What Is a Figure of 8 Dog Lead? (Solved & Explained!)

A ‘figure of 8’ dog lead is a modified slip lead that is twisted up into a figure 8. It is designed so that you can fit it by putting one loop on your dog’s neck, while a smaller loop is put on your dog’s nose.

When you are walking your dog and they try to pull away, the figure of 8 tightens at the nose and the throat until your dog relaxes and stops pulling. The intent is not so much the management through constriction, but rather that this type of lead allows you to keep your dog from fixating on one spot.

So, with a figure of 8, if your dog sees a cat or a trash can that might have something yummy in it, a tug on the lead makes them look towards you, rather than the object of their attention so that you can lead them away before they stop staring and start pulling!

In this article, we’ll tell you a little more about these kinds of leads, based on questions trending highly on the web this week regarding the figure of 8 leads. Can they help your dog to stop pulling when you walk them?

Read on to find out important information about this option before you purchase a figure of 8 lead of your own!

Note: If you click some of the links or pictures in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What does a figure of 8 lead do?

A figure of 8 lead is designed to pull and release, based on whether or not your dog is pulling against the lead. Like many restraining options, when your dog pulls away the lead will tighten and restrict their movement, relaxing once the dog stops putting pressure against it.

This is designed to be humane, but it should be noted that it does tighten up against your dog’s nose, as well as their throat, so there is still a potential for considerable discomfort with this lead.

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Can you use a figure of eight lead on a puppy?

You could, but it’s not recommended. When your dog is a pup it is generally better to teach them, rather than to restrain them.

At this age, they can learn quite easily to use a standard leash and collar or even better, a front or back clip harness with a lead so that there is no strain on their neck. By teaching them early, you get a head start at stopping bad behaviors before they can begin and become habitual.

Options such as figure 8 or gentle leaders should generally be reserved for ‘problem dogs’ that have learned bad habits and carried them into adulthood.

Are figure 8 leads any good?

Some dog owners report that these leads can be quite good for dogs that have resisted other options for walking, enough so that it can be said that there are cases when these leads might be quite the useful option.

While we wouldn’t recommend using these as your first option, they are certainly a consideration to keep in mind when other options are not received well or prove to be ineffective and an alternative lead is necessary.

Are Figure 8 leads cruel?

While largely considered humane, these types of leads do still tighten on your dog’s nose and throat, so they certainly wouldn’t be considered comfortable, even if they fall short of being cruel. That said, every situation is different and some dogs do require more discipline than others.

As such, since this sort of lead doesn’t fall into the same category as prong or shocking collars, it can be considered a potential option when you need one for a particularly difficult or often-distracted dog.

Do figures of 8 leads hurt dogs?

Without a little research, you could accidentally cause your dog quite a bit of discomfort with this sort of lead.

As it tightens at the nose and the throat, you should research this option and consider checking out training videos available through YouTube and other online options to ensure that you know exactly how it works and its recommended use.

As with many things, when used properly, these leads can be a great tool, but you need to do your homework!

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Is a Figure of 8 lead better than a regular leash?

That depends, but if we had to make a recommendation, we would say that a lead and a standard harness are the best way to start when training your dog to take walks outside. Rather than ‘forcing’ your dog to comply, a harness simply secures them so that you can use obedience training and treats to reinforce the rest.

With dogs that are easily distracted or quite set in their ways when it comes to pulling during walks, then a figure of 8 might be the better option. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call that you will have to make, though we recommend asking your vet for input before making your decision.

Do vets recommend a figure of 8 leads?

Yes, some vets do recommend a figure of 8 lead, so if yours does then it’s an option that you can try with confidence. That said, it is generally not a vet’s first recommendation, but rather something they might suggest if you are having consistent issues in controlling your dog.

How do I train my dog not to pull without a figure of 8?

The easiest method is to go with a harness, preferable to a front clip. A back clip harness will certainly work, but if your dog already has a habit of pulling, the chest clip will give you more control.

While walking, get into the habit of telling your dog to ‘sit’ from time to time and rewarding them with a treat when you do. This teaches them to listen more readily to your commands, which eventually will translate into an instant response when they try to pull and you tell them to stop and sit instead.

It takes a little time, but it works quite well, and even looks pretty sharp when your dog learns to sit and wait for your command, rather than haphazardly running towards whatever has caught their eye.

What is a figure 8 harness?

A figure of 8 harnesses is different from a figure of 8 lead and is just a harness used for dogs and cats where the straps are designed in the shape of the number ‘8’. These are similar to the type of climbing harnesses that humans use for safety when climbing.

Rather than fastening on the nose and neck, a figure 8 harness just has a loop for the front and a loop for the back, making them simply another variation of the standard harness.

Is a Halti lead better than a figure of 8?

A Halti is another training option that you might use and owners have argued over which one is the better option. A Halti works much like a harness on a horse, fitting on your dog’s head in a V-shape that is designed not to force your dog’s mouth shut.

A little pressure is still on the muzzle and throat, so it’s somewhat of a similar option. These types of head collars are also known as ‘head halters’ and ‘gentle leaders’.

