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

A ‘figure of 8’ dog lead is basically 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 leads 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 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!

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What does a figure of 8 lead do?

A figure of 8 lead is designed to pull and to 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 really 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 not 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 of 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 absolutely 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, it is best that you 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 it’s recommended use.

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

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

That really depends, but if we had to make a recommendation, we would say that a lead and a standard harness is 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 judgement call that you will have to make, though we recommend asking your vet for input before making your decision.

Do vets recommend 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 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 for 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 harness is different from a figure of 8 lead, and is basically 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 basically 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 actually 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’.