So, now that we know the basics of how a slip leash should be worn and why, let's take a look at how to properly use one!
There are two configurations for your slip leash: left and right. The long side of the lead - the length that is passed through the loop - should always be over the back of your dog’s neck and in your direction.
This will help when you make corrections as the lead will quickly tighten and then loosen again without ever becoming too tight. It is also very important to keep your dog at your side when working with a slip leash.
If your dog is allowed to walk or run out in front of you, they may tug and the lead will become too tight. It will also help keep the leash from slipping down lower on your dog’s neck which is important.
Remember, we want the slip lead to be high on the neck and behind the ears! If it slips lower, it will cut across the trachea which can cause harm or down around the base of the neck where the pressure will make your dog want to tug on the leash.
When using the slip leash, you want to remain relaxed. If you’re stressed out or tense, your dog will pick up on that and become anxious as well. You need to be a calm, consistent leader for them. They pick up on your body language and other silent queues.
In order to be calm, they need a calm leader to guide and lead them.
You should never hold the lead tightly while using it. This puts tension on the lead which causes multiple negative effects. Your dog will want to pull as they feel that extra tension on the lead and the extra tension will make it hard to pop the lead.
“Popping” the lead is how we quickly communicate with our dogs using the slip leash.
It is not meant to tug your dog in the proper direction. If you pull on the lead or try and tug your dog along, they will naturally pull in the opposite direction. This is not a game of tug-o-war you’re going to win. There’s a good chance your dog has more leverage and power than you do.
Slip leads are used for quick on-off communication. A quick, but firm flick of the wrist in an upward motion will “pop” the lead. The quick change in pressure is used to get your dog’s attention and bring them back to you. It does not fight their natural instinct to pull on the leash, because it does not call upon it in the first place.
By keeping a loose and relaxed lead, when you put tension on it, it will signal your dog to focus on you instead of whatever they are doing.
Whether just on a walk or training on a lead, popping will allow you to communicate unwanted or improper behaviour with the least amount of physical force possible. With the flip of the wrist, pressure is put on the lead and immediately off again.
Slip leads are not meant to be used for heavy physical correction! Used correctly and with positive reinforcement such as treat training, you can get the desired outcome. This quick communication can also be paired with a verbal correction as well such as a firm “no” or psst!
The more you practise, the less you will need the verbal corrections and the more a quick pop of the lead will do the trick. The whole goal is to be firm, but not harsh. Calm, consistent training will get consistent results.