It may be surprising, but the leash you use with your dog can make an impact on the quality of your veterinary visit. One of the most common leash types used by our clients is an extendable leash, or “Flexi-leash.” We understand why owners love these leashes, but they are difficult when at the vet clinic. Here are some of our concerns:
1. The lobby. Most clients don’t set these leashes to a short distance. This means that a dog coming in the lobby can quickly get far away from its owner, and possibly into the face of another dog. While most of our patients are well-behaved, we do have some aggressive interactions in the lobby. These are much easier to prevent if dogs are close to their owner and not allowed to interact with other dogs without permission.
2. Checking in and checking out. We have hooks at each reception station so that our clients can hook their dog safely to the wall. This allows our clients to have both hands free. Unfortunately, Flexi-leashes can’t be attached, and so our clients are stuck getting pulled around while checking out.
3. Control of dog in treatment room/hospital. At most visits, our dog patients make a trip to the treatment room for blood sampling, a nail trim, or something similar. We dislike using Flexi-leashes to take dogs in back for control reasons. We like to have the dogs close to us to prevent unwanted dog-dog interactions and to help us get where we want to go. Flexi-leashes are made so that you can’t hold the leash in the first 1-2 feet. And that is exactly where to hold when maneuvering dogs away from each other or around the corner. (For this reason we also dislike metal-chain leashes, but we see those much less frequently.)
Here are our recommendations for the leashes we do love:
1. 4-6 feet. This is a pretty standard leash length, and gives the dog a little slack, but lets the owner and our staff handle them easily.
2. Fabric or leather. This makes it easy for everyone to grab the leash close to the dog if needed, and have a good grip.
3. Nice loop at the owner end. This makes it very easy to use the hooks in the lobby. (Some leashes have lovely padded handles which are great, but do make using the hooks harder.)
4. If you use a Gentle Leader, harness, or prong collar for walks, please use it for a visit to the vet. Having that extra control is helpful when the dogs are excited!
Let us know if you have any questions about leashes at the veterinary hospital!