Leash Holding – Could it Really be Dangerous?

There is a right way and several wrong ways to hold your dog's leash. Avoid injuries to you and your dog and do it safely by following these tips.

Holding your dog’s leash seems like such a basic thing, but it could mean the difference between safety and some pretty awful injuries.

I know, right now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “this person is insane, how could holding a lead be dangerous?!. Many of us don’t even THINK about how we hold our dog’s lead, we just do whatever is comfortable.

Two years ago I got my first dog and on my first day of puppy class the trainer spent more time talking about how to safely hold the lead than he did telling me about how to get my dog to sit. What he wanted us to leave with is the message that no matter how big or small our dog is, we were NEVER to wrap the lead around our arm, our wrist, or around any part of our body in general. He then recounted stories of owners being dragged by their dogs, breaking arms, de-gloving their fingers and even his own experience of a dislocated thumb.

I honestly thought the guy was having me on. I mean, I’d always wrapped the lead around my arm when walking the family dog. After all, I needed to make sure I had a firm hold on a dog that weighed about 25kg!

Then, a few weeks later, I was walking my own 8kg dog with the lead wrapped around my wrist when he saw something interesting and took off. I wasn’t expecting it and the lead was still ripped from what I thought was a firm grasp. I also felt this horrible pain in my thumb (almost had it pulled out of its socket) and a nice piece of rope burn down the back of my hand.

So I went back to the trainer, admitted that I didn’t listen to him and asked to be shown a safer way to hold my dog’s lead. He told me the best way to hold your dog’s lead is to put only your thumb through the loop on the lead and hold as demonstrated in the photo below. If you need extra support, also hold the lead with your other hand.

To hold a lead place your thumb through the loop, then close your hand over the handle.

To hold a lead place your thumb through the loop, then close your hand over the handle.

I recently spoke to a rather unfortunate dog owner… she used to walk her large breed dog with the lead wrapped around her arm because he pulled like crazy and she was scared he would escape her grip. Then one day she tripped, spooked her dog and he took off. Now, because that lead was wrapped around her arm, she was pulled over and dragged along. Apart from some nasty cuts, bumps and bruises, she walked away with not one, but TWO broken arms! She was sharing her story to hopefully save at least one other owner from an unfortunate fate.

If you do have a dog that pulls, work on teaching him to heel. Or take a short-cut and use a head halter instead, these brilliant inventions can really help you take the lead again – pun intended!


This blog was written by Jess Fenyo, one of the lovely Experience Crew Members at our North Ryde Vet Clinic. Jess is the proud mum of a ferret named Shiloh, a fluffy black cat, an 11 year old rescue pooch, and a cheeky 2 year old Basenji mix.