You may have seen your veterinarian or dog trainer use a slip lead on your dog and wondered just why these professionals use this device. Whether you should use a slip lead on a dog at home depends on the situation and circumstances. In general, you should never use a slip lead unless it is the best option for the dog in question.
The rest of this article will detail just what a slip lead is, why some dog professionals like vets and trainers use them, when you should use a slip lead, and how to do so safely.
Table of Contents
- What is a slip lead?
- Are slip leads cruel for dogs?
- Why do vets and trainers use slip leads?
- When are slip leads dangerous?
- When should I use a slip lead on a dog?
- How do I put a slip lead on a dog?
- How do I remove a slip lead from a dog?
- What if my dog won’t stop pulling on the leash?
- What are some alternatives to slip leads?
- What is a head collar?
- What is a body harness?
What is a slip lead?
A slip lead is a collar and leash combined all-in-one. The lead has a ring on the end and it loops around itself, creating a loop which fits over your dog’s head in place of a detached collar. The way the slip lead is connected means that the ring at the end is free to slide back and forth, tightening around your dog’s neck when pulled.
Slip leads function similarly to a choke chain. Because of this, some people are entirely against slip leads, believing that they are cruel.
Are slip leads cruel for dogs?
Although slip leads do have the potential to be dangerous, they are not inherently cruel as long as they are being utilized properly and safely. It is crucially important to make sure that the dog is properly supervised as long as a slip lead is being used.
Used in the wrong situation, such as in an attempt to stop a dog from pulling on the leash, or used on a dog who is reactive to its surroundings, the sudden tightening around the dog’s neck can cause injury or even asphyxiation.
Why do vets and trainers use slip leads?
Vets and trainers use slip leads because they are often dealing with dogs who must be quickly transported—and dealing with dogs who do not wish to be secured.
Slip leads are easy to quickly slide over a dog’s head without having to lean in close to deal with clips, collars, or harnesses. They are very handy for securing a dog in an emergency situation. It is also helpful that slip leads are basically escape-proof.
When are slip leads dangerous?
Slip leads are especially dangerous when used on a dog who does not need one. Many people mistakenly believe that a slip lead will help train their dog to stop pulling on the leash. However, this is not true.
Many dogs pull on the leash due to something called thigmotaxis, or an opposition reflex. This means that your dog will instinctively pull against pressure. If a slip lead tightens around his neck, he will not understand what is happening, and may even pull harder.
If he continues to pull, there is a high possibility for damage to the sensitive parts of his neck. There have also been reported cases of dogs getting whiplash from pulling on a slip lead.
When should I use a slip lead on a dog?
There is no real reason to use a slip lead for everyday use. The best uses for a slip lead are for quickly catching and transporting a dog who doesn’t want to be caught, such as a stray or an escapee. If you ever need to use a slip lead on a dog, make sure you are doing so correctly.
How do I put a slip lead on a dog?
If you need to use a slip lead on a dog, do so carefully to ensure you do not injure the dog.
First, make sure to slide the ring down the lead until the loop at the end is wide enough to fit over the dog’s head.
Next, make sure that the dog is aware of you. You do not want to catch them by surprise, since this could lead to lunging or pulling which could cause choking or injury. Carefully slide the loop over the dog’s head and gently pull to tighten the loop.
It is best to position the loop at the top of the dog’s neck, just beneath the jaw. This placement can help reduce the chance of injury on the lower part of the dog’s neck.
How do I remove a slip lead from a dog?
Slip leads were designed to be used short-term. Once placed on a dog, they should only be used to accomplish transport, and then promptly removed. The trouble is that many dogs will make it difficult to remove the slip lead once it is placed.
If a dog is anxious or aggressive, it may be difficult to get close enough to loosen the slip lead. To avoid this, you can attach a string to the ring on the slip lead. When you are ready to remove the slip lead, simply pull on the string to loosen the lead. Once the loop is loosened, you can easily slide it over the dog’s head.
What if my dog won’t stop pulling on the leash?
If your dog won’t stop pulling on the leash, a slip lead is not the answer. The best thing you can do to train your dog to stop pulling on the lead is to get him familiar with commands like “Heel” and “Leave It,” and teaching him to walk with slack in the leash.
If you are having a lot of trouble doing this and you feel as though a training device would be helpful, there are several alternatives to slip leads that you might explore.
What are some alternatives to slip leads?
If you are using the slip lead for the intended purpose of securing and transporting dogs, there may be no suitable alternative. However, if you are seeking an alternative training device for your dog, you may be able to get the intended effect with a device such as a head collar or body harness.
These alternative devices may be used to stop your dog from pulling on the leash, but without the risk of choking that a slip lead introduces.
What is a head collar?
A head collar is designed similarly to a horse’s halter. It fits over your dog’s nose and behind his ears, meaning that there will be no pressure on your dog’s neck. Fitted properly, a head collar will remove the leverage that your dog has to pull on the leash, because if he tries to pull, he will simply turn himself around.
What is a body harness?
A body harness also removes pressure from your dog’s neck, since it fits around his chest and middle. Body harnesses may also help reduce pulling due to making your dog feel more secure. Front-clip harnesses especially work well to reduce the leverage that your dog has to pull on the leash, because like a head collar, they will simply turn your dog around if he tries to pull.