In the October issue of FITNESS (on newsstands now!), we pooch-tested a slew of running leashes to help you find one that will keep you and your pup happy on a jog together. Our tester, Charlotte, runs with her dog Nala (a mix of Australian Shepherd, Spaniel and Jack Russell) almost every day, running 3 to 4 miles in the summer (depending on the heat) and up to 6 in the winter months! Below, see what Charlotte’s criteria for testing was, and her thoughts on the winning leashes:
1. Length: The right length depends on how big your dog is and how big you are. I’m 5’2, so a long leash would be overwhelming for me, as I don’t want my dog that far in front of me. If the leash is too short, there’s not enough clearance for the dog to have her gait and for me to have mine. We’re going to clash and trip over each other.
Winner: Ruffwear Flat Out leash
Size-wise this was just right. If I had a bigger dog, I would have to tie some knots in it so I could have better control, but Nala is only about 30lbs. so the knots weren’t needed. Other than that, this leash is nice and light and perfect for shorter runs.
2. Adjustability: If a leash has heavy duty elastic, it makes it hard to tie a loop in the middle for adjusting, or when you need to handle quickly in an emergency situation. At first glance, some elastic leashes looked like they would be too short, but you don’t know how much it will stretch while running.
Winner: Stunt Runner leash by Stunt Puppy
At first I thought this leash would be too short, but once we started running it gave us a nice lead for a smaller sized dog and petite to medium-sized runner. It stretches about 5 feet because it is adjustable at the waist. Also a great option if you’re trying to teach a dog to run with you.
3. Durability: Although my current dog is on the smaller side, when I was testing I thought of my last dog, who was 107lbs. of lean muscle–he outweighed me! The tradeoff of having a leash that could withstand him was heaviness, though well worth it. For these types of leashes, you want to make sure it can stand the test of time and repeated use.
Winner: Hands-Free leash by Iron Doggy
Overall, I really liked this leash and would definitely use it if I were going on a trail run. My favorite part was that they actually tied knots along the leash! This was clearly made by someone who runs with a dog, because sometimes all you can do is grab the leash to hold your dog back from an incident, and the knots prevent from slipping and tearing up your hands in the process. A little too heavy for my dog, but would be perfect for big dogs!
4. Other factors to keep in mind when buying a leash:
- Choke up handles: Dogs are dogs, and if you have a dominant dog or encounter one on your run, you have to be able to pull back. Tie knots in your leash, or choose one with D-loop handles so you can get your hand in it in a hurry.
- Color: Not just for aesthetics but also safety. Especially in cities, runners share routes with bikes and rollerbladers, who can often be totally zoned out. Choose a bright leash that’s reflective so it will stick out when running at odd times (like dawn or dusk). A biker will see you, but they may not see your small dog.
More from FITNESS: Expert Tips to Run with Your Dog