How Do You Use a Slip Lead as a Head Collar? (Solved & Explained!)

It is easier to purchase a head collar and this will be a stronger and more reliable option, but if you want to use a slip lead as a head collar then this is what you will need to do.

Note: You will need a plastic stopper for this process:

  1. First you want to make enough space so that the collar length can reach from the throat to the center of the nose.
  2. Next, take this length and twist it into a figure 8.
  3. Place the loop closest to the lead termination loop around your dog’s neck, and pull the remaining outer loop over the nose.
  4. You will need to clip the stopper in the center to secure the loops, as this is not how a slip lead is designed to normally be used.
  5. Once you have done this, you now have a makeshift head collar!

Again, it is recommended that you simply purchase a figure 8 lead, as this will be a more reliable option, but with these steps you can certainly produce a makeshift head collar that works in a pinch.

For the remainder of this article, we’ll tell you a little more a about slip leads and what you need to know. Are they cruel? Do vets recommend slip leads? Read on to find out – the answers to these questions and more are waiting for you below.

Do slip leads stop pulling?

Yes, slip leads do stop pulling, but they are recommended by proponents of the slip lead to only be used with dogs that are already quite familiar with walking, in an attempt to improve walking obedience. A slip lead works by constricting against the throat of a dog when they pull too far away.

As this method uses animal distress to control your dog, it is not really recommended, but slip leads definitely work and even vets will use them, on occasion, to control a dog that needs to get care but is resistant to being led.

Ultimately, it’s a judgement call, but we don’t recommend them for standard walking – you can accomplish the same thing with a harness and a lead and while this is slower, it’s safer for the dog.

Do slip leads work well without training?

No, without training, a dog is more likely to bolt when they are outside and spot something that they wish to investigate. This puts immediate and sharp pressure on the throat and prolonged exposure to this can actually damage a dog’s trachea.

A slip lead should only be used in cases where a dog is already a fairly obedient walker and you are merely looking to improve the way that they walk. These dogs can do quite well with a slip lead, as it will remain slack as long as the dog stay obediently close.

Do dog trainers recommend slip leads?

Many dog trainers do recommend them, although vets so not – even though a vet will use them on occasion. Slip leads are popular at dog shows, but outside of this they are about as common as harness and lead walking.

For a dog that is normally quite the obedient walker, a slip lead can help to teach them to walk more in time with their owner, but these leads should not be used for ‘novice walker’ dogs – it will mostly cause them distress and possible harm if the dog keeps bolting.

Do vets recommend slip leads?

No, vets do not recommend the use of slip leads, although they commonly use them when treating dogs, as this is the most expedient way to manage a dog that doesn’t know the person handling them.

Most vets will recommend a harness and lead setup, so that instead of creating force on a dog’s throat, any leash-tugging force will be redirected to the front or back clip on the harness. This allows the dog to pull a bit more until you get used to it, but it’s considered the most humane approach.

What is the best time to use a slip lead?

The best time to use a slip lead is when you need to load or unload your dog from a car, when you need to manage them at a vets office and they are behaving unpredictably, or for granular walking training for a ‘veteran walker’ dog.

While not the favored way to manage a dog, sometimes slip leads are useful when other options have failed. That said, you should limit it to transport, vet management, or possible additional walking training in preparation for a dog show.

Can you walk a dog on a slip lead?

You could, but it’s not a good idea. A slip lead is going to put pressure on a dog’s throat, so if your dog tries to run somewhere on their own then they are going to receive a painful, sharp pressure at the center of their throat.

Over time, this can damage your dog’s trachea, and with alternative means of walking your dog, there’s really not much call for using a more oppressive slip lead. A front or back clip harness with a 6 foot nylon lead is a much safer option.

What age can you use a slip lead?

That will really depend on your dog, just don’t use a slip lead on a puppy that hasn’t learned to walk properly yet. Slip leads are not intended to be the first introduction to walking, as a dog is likeliest to pull against it quite early on.

Slip leads are more of an advanced training tool, though once your dog is walking obediently on their own then you can upgrade to a slip lead to refine their training.

What size slip lead should I get?

When selecting a slip lead for your dog you should consider their weight. A dog that is under 50 pounds will do just fine with a lead that is 4 to 6 feet in length and 3/8 of an inch thick.

 Larger dogs which are in the weight range of 50 to 250 pounds will need the same 4 to 6 foot length, but also a thickness of ½ an inch in order to ensure management with reduce risk of breakage from the lead.

Are slip leads cruel?

This is a subject of much debate but as a slip lead is a management option that uses force, throat constriction, and animal distress to control a dog, it is safe to say that it is not the kindest option. Use of a slip lead may even result in your dog not wanting to walk in the first place!

It is better to go with a more humane option, such as a harness and a lead.

Is a harness better than a slip lead for a dog?

Yes, a harness is a much better and much more pleasant experience for your dog when it comes to walking. A harness fits around your dog’s body and is clipped to a lead either on the chest or on the center of the back.

This helps to ensure that when you tug on the leash, you aren’t sending a sharp pain to your dog’s fragile neck like you would with a slip lead. This makes the walk a much happier experience for your dog!