Are Slip Leads Cruel to Dogs?

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Slip leads grow in popularity as dog owners look for new and effective ways to stop their dogs from pulling and keep them safely on their leash. But like the controversial dog shock collar, the design of the slip lead for dogs can lead many pet parents to feel uncomfortable using it, in the fear it may be cruel to their dogs. So – are slip leads cruel to dogs?

Some people have a dog that incessantly pulls the leash on walks, or they are just looking for other leash and collar options for their pup. Slip leads may be suitable in either of these cases.

Whatever your reasoning, this article will help you understand slip leads better and whether or not they are the right tool for you and your dog.

The Short Answer

Slip leads are not inherently cruel to use on dogs, but if misused, they can be.

Slip leads shouldn’t be demonized for their design; it is up to the owner to educate themselves on the tool and the best ways to use it. 

Neglecting to use the slip lead properly can result in a painful experience for your dog that may even lead to injury. 

What Is a Slip Lead?

A slip lead is a collar and leash all in one. The lead is a leash with a loop at the end for the dog’s head to go through. Dog slip leads are probably the most difficult leash and collar combinations to escape

The idea of a slip lead for dogs is to apply pressure to the dog’s neck when they pull and relieve that pressure when they heel. Heel means they are walking beside you, so the leash is relaxed. 

Training Your Dog With a Slip Lead

Dog slip leads work in a way that helps you communicate with your dog through pressure. When they pull on the leash, the pressure deters them and reminds them they are walking with you. The pressure helps make them more mindful of your pace and distance from them.

When they heel and walk beside you, the pressure will be relieved, and they’ll be comfortable. The tension relief gives your dog an inherent reward when they stop pulling. 

are slip leads cruel to dogs

Some dog owners view neck pressure when pulling as a form of punishment. Many dog trainers insist on owners being a benevolent force in their canine’s life that never resorts to negative training or punishments. 

Their feelings are understandable, but when a dog is responsive and trainable, a slip lead for dogs can clue them into how a walk should be. 

Slip Lead Pros and Cons

While dog slip leads can be a useful tool for training your dog not to pull, there are downsides to be considered along with the upsides. 


Helpful for Leash Training

Leash training can be very difficult. It’s much simpler to teach your dog to sit or lay down inside the comfort of your quiet home. 

But when you go outside where all the people, other dogs, woodland animals, cars, and so much more happen around you, it’s harder to keep your pup’s attention.

Sometimes treats are less enticing to them than the rabbit bounding through the grass or the other dog that’s staring them down across the street. 

This is where the slip lead can be a huge help. It grounds them back to you and reminds them, through increased pressure, that they need to stay near you. 

Improved Communication

Most dogs don’t pull because they are trying to control you or assert dominance; instead, they get distracted by squirrels and birds and people and just about everything else. 

Having the pressure on their neck when they pull reminds them they are with you and need to be aware of that. The pressure teaches the dog that it is okay to look at these distractions but not okay to charge after them on a walk. 

A slip lead fosters a better connection between you and your pup on walks so you can be on the same page. 

Lessened Risk of Escape

Of course, whenever you take your dog outside, there is always a risk they could escape from their leash. Even the most heavy-duty harnesses have their weak points. 

But if you have a clever dog that is always wriggling out of its collar or destroying its harnesses, dog slip leads can be an effective solution. 

Because the collar portion tightens when they pull in any direction, this makes escape practically impossible. 

are slip leads cruel to dogs


Risk of Injury

There is a chance a dog’s trachea or neck could be injured if the owner yanks them too hard or their slip lead is too tight. 

This is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the lead properly fits. The owner must also practice patience and restraint when training a dog, which most dog owners know can be immensely frustrating. 

It’s important to remember, dog slip leads are not a magical rope that will teach your dog how to walk perfectly. They are a tool to be used in conjunction with leash training. 

Ineffective for Some Breeds

Some breeds are too slender for slip leads to keep them secured. Their thin necks and narrow heads make the slip leads easy to escape from. 

Breeds that probably shouldn’t use a slip lead for dogs include Afghan Hounds, Azawakh, Greyhounds, Whippets, Borzoi, Basenji, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound. 

Bottom Line – Are Slip Leads Cruel To Dogs?

Are slip leads cruel to dogs? Slip leads are only cruel when not used appropriately. If you have done your research and are willing to put in the effort and patience it takes to leash train your dog, a slip lead is an excellent tool for leash training. 

The most important takeaway from this article is that slip leads are a mere training tool, not a substitute for proper leash training.

No dog parent wants to hurt their dog or put them in an uncomfortable situation. But using a slip lead to train your dog can make both of your lives easier. Most dogs look for communication from their owner, and a slip lead provides constant communication on walks.

Consider using a slip lead if you want to foster a better walking relationship with your dog through proper training and patience.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.