At What Age Can I Use a Slip Lead? (Solved & Explained!)

Technically, you can start using one when a puppy is 8 weeks old, but we really don’t recommend it. When your dog is very young their necks are much more fragile, and so it’s better to use a standard lead and a harness to avoid putting pressure on your puppy’s neck.

That said, some people who show their dogs at shows will use a slip lead as a ‘fast’ way of getting their dog trained so that they will be ready for showing by 6 months of age. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but as a slip lead works by constricting on your dog’s neck you need to be careful.

Younger dogs don’t think twice about bolting and there is always a danger of too much pressure on the trachea or even a resulting sprain if you and your dog are very unlucky with the slip collar before your dog adjusts to it!

For the remainder of this article, we’ve gathered some popular questions about slip collars so that you can make an informed decision whether or not you should use one with your dog. Let’s take a look at what owners just like you have been asking about this popular lead option for walking and training your dog!

What is a slip lead?

A slip lead is essentially a lead and a collar in one, with a ring being suspended at the tip which you thread the lead through. When you tug on this or when your dog attempts to pull, the lead tightens at the throat, and then your dog stops pulling.

While this is popular option with dog owners, it is also potentially dangerous because of the way that it works – constricting on your dog’s throat – and so an alternative lead or careful use is advised if you are considering a slip lead.

Is it OK to use a slip lead on a puppy?

No, it’s not a good idea to use a slip lead on a puppy. When they are very young, while they might well be resistant to being on a lead in the first place, it’s better to skip the slip lead and simply try to teach them good habits.

A harness that you can attach the lead to by means of a clip at the chest or on the back is a good choice, as it takes the pressure off of your pup’s fragile neck and puts it on their back or chest instead.

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Will a slip lead stop my dog pulling?

Yes, if you have a dog that is very inclined to pull, a slip lead can be quite effective. That said, it’s also dangerous. Anything that puts pressure on the neck and with a slip lead, on the trachea, is definitely something that you want to use with care or avoid altogether if you can.

There are a number of options if your dog is still pulling you around with the harness, such as a figure of 8, which puts less pressure on the neck by dividing that pressure to put it on their neck and nose – much like a horse’s halter would.

What are the benefits of a slip lead?

Provided that it is used with care, a slip lead can certainly have some benefits. As it automatically tightens when your dog tries to wander off, over time a slip lead can teach your dog to walk calmy next to you.

A lot will depend on your dog and their specific temperament, but many owners say that slip leads have helped them out quite a bit – it’s ultimately a judgement call that you will need to make.

What size slip lead should I get?

When you are purchasing the slip lead, make sure that you check the fine print to see what type of dog it specifically intended for. That said, here are some size averages to help you to find the perfect one:

  • Dogs under 50 pounds – You should get 3/8 inch thick  by 4 feet long for smaller dogs, and 3/8 inch by 6 feet long for larger dogs that are still under 50 pounds.
  • Dogs 50 pounds and over – For larger dogs, you will require ½ inch thickness and 4 to 6 feet of length for your lead.

Are slip leads recommended?

While some owners swear by them, slip leads should be a ‘last-resort’ sort of option due to the way they work. Since they constrict the neck, severe pulling could potentially damage the trachea or at the very least put quite a lot of strain on your dog’s neck.

Try a harness first, so that all of the pull will be safely focused on the back, or get a chest clip to move the force there and to give you a little more control over your dog.

Is a slip lead better than a harness?

Well, technically they are quite different, as a lead is the same thing as a leash, but as far as the better walking option, a harness is always the preferred choice. Properly fitted, a harness can give you a lot of control over your dog without harming their neck in the process.

That said, they can pull a little harder without that pressure on their neck restricting them, but that’s the caveat for using the ‘nicer’ option.

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What kind of lead should I use instead of a slip lead?

A standard lead with a nice, padded harness is best, and you should choose one that is made of a durable nylon or even a hardy leather option. While you have to clean and oil leather from time to time, if you take good care of it then a leather lead can sometimes outlast even nylon – plus they’ve got a lot of style!

Can I use a figure of 8 lead instead of a slip lead?

Yes, you could use a figure 8 lead, and many owners find this a good compromise so that there is less pressure on the neck but their dog is also more tightly controlled until they can learn to stop trying to run everywhere.

They are also quite good when your dog tends to look at an area and obsess with it, as a figure of 8 lets you redirect their head to look at you so that you can give them a command or steer them in another direction.

Are slip leads cruel according to the RSPCA?

Yes, according to the RSPCA, slip leads fall into the same category as ‘choke chains’, in that they use distress and possible pain as a means of restraint and control. This is definitely something to consider when you are weighing in options for a lead.

Be sure to check around so that you know all of your options. In most cases, you can find an alternate solution that will work just fine and will be much safer for using with your dog.