We know slip leashes can appear intimidating for some and ineffective for others. It’s different from the normal style leash that you’re used to seeing.
A normal style leash clips onto the metal attachment point of your dog’s collar while a slip leash slips right over their head and around their neck as the name suggests.
Before we get into exactly how to use a slip leash, we’re going to talk about proper positioning of the slip leash around your dog’s neck.
Positions On Neck for a Slip Leash
There are three sections to your dog’s neck: the base near the shoulders, the middle across the trachea, and the top at the base of the skull and behind the ears. The key to successfully using a slip leash is in the positioning used.
The base of the neck will encourage pulling as your dog strains against the lead. This is because any corrections or pressure given will be felt in the shoulders and chest. This pressure causes your dog to instinctively pull on the lead and they have much more leverage than you.
This will lead to a tug of war match you just can’t win!
Any corrections around the middle of the neck can cause harm to your dog making it another unideal position for your lead. Your dog's neck is a lot more similar to yours than you may think! If you tug on your leash while it is around the centre of the neck, it puts pressure on the windpipe.
Not to mention if your dog tries to pull at all. They may end up hurting themselves or in more extreme cases crushing their windpipe. No one wants an emergency vet visit due to something preventable.
This leaves us with the top of the neck that’s at the base of the skull and behind the ears.
This is the position you want when working with a slip leash. It allows for amazing communication without risk of injuring your dog and they don’t feel the instinctive need to pull against any pressure they feel.
How Tight Should a Slip Leash be?
You’ll also want to make sure that the leash isn’t too loose or too tight. Too loose and the leash may slip over your dog's head. Too tight and it may cause discomfort or injury.
The general rule of thumb for the slip leash is like most other collars and harnesses. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably under the leash. You’ll want to make sure your slip lead is fit while your dog is at rest to make sure it isn't too tight.
That way, as you’re out for your walk or training session and they excitedly pull, it doesn’t become painful.
We’ve come up with our very own spring-powered hammer shaped buckle to help with this. Once the slip leash has been adjusted properly, the buckle can be slid into place to help keep our Ragnar Slip Leash in place without the need for constant adjusting.
It shouldn’t easily come loose and slip over your dog’s head with the stopper in place and with proper use, the leash should never become too tight.
Using a Slip Leash Properly
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.
Now you know a little bit more about how to correctly use a slip leash. But, now that you’ve been armed with this new knowledge, just where do you start? What lead should you try out and is it right for you?
Fenrir Canine Leaders are here to help! We have just what you need to start on your journey to becoming a calm, consistent canine leader.
Our Ragnar Slip Leash has exactly this sort of training in mind. The woven rope is only 8mm in diameter which allows for increased communication while popping the lead.
This is because whenever you pop the lead, the pressure is spread out over less surface and easier for your dog to feel. It makes it quicker and easier for them to feel any communication you give so they can respond faster and more accordingly.
It’s our hope that this design paired with proper training makes for a much more successful and comfortable experience. Won’t you try our slip leash today?