Flexi Leash + Gentle Leader = Frustrated Dog?
November 24, 2010 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Does a Flexi leash exert too much pressure to be used with a gentle leader?

We have an 85 lb shepherd mix who has a real pulling problem, which is almost completely solved with a gentle leader. The only issue is that we take brisk walks and she likes to suddenly stop to smell things, and I feel bad that she gets nailed by the gentle leader when I'm not quick enough.

In terms of training, I think it's fine for her to lag behind when she's not on heel, just not to walk in front. Managing both these requirements with a fixed leash requires a lot of awareness and adjustment, so I'm looking into a Flexi leash. I used one with a previous dog (who didn't require a gentle leader) but I don't have it any more, and the one I'm currently looking at is the bigger 110 lb tape version.

My concern is that the "slack" tension would be enough to feel like a correction on the gentle leader. I've pulled on a few in the store and it doesn't feel like a lot of tension, but I'm not sure how much would be considered a correction. (This is a notoriously oblivious dog; she frequently walks face-first into furniture and walls without any noticeable reaction.)
posted by bjrubble to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Gentle Leader people say that the flexi leash is not to be used with their head collars, they do have quite a bit of tension, especially the tape versions. I usually tell clients to get a 12 foot leather lead and just count on replacing it every few years, and let it drag. If the stopping doesn't bother her too much then you shouldn't feel too terrible. She'll either train herself no to stop on a dime, or she'll deal with the occasional head jerk.

(No photo?!)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:03 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


A Flexi encourages pulling, a Gentle Leader discourages it, you are sending mixed messages to your dog by using the two together. Plus there is an injury risk. I would say either train your dog not to pull (impossible with a Flexi), use a collar or harness with a Flexi, or use a Gentle Leader with a leash.
posted by biscotti at 7:15 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think the Flexi leash is really compatible with the Gentle Leader. To me it feels like the default amount of tension in the Flexi leash is almost as much pressure as a correction with the Gentle Leader (though my corrections were usually fairly mild).

I've got a 70-pound shepherd mix who also had a real pulling problem, which was almost completely solved with a Gentle Leader. I also felt like walking with the Gentle Leader took a lot of constant attention and management on my part. I would occasionally use the Flexi leash as a really long non-retractable leash with the Gentle Leader, i.e. locked at one length, but it still took a lot of management and I think a regular leash works better.

Don't give up though, after several months of training and constant use of the Gentle Leader, my dog got the picture and we graduated to a Martingale collar, which does work fine with the Flexi leash.

One word of warning - my dog's trainer warned me about the Flexi leash sometimes snapping if the dog hits the end while running full steam ahead. My dog did once hit the end while running, and the leash didn't break, but I almost did.
posted by spiny at 7:50 PM on November 24, 2010


I dropped my Flexi leash on the ground once and it retracted down the trail at the dog at about 45mph. So they're under more tension than you realize.
posted by fshgrl at 10:41 PM on November 24, 2010


I often use a twenty foot leash and loosely hold a four foot loop in my hand. If a dog starts to drop behind the loops easily pull out of my hand and I rarely notice myself coiling it up again when I stop or the dog catches up.
I don't like Flexis in general. When a dog sneaks out to the end of a Flexi, I find it gets whipped out of my hand.
posted by gally99 at 11:40 PM on November 24, 2010


Flexi leashes are pretty bad when it comes to controlling a dog. When teaching a dog to walk on a leash, the big thing that they are supposed to learn is to pay attention to you, to stay by your side and be aware of what *you* are doing. Flexi leashes are the opposite of this -- they're like retracting tie-outs with a human attached. Any corrections requires you to fidget with the lock or for her to be at the end of it's extendability -- bad scene. The leash most recommended by dog trainers is a 6 foot leather leash (leather is easier on your hands)-- and it has the bonus of showing you training is going well if the dog stays near you enough that the leash can go slack as you stroll along. Personally, I prefer a 2 or 4 foot nylon leash -- but I'm short and I really like the dog to be right with me, especially the bigger dogs that many of the kids/elderly around my house find intimidating.

The gentle leader is beloved and makes a huge difference for a lot of dogs, and is perceived as humane (as opposed to prong collars, which are much more humane than choke collars but perceived as cruel). If it were me with an 85 lb dog who pulled, I would spend a good couple months (or 20-30 consecutive walks) teaching the dog that her job is to be at my side. You may not care if she lags behind, but that is essentially changing the rules on her at whim, and harder for her to understand. Which is not to say you can't do that eventually, but the important thing is that she get consistent clear communication of what's expected before you relax the rules.
posted by MeiraV at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2010


You do not have to make the rules "dog walks by my side", the rules can be simply "no pulling", and you can make that black and white by being 100% consistent that there is no forward movement at all if there is pulling. There is no reason a dog has to walk beside you if that's not your goal, but there are lots of reasons to teach a dog not to pull. But you can't teach a dog not to pull with a Flexi lead, since a Flexi's basic function depends on the dog pulling.
posted by biscotti at 8:04 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Contrary to a lot of the negative responses above, our family used a flexileash with a gentle leader on walks daily (at the suggestion of the vet) for all 16 years of the beloved old brittany's life. Sure, sometimes if she took off at a run and hit the end of the least she'd get a hard yank, but we'd use voice commands to warn her, and she was fine. She also sometimes would just pull consistently until we corrected with tug, but overall the system worked well.

Of course, she was 35 pounds, so ymmv.
posted by ldthomps at 10:31 AM on November 25, 2010


spiny: "One word of warning - my dog's trainer warned me about the Flexi leash sometimes snapping if the dog hits the end while running full steam ahead."

This happened to me and my dog. Of course, she was a Siberian Husky and they are meant to pull sleds. Thankfully my neighbors were outside and grabbed her for me.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2010


The only issue is that we take brisk walks and she likes to suddenly stop to smell things, and I feel bad that she gets nailed by the gentle leader when I'm not quick enough.

I don't believe it hurts them - at least, it clearly doesn't hurt my 52-lb boy, even when he sets himself up for a hard yank in similar situations.

In terms of training, I think it's fine for her to lag behind when she's not on heel, just not to walk in front.

Arrange the leash differently. (The following presumes that your dog heels on the left side of you.) Hold it tightly in your right hand, drape it behind your waist, and balance it loosely across your left hand. Now, when he goes forward, there's a hard stop, but if he lags behind, your left hand can pull softly back, allowing more room. He could get sneaky and reverse around your right side, but all that would buy him is 3', followed by a pissed-off master... and so he won't learn this as a sneak.

I walk bigger dogs this way, for just the reason you describe, and because I want to brace them with more than just my left wrist.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:23 AM on November 28, 2010


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