It's easy to buy the wrong lead when shopping online

Coming back from a weekend with friends, I discovered that I had left the dogs’ slip leads behind. New ones were needed, anyway, so I went online. I like the natural rope slip leads made by the Devon-based company KJK, so went to the Dog Lead Shop to order my new leads.

Right slip lead length for a spaniel?

The website was excellent and, as I thought I knew what I wanted, I confidently ordered two 8mm diameter, 0.9m long leads, one in matt blue, one in matt red. As an afterthought I also ordered another 8mm lead, but this time 1.2m long and in a new colour: shiny yellow. The service was speedy and the leads arrived the next morning. It was then that I discovered that 0.9m isn’t really long enough for a spaniel, though it might be OK for a taller dog. What was more, I have always preferred the slightly thicker 10mm leads.

No doubt I could simply have returned them and asked for longer, thicker, replacements, but I couldn’t be bothered. Instead they are now installed as emergency leads, one in the glove compartment of each my cars. Because they are relatively short they don’t take up too much space.

Brightly coloured leads easier to find

I did like the shiny yellow lead, however, and 1.2m was just fine. I’ve now decided my ideal spaniel lead should be 10mm in diameter and 1.5m in length, though 1.2m is quite acceptable.

Over the years I have lost several brown or green leads when I’ve dropped them in the grass, so I now favour brightly coloured leads that are much easier to find. I think most of us have a tendency to buy natural colours but you can make an exception for leads.

Positioning a slip lead correctly

The lead should be positioned over the dog’s head with the sliding ring nearest the handler’s leg; if it is on the correct way the ring will slide up and down the lead freely. This means that when the lead is slack, as it should be at all times, the ring will drop freely down the lead under the dog’s head.

If you walk with your dog on your left side then looking from the front of the dog the lead will go over the dog’s neck in a clockwise direction, down the opposite side, under the throat to the sliding link near your leg.

It needs to be long enough to have plenty of slack and be of good-quality soft rope or leather that is supple enough for it to slide freely.