Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Use a Euro Lead

A Euro Lead is one of the most confusing leashes out there, but it is also one of the most versatile. Euro leads go by many names, but generally any multi-function leash is going to be some style of Euro lead. These are very popular with Schutzhund handlers, service dog handlers, and dog snobs. Most Euro leads are made out of leather, some plain and some with various amounts of braiding and decoration. I also have a thick nylon Euro lead I bought at Walmart years ago.
Six-foot leash mode. Photo by Erin Koski

Most Euro leads are 6-8 feet long, and they all have snaps of some sort on either end. Mine is 6' long, leather, and has trigger snaps on each end. Most Euro leads have a small D-ring attached several inches from each snap, and a larger ring fixed near the center of the leash. Some Euro leads also have a floating ring that allows them to be used as slip leads. Susanne Clothier's Ranger lead even has a semi-floating ring that allows it to be used as a martingale. Mine isn't that fancy, but the Ranger lead is on my list of thing I really, really want.

To use a basic Euro lead as a basic leash, one end is clipped to the dog and the other end is clipped to the nearest D-ring to form a handle loop. If the leash has one clip that is larger than the other, the larger clip should be attached to the dog and the smaller clip used to form the handle. I don't often use my Euro lead like this because the big round ring in the middle has a tendency to bonk Brisbane in the head. Six-foot leash mode is great for dogs that don't mind being bonked in the head.
Three-foot leash mode. Photo by Erin Koski

To use the Euro lead as a three-foot leash, one end is clipped to the dog and the other end is clipped to the D-ring closest to the dog. I also run the leash through the big ring in the center to keep it from flopping in a big loop and to make it more like a handle. This is the way I see most guide dog handlers using Euro leashes. In 3' mode the Euro leash is short enough for bigger dogs to wear without too much of it dragging on the ground. Most of the time, I don't loop the leash around my wrist when I use it like this., I just grab the doubled-over leash at any point that seems convenient. This is a good way to use the leash in crowded areas, stores, anywhere I want to keep my dog close to me, and anywhere I think I might drop the leash and then pick it back up again.

Over-the-shoulder mode. Photo by Erin Koski.

To use the Euro lead as an over-the-shoulder leash, one end is clipped to the dog, and the other end is clipped to the big ring in the center. This makes a leash that is about four feet long, with a big loop that can be worn over the shoulder and across the body like a purse strap. I use my Euro lead like this a lot, especially when I am walking Brisbane and Ulysses together. While Brisbane is extremely good at walking on a leash, Uly really has no idea where he is going and the two of them don't move as a unit. Having Briz on a hands-free leash means I can guide Uly and keep the two of them from getting tangled. Over-the-shoulder mode means the dog is on a very short leash, and can't deviate very far from heel position. It's a good way to use the leash when I need to carry something and can't devote and entire arm or hand to maneuvering my dog. I prefer to use the leash like this when the dog on the other end already has nice leash manners. Wearing the leash around my waist is a good way to walk a pulling dog with no hands, but wearing the leash over my shoulder like this could hurt my back.

This might be the greatest picture ever taken of my dogs.
To use the Euro lead as a two-dog leash, a dog is clipped to either end. I usually run the leash through the big ring to make a handle, sometimes I clip a second leash to the big ring to make a giant dog coupler. This works best when both dogs understand how to walk on a leash, when I tried clipping Uly to the other end he inadvertently dragged Brisbane all over the place. It also works best when the dogs know how to walk nicely side by side (also called walking as a brace) because there is no swivel to keep the two sides of the leash from tangling around each other.

So that's...I dunno...four functions? These are usually advertised as x-function leashes, where x is the number of different ways they could demonstrate to use the leash. A Euro leash can be wrapped around a tree/pole/bike rack/etc and clipped to itself to hold the dog temporarily, though I would never leave my dog tied outside a store or coffee shop unattended because I am paranoid and my dog is a monster. I've clipped one end to my dog and the other end directly to a chain link fence wire during training class when I needed my dog to stay put for a minute. I've also clipped it directly to my belt loop when I wanted to give him some more freedom but couldn't be bothered to hold the leash and wasn't worried about him lunging or bolting. The end attached to the dog can also be attached to the nearest ring at the same time, forming a handy traffic loop.

Several different training methods and tools make use of double-ended leashes like the Euro leash. The Freedom harness uses a martingale loop in the back, a front ring, and double-ended leash attached to both so the dog can feel the tightening action of the back loop and then be guided back to the handler via the front attachment. Some handlers use a double-ended leash with head halters for the same reason, the head halter is used only to orient the dog back to the handler and not as the main deterrent to pulling. A Euro leash can be used as a safety measure when trying out a new piece of equipment, the other end can be clipped to a martingale collar or some other escape-proof piece of hear while the test-driving the new collar/harness/saddle/whatever.

I will also admit to using my Euro lead because I am a dog snob. It's versatile and incredibly useful, it also subtly informs other dog snobs that I too am a dog snob. Look at my fancy leash! My everyday leash is still a well-worn 6' long leather leash, but only because of that head bonking thing. If Brisbane was less easily traumatized, we would use that thing every day.

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