unexpected crowd leaving a concert.  Maybe we come across some unexpected work site.  Sometimes, I just want to carry a cup of coffee and eat a cinnamon roll was we navigate the city streets.  Cribbing off of the Kurgo "Quantum," and the European Six Way my current go to set up is a farm store leash  modified in a manner that allows me to quickly adapt to circumstances.

With nearly any leash the first thing I do is saw
Two leashes, two dogs, two fingers.
off the clip on the dog end and replace it with a carabiner.  There are two problems with the typical bolt snap fastener found on most dog leashes.  The first is that they start to fail in relatively short order.  Secondly, they fail a little bit at a time and it is easy to ignore it as it comes loose.  More than once I have had a dog pop off the lead unexpectedly.  Luckily each time the dog remained under my verbal control until I could refasten it.  If the circumstances or the dog had been different, the result could have been a lost dog.

Taking a hacksaw to the metal cut the fastener while being careful to avoid damaging the leash.  When removed a carabiner will slip into the loop already sewn into the leash to hold the earlier fastener.

If you don't replace the fastener immediately, I highly recommend replacing the clip at the first sign of deterioration. 

I prefer carabiners are superior because when they start to fail, the failure is obvious and the can be quickly switched out.  Even a cheap farm store 'biner will last me six months or more of heavy

use.  I've yet to have to replace one designed to be weight bearing.  They are also easier to use when wearing gloves in cold weather.  Just make sure it will fit the loop on your dog's collar before buying.

A second carabiner is attached to the loop end of the leash so it can easily lashed to your backpack or belt, allowing maximum freedom to you and your dog.  Personally I keep a large locking carabiner on my belt (yes, carabiners are among my favorite tools) which allows for quick attachment/release of the leash.  This is especially valuable when walking more than one dog when one leash can be quickly released, the leashes can be untangled, and then quickly re-attached.

I can haz roll too?
 When walking one dog, the leash can hang loose attached to the belt while you drink coffee or a roll.  If walking more than one dog the easier dog can be walked attached to the belt while the other leash is kept in the hand.

Most the time I keep the leashes in my hand but attached to my belt so I can drop them when there is a need.

Finally, I tie a Figure Eight Loop knot into the leash about 2/3 up from the collar end of the leash to the handle.  This is the key to the leash's flexibility in use.

While walking down the street with the leash attached to my belt (allowing both the dog and me a maximum amount of freedom) I can quickly reach down and use the knot to gain tighter control when a cat crosses our path or when a cyclists comes unexpectedly around a corner.

At other times I can slip the loop onto the 'biner on my waist, making the leash shorter and keeping the dog closer while continuing to keep my hands free.

Conversely, removing the leash from my waist, I use the leash's second carabiner to attach to the loop in the leash.  This can be used to secure the dog to post when I need to use a porti-potty, enjoying a beer on a patio, or running into a bakery for a second serving of cinnamon roll and coffee or to just create a larger loop for ease of use.

The most important ingredient in keeping walking fun is a dog that shares your expectations but proper tools can help you educate your dog on those expectations but also make the difference when those expectations are upturned.  The proper tools do not have to be expensive tools.

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