Is a Slip Lead the Same as a Figure of 8 Lead?

No, a slip lead is not the same as a figure of 8 lead, so let’s take a look at how each of these leads functions so that you’ll have a clearer picture of how each design is intended to be used. First, a slip lead, at its most basic, is just a standard lead, with a metal ring fitted at the end.

By slipping the lead through the ring, you have a loop that you can place over your dog’s head, which will tighten if your dog tries to pull away or if you tug on it. Generally, this results in your dog stopping their resistance and moving closer to you so that the slipped lead will loosen on their throat.

A figure of 8 lead functions much the same as a halter on a horse. Pressure is put on the throat and the nose of your dog, with the intent that you can stop them from fixating on an animal, item, or location by tugging at the lead and getting them to look away or at you for further commands.

For the remainder of this article, we’ve collected questions trending highly this week from owners just like you. This questions cache will address the differences between these two popular collar types so that you can decide which training option will be best suited for your dog’s personality.

Let’s take a look at how they compare!

When would you use a slip lead?

When used properly, a slip lead can be quite an effective tool, so let’s take a look at the proper times to use one. A slip lead is most useful for the following:

  • When you need to transport your dog
  • For handling at the vet when you need to ensure that your dog is compliant
  • When your dog has already learned to walk with a standard lead and collar or harness and you want them to learn to walk closely next to you
  • Moving a nervous dog into and out of transport

These are all situations where a slip lead is going to be an effective option for use. While not everyone likes a slip lead, the ‘instant control’ that this method employs can be quite useful for a panicked dog or one which is acting out and not responding to other methods of management.

Does a slip lead stop a dog from pulling?

Yes, a slip lead stops a dog from pulling, but it does so by constricting a dog’s throat. When a dog pulls away, it tightens, which will cause most dogs to instantly stop to relieve this pressure.

This is quite effective in the short term, but if a dog still pulls away quite often then the prolonged pressure can have a cumulative effect, resulting in symptoms such as snoring, coughing, or worse if another method is not adopted.

Are slip leads cruel?

While they are considered to be socially acceptable, ultimately a slip lead is a form of choke collar. This is based on how it works. When the dog pulls away, force is exerted in the form of the lead constricting at the dog’s neck.

This makes it more difficult to breathe and stresses the neck when tugged by the owner or by a dog trying to pull against it anyway. While it is less constricting than an actual choke chain, the use of throat constriction as a restraining measure is not exactly considered an ideal or kind solution.

That said, they CAN be used humanely, but it requires experience and careful management on the part of the owner.

When would you use a figure of 8 lead?

A figure 8 lead might be used as a sort of compromise when a slip collar is deemed to be too constricting.

These collars exert some pressure on the throat, but also on the nose of the dog, and rather than used as a restraint the idea behind a figure 8 is that you can get the dog to turn its head and stop fixating on specific items, animals, or locations.

Does a figure of 8 lead stop a dog from pulling?

Yes, a figure of 8 lead can stop a dog from pulling, but you want to be careful with it as you would any restraining or training tool. Tugging too hard can cause a dog to move their head sharply, putting a lot of stress on its neck.

Are figure of 8 leads cruel?

A figure of 8 lead is considered to be less cruel than a slip collar and like a slip collar, can be quite effective if used with experience and sparingly at that.

Without experience from the owner, however, the pressure exerted on the throat and the nose of the dog can be quite uncomfortable, so this could be considered a cruel option if it is used incorrectly or relied on too much in the place of the patient, less-stressful training options.

Is a slip lead better than a figure of 8?

Arguably, a figure of 8 is less uncomfortable, in that it is more like a halter that you would use on a horse. Both methods have their caveats and advantages, however, and it is worthy of note that vets will often use a slip lead when they need to quickly take control of a dog.

Thus, for walking a figure of 8 might be the ideal choice, but for quick, assertive management the slip lead would be the superior option.

Is a slip lead to a choke collar?

Technically, yes, although it is unpopular to say that. The literal function of a slip lead is the management of a dog by exerting constricting force on the throat, so while it is a more acceptable form of a choke collar, it is hard to call it anything else based on its current design.

Is a figure of 8 lead to a choke collar?

While some force is applied to the neck, a figure of 8 lead is more of a ‘head collar’ than a choke collar. As the force is distributed between two points, it is considered uncomfortable, but not the same as a choke collar.

With a choke collar, a tug or a pull is met with immediate constriction targeted at the throat, but a figure of 8 collars is more in line with a horse’s halter as far as the way that it restrains a dog.

What is the best lead for walking my dog?

The best option for walking your dog is just a 6-foot nylon or leather lead used in conjunction with a chest or back clip harness. For problem dogs, the chest clip will afford you more control, but you can certainly teach your dog with a back clip as well.

They will be able to pull harder than they would with a collar, but if your dog is not huge then this is something that both of you will quickly get used to, and as long as it is only used for walking then it’s not going to hurt or choke your dog.

How Do You Fit a Figure of 8 Slip Lead?

