Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Pets are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
For most dog leashes, one size doesn't fit all. Of course, weight matters when it comes to finding the best dog leash — always make sure you buy one that's the size and length that correlates with your pet's breed — but that's not the only thing you should be factoring into your purchase. Dogs have all sorts of needs that require different types of leashes, and so do you, so we rounded up the best in key categories so you can pick the best dog leash for both you and your pup. Comfort is tantamount when you're making your decision: you'll want a leash that is comfortable in your hand, comfortable for your dog, and comfortable for the situation at hand. The leash you'll pick out when you're going out for a run is going to be different than the leash you need when you're walking through crowded city streets. If you're training your dog, he'll need something different than if he was a nervous walker. With all of these factors in mind, we rounded up the best ones for lots of specific needs so you can find the right one for you.
For this list, we did not include retractable leashes. Our round-up of the very best can be found here, and while retractable leashes are definitely a great pick for outdoor adventures or big open spaces, for this article we wanted to focus on a basic leash you'd need for a controlled walk with your dog. For most situations, you'll need a regular leash that has a short, non-retractable lead so you can keep tabs on your pet, and you should always have one on hand. Check out our picks below:
1. The Best Dog Leash for Pullers
If you have a dog that likes to tug and pull at the leash, you'll certainly appreciate this heavy-duty leash with three handles located at the top, middle, and bottom. Utilize the middle and bottom handles when your dog begins to pull and tug — it will give you more control and help you train your dog in the process. It has reflective seams to increase visibility at night, and has padded neoprene handles so you won't chafe or get red. Most dog owners place the top handle around their wrist and hold the middle handle for the most control. There's a stainless steel closure and a D-ring to hold waste bags — and the company donates a new leash to a dog in need with every purchase made, so you'll feel plenty good about this pick.
2. Our Pick for New Dog Owners
If you're a new dog owner (or just a nervous dog owner in general!), this Nifti SafeLatch leash is a great pick to give you peace of mind. Unlike the traditional lobster claws on leashes, this one features a bolt that enters a fitted hole and hook, which further prevents the risk of escape. It also has a high-powered magnet that keeps the handle from accidentally opening, and helps you to easily connect it with one hand (which is a must-have for dogs that try to play escape artist!). Finally, you'll hear a loud click when you connect the leash to your harness or collar, so you'll know for sure this is securely fastened. The thick 6-foot leash also has a thumb lever that will work with thick winter gloves and won't pinch your fingers, which is a nice perk.
3. The Perfect Leash for Nervous Dogs
If you have a dog that's terrified of people, dogs, or city sounds, this is a great leash to have on hand. Anyone who has an adorable pup knows how often other people come up to pet them, or other dogs come up to take a curious sniff. This helps other people know right away that your dog should be given some space, and it'll spare you the awkward conversation as you're trying to calm your dog down. It may seem silly at first, but this leash has seriously helped a lot of dogs and their owners when it comes to navigating outdoor walks. One five-star reviewer with a nervous animal writes: "my dog is so much happier."
4. The Best Dog Leash for City Traffic
This Kruz Short Traffic Leash is a must-have if your dog is not used to city sounds or crowded areas — making it a great pick to have on hand if you take your dog to a crowded festival or park, or live in a busy part of town. It's a sturdy nylon rope leash that's only 20 inches long, so you'll have absolute control of where your dog goes, decreasing the risk of them getting into traffic. It has a comfortable handle and reflective elements, too. It's great if you're training your pet, too, and you aren't ready to give him a lot of room to get in trouble.
5. Our Choice for a Double-Dog Leash
This 31-inch rope leash has a double bungee extension and requires only one handle to walk two dogs — a great option for dogs that are similar in size and love to explore things together. It'll also give you a free hand for once, which is obviously a very convenient perk for multiple dog owners. The 360-degree swivel clasp means it auto-adjusts when your dogs start to cross each other, so you'll never get them tangled up again. The bungee also has some shock protection, so if one dog runs while the other stays still, it'll absorb the shock and keep both pups happy.
6. The Best Hands-Free Leash for Running
If you love to run with your dog, you need a hands-free dog leash now. It will make running or walking on paths so much more enjoyable. This Buddy System leash can be used as a regular leash, but also clips around your waist (and comes in a few sizes), so you can run in tandem with each other and at the same pace. There's also an emergency release in case your pace gets a little too fast (or vice versa!), but we do recommend this leash only if your dog is not a puller and is fairly trained already. Reviewers also love this for training purposes: it can be a way to teach them come and stay without having to worry they'll bolt.
7. The Highest-Quality Leather Leash
If you just want a high-quality, beautiful leash that will last you for many years, this Logical Leather option is the best dog leash for the job. Made of genuine full-grain leather, it can withstand 245 pounds of pulling force and features a nickel-plated leash clip. Leather leashes are also fairly popular to train police dogs and service dogs, so it's a great option if you're planning to provide obedience training for your dog. Either way, it's a gorgeous, sturdy pick.
This piece was first published on May 25, 2021 and has been updated in 2022 by Alida Nugent.
READ MORE: The Best Retractable Leashes for Dogs
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.