Are Slip Leads Cruel to Dogs? [a Veterinarian Answers]

dog walking with slip lead

Should you walk your dog with a slip lead?  This is a question many dog owners have.  Is it cruel?  Will it cause pain to your dog?  What exactly is a slip lead, and how does it work? 

In this article, we will discuss slip lead pros and cons; how to use a slip lead properly, and when you should use a slip lead.  Whether it’s used for training, or for basic control of a dog; there are do’s and don’ts that dog owners should be aware of before deciding on a slip lead.  The information provided will help you better determine if a slip lead is ideal for you and your dog.

What Is a Slip Lead?

Basically, a slip lead is a combination of training collar and leash.  Instead of having a separate collar with an attachable leash, the slip lead acts as both.  A slip lead is equipped with a loop or ring that can easily be transformed into a collar by slipping the end of the lead through the hole.  Then, the collar part of the slip lead is easily placed over the dog’s head.

A slip lead is often used as a training tool when teaching your dog to walk on a leash.  Most dogs, at first will fight a leash and tend to pull away.  A slip lead works as a deterrent for pulling by tightening around a dog’s neck. When used properly, it can be a good source for training.  However, it can also cause harm to a dog if not loosened up immediately.   A good slip lead should release the tension by itself when a dog stop pulling.  Slip leads often have a stopper which will prevent escape and keep the loop secure around the dog’s neck.

How To Put a Slip Lead on A Dog?

When putting a slip lead on your dog, adjust the loop to fit over your dog’s head.  Position the slip lead behind their ears, high on their neck and just under their jaw.  Placing the slip lead lower on the dog’s neck could cause damage or injury.

Secure the slip lead by tightening the loop with enough room for a few fingers that will fit between the dog’s skin and the lead.

The Pros and Cons of A Slip Lead

When used correctly, a slip lead is an excellent training tool.  It’s convenient for correcting bad behaviour fast.  It is also easy to slip on and off, which is ideal in an emergency situation.  A dog can pull out of a regular collar, but with a slip lead, it can not.  Greater control is achieved when working with an unruly dog and will discourage misbehaving.

On the down side, a slip lead can harm a dog if the owner is inexperienced.  When tightened around a dog’s neck, it can cut off the dog’s airway, especially if they are persistent in pulling away from you.  Slip leads are not ideal for growing puppies or smaller dogs with thinner neck structures.

Dogs who are prone to lunging can find themselves in an uncomfortable position. A slip lead does not stop tightening, and can therefore cause pain or possible tracheal damage.  It should not be used for lengthy periods of time.  Furthermore, dogs should not be left unattended or tied up with a slip lead.

Are slip leads cruel?  Absolutely not, but they can be used cruelly if the owner is not familiar with how to use a slip lead or how to position a slip lead around the dog’s neck.

Who Uses Slip Leads?

You’d be surprised to know that many professionals and other individuals use slip leads on a regular basis.  Veterinarians use slip leads for convenience and safety. Dogs are generally skittish when going to the vet to get poked and prodded by a stranger.  A vet can easily place a slip lead on a dog instead of having to reach for a collar and possibly get bitten.

In addition to Veterinarians, many animal shelters and groomers use slip leads.  They often have to contend with stray dogs, or numerous dogs.  It takes less time to use a slip lead than it does a leash and collar, especially if they need to transport in a hurry.

Many dog trainers also use slip leads as a tool for training for shows.  Slip leads used in dog shows are typically thinner, and preferably matches the dog’s coat.

Overall, there are many opinions of the benefits and dangers of slip leads.  Basically, it comes down to choice and knowledge.  Whereas, some dog owners are highly against slip leads, there are others that will swear by them, and the outcomes achieved.

Related Questions

Are slip leads painful?

If used properly, no. However, if you have a dog that tends to pull excessively, lunges, or has a tendency to want to chase things, then the slip lead could cause some discomfort or pain from the tightening.

Should I walk my dog with a slip lead?

Some people walk their dogs with a slip leash.  Mostly, they are used as a training tool to teach your dog to walk properly and to have more control over the dog.  Most people prefer to walk their dogs with collars, harnesses, and leashes.  If the dog is obeying and walking nicely, there isn’t any reason to use a slip lead.

Do slip leads stop a dog from pulling?

Slip leads can be an ideal tool to teach your dog to stop pulling on a leash.  With slip leads, you gain more control over your dog.  They will begin to associate pulling to the tightening of the slip lead and the loosening effect when it stops. 

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