Fitting a figure 8 slip lead takes a little practice, so it’s best to do this with a long-nosed stuffed animal if you can since they won’t wiggle around while you are ‘learning the ropes. That said, here are the steps for putting that lead on a dog:

  • With your dog standing to your left, make a ‘P’ shape out of your lead so that we have a loop that won’t tighten without an intentional effort.
  • Pull the ‘circle’ part of that ‘P’ over your dog’s head, so that it is at the throat.
  • Twist the lead underneath your dog’s head to make another loop, which goes over your dog’s nose, and should settle comfortably in the middle of it.
  • Attach your safety clip to suspend the figure of 8 in its current configuration and slide the stopped down so that you are leaving a space approximately 2 fingers wide.

Congratulations, you’ve just put a figure of 8 lead on your dog! For the remainder of this article, we’re going to talk more about this ‘horse harness for dogs’ known as the ‘figure of 8 slip lead’. Read on to get the answers to questions trending highly this week on the subject – important information is waiting for you below!

What does a figure of 8 lead do?

A figure of 8 lead is designed to essentially be like a horse halter for dogs. One loop goes over the nose, while the other loop goes over the throat so that the dog’s head may be controlled and the pressure is distributed between the throat and the nose – rather than just on the throat, like a choke chain or slip lead.

This allows you to redirect a dog’s attention when they fixate on something so that you can get them to focus and follow commands.

What is the advantage of using a figure of 8 lead?

The chief advantage is being able to divert your dog’s attention. Some dogs will fixate on a person, place, or thing, and getting their attention back can be next to impossible. With a figure of 8, you can get your dog to look away, and issue a command, and you have a higher chance of regaining their attention.

This is particularly useful with dogs that fixate, especially hunting breeds, and it is an option to use for dogs when nothing else seems to work.

Can you use a figure of eight lead on a puppy?

You can, but it is not recommended. At this early age, you should skip shortcuts and get to teaching your dog. Lessons can be absorbed very quickly by pups, provided that you keep training sessions minimal at 10 to 15 minutes at a time – any more than this and the pup gets overwhelmed or bored.

As such, a relatively oppressive measure that teaches by squeezing the nose and throat is not an ideal way to train a pup – think of it more as an option for when your dog is older and other attempts to get their attention have failed.

Are figure of 8 leads cruel?

While they aren’t as harsh as slip leads, they do use distress and discomfort to control your dog, which is not considered to be a kind approach. That said, they are certainly less distressing than a slip lead and much less distressing than a prong or an electric e collar.

Used properly, they can be a good tool, but research and training from someone who has used figure of 8 leads before should be heavily considered if you want to try this tool, otherwise, there is a lot of potential for discomfort to your dog – possibly enough that they won’t even want to take walks!

What is a figure 8 harness?

A figure of 8 harness is completely different from a figure of 8 lead. This type of harness is essentially just two circular loops, with one for the front legs and one for the back, and is a similar design to what humans use for safety when rappelling down a cliff face.

It’s just a simplified harness option and related to a figure of 8 lead in name only.

Is a figure of 8 lead better than a slip lead?

It depends on what you need it for. A figure of 8 lead is considered the kinder option of the two, but it’s best suited for dogs whose attention strays often so that you can get them to look at you and listen to commands.

A slip lead is the better option for loading and unloading dogs from transport and vets use them often to have more granular control of a dog that doesn’t know or barely knows them.

Slip leads are often used to improve walking skills as well, once a dog has already learned the basics, and they are a popular choice in dog shows.

When would I use a figure of 8 lead?

A figure of 8 lead might be useful if walking with a standard nylon lead and harness is still a very taxing affair and you can’t get your dog to stop fixating on a location.

The figure of 8 will let you ‘steer’ the dog’s head so that you can get them to look away from the object of their attention or get them to focus on you.

Mind you, a can halfway be filled will pennies also works, just shake it and your dog will look over in surprise, but some prefer the option of the ‘dog halter’ style figure of 8.

Is a figure of 8 the same as a choke chain?

No, a figure of 8 is not the same as a choke chain. While it applies pressure on the throat, part of the force is also on the nose, so while it might get uncomfortable for your dog it shouldn’t cut off their breath.

That said, there are still other options out there where you aren’t pulling around a dog’s head, and these should be considered – anytime something comes with warnings on use, it’s often best to simply avoid them for options that don’t present such caveats.

Do vets recommend a figure of 8 lead?

No, or at least if they do, it’s a small amount of a large number of vets around the world. Most often vets simply recommend a chest-clip harness and a 4 to 6-foot lead of proper thickness for managing a dog on walks.

That said, you will see vets using slip leads with dogs when you bring them in, but this is not an endorsement of slip leads, either. Vets just have proper training in their use and the slip lead is the most expedient means of controlling your dog in an emergency.

Is a figure of 8 lead better than a harness?

No, it is an alternative to a harness and standard lead, but the harness is considered to be the kinder option. A harness might put pressure on a dog’s shoulders, however, the risk of this becoming a problem is mitigated by simply putting it on as needed and taking it off whenever you get your dog home.

With a figure of 8, you can certainly command your dog’s attention with the control afforded, as it’s designed rather like a horse’s harness. That said, it still puts some pressure on the throat and the nose, making the harness the superior option.