Of all the doggie equipment out there, dog leashes and dog collars are the most tried-and-true means of keeping a dog under control. There are many different types of leashes on the market today, but not all of them are humane.

Fortunately, there are a variety of humane dog leashes and collars to choose from as well. Below, I'm go through a list of things which you shouldn't buy and why. Then, we’ll discuss the different types of acceptable leashes and collars for dogs and I'll give you my personal product recommendations.

Electric shock collars for dogs have been receiving some heat from dog owners as of late. However, many dog trainers and experts have advocated the use of these shock collars on dogs as long as you purchase a high quality collar and learn how to use it properly. This is key in ensuring that your pet will never be harmed.

Everything You Need to Know About Humane Dog Collars and Leashes

With the purchase of a leash usually comes the purchase of a collar. There are many choices of ways to keep your dog close and under control, but not all are humane.

Choke collars and electric collars

Although widely used, choke collars and electric collars have negative effects on your dog’s disposition and are inhumane. Electric collars use a jolt of electricity to shock your dog when he disobeys, and choke collars have spikes that dig into your dog’s skin, causing pinpricks of pain and cutting off his air supply when he attempts to stray. Both discourage him from moving against the leash while walking but can lead to tracheal damage and abrasions of the skin beneath the collar.

RELATED: How to Use Shock Collars in a Humane Fashion

Choke collars and electrical collars can cause more behavioral problems than they fix. A dog might see you as a source of pain and discomfort rather than a loving, caring owner. He might become fearful, which can result in incontinence, anxiety, or even aggression. And the effectiveness of these collars in the long term is debatable.

Everything You Need to Know About Humane Collars and Leashes

Both collars rely on operant conditioning to teach your dog proper behavior. The theory is that being punished as a result of unacceptable behavior will cause the dog to stop that behavior. But it’s not foolproof. Positive reinforcement is known to work much better than punishment. Rewarding your dog for good behavior has a longer-lasting, more significant impact than punishing him for bad behavior.


Another example of an inhumane way to keep your dog close is a tether with a chain or rope. The Humane Society is not the only organization that is against tethering. The United States Department of Agriculture released the following statement about tethering:

Our [the USDA’s] experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog's movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog's shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog's movement and potentially causing injury.

Clearly, tethers are physically dangerous. Scratch tethers, choke collars, and electric collars off your list of things to buy. Now, let’s talk about humane ways to keep your dog under control. The last thing you need is for your dog to sustain an injury by bolting while walking near a busy street.

RELATED: How to Keep Your Dogs Safe on Daily Walks


Dog harnesses are humane and work well with dogs who have a tendency to wander off or bolt while walking. The front-clip harness keeps your dog under control but doesn’t put pressure on his neck to do so. The Puppia Soft Dog Harness is available in a variety of colors and is comfortable and flexible, making your dog feel secure while ensuring that you are in control.

Head Halters

Head harnesses are also humane ways to make sure your dog doesn’t wander off. The Premier Gentle Leader Head Dog Collar is a great choice for any size or breed. The harness fits around your dog and is both comfortable to wear and easy to use.

Humane dog leashes

Now let’s talk about options for dogs who need a leash (i.e., all dogs). The main differences in leash types are what they are made of, their length, and whether they are retractable.

Nonextendable leather and fabric leashes

Nonextendable leather and fabric leashes are humane, but they limit the dog’s range for wandering and exploration. However, when walking through a crowded park or through the neighborhood, this limitation provides for more control and is safer.

Everything You Need to Know About Humane Collars and Leashes

Retractable leashes

Retractable leashes extend to allow some leeway in letting the dog wander but can retract, bringing the dog back to his owner. The Flexi Explore Retractable Dog Leash extends up to 26 feet and is made of material strong enough to prevent a 100-pound dog from breaking free.

RELATED: The Best Dog Leash

However, pros and cons come with retractable leashes. Some owners like them because of the freedom they give to the dog and the ease of retracting to bring the dog back. Others, however, avoid them because of the danger of injury if the leash becomes wrapped around the dog’s leg or the owner’s leg, finger, or wrist. To use them safely, the owner must pay more attention to his dog, which he should be doing anyway.

Longline leashes

A longline leash is similar to a retractable leash in that it extends a long distance, usually between 20 and 50 feet. Your dog has a wider range of mobility with this type of leash, but you also can bring him back if you need to, making playtime flexible and safe. Longline leashes also require the owner to pay attention to his dog because the leash requires more work and more time to bring the dog back than do retractable leashes.

What should I buy?

Judging from the numerous options we have listed above, you have several safe and humane choices in what to purchase. Research them and try a few on your dog to determine the best choice for you and your pet.

Keeping your dog under control and within your boundaries doesn’t have to be harsh or inhumane. Through behavioral training and the use of humane leashes and collars or harnesses, you and your dog can have lots of outdoor fun!

Chad met his miniature long-haired dachshund, Ellie, through his girlfriend Jess. Over time, they became the best of friends, doing everything together. From taking trips to the soccer field, car rides to Ellie’s favorite drive thru restaurants, visits to the local Bark Park, to playing cards together, Ellie is always right by Chad’s side.