Top 6 Reasons Dogs Like Leashes + 4 Reasons They Don’t


Reaching for the leash can spark a lot of different emotions in your dog. They might get excited at the prospect of going outside and exploring new areas of the neighborhood. Or they might dred an aggressive pulling session and sore throat. But which is it? Do dogs like their leashes?

The easiest way to tell if your dog likes their leash is by their reaction when you bring it out. If you pick up their leash and they’re overcome with excitement, they like their leash. If they cower and hide, they’re not a fan of their leash.

Whatever the reason, it’s almost universal that dogs show some form of emotion when you reach for their leash. But does that mean the dog loves the leash itself? 

Let’s explore the reasons why your dog may or may not explode with excitement every time you reach for the leash and get ready to go outside.

Do Dogs Like Being On a Leash?

Being on a leash can be an extremely exciting time for dogs. It’s the signal that means they are going to new places and will get to see and smell new things. But the leash itself can be restrictive at times, and some dogs may resent this or act out in an attempt to get more freedom.

A dog’s behavior on a leash is widely dependent on the dog and their experiences with leashes so far in their life. Some dogs are perfectly content walking close to you whether they are on a leash or not, and others may have extremely high energy and insist on having an entire field to run around whether you are attached to the other end of the leash or not.

Much of what determines whether a dog likes being on a leash is dependent on their early life experiences with leashes.

Top 6 Reasons Dogs Love Leashes

They know it’s a signal to do their favorite thing 

When your dog hears the jingle of the clip on the leash, they know it’s time to go outside. 

Outside means many things for dogs and most of those things are fun and enjoyable. As a result, your dog will show happiness when he or she sees that beautiful leash being pulled out of hibernation.

They get to go to the bathroom

Most dogs are kept indoors while their favorite human is at work or attending school. This means they’re given specific times outside to go to the bathroom. 

A good boy or girl will be very happy when they see you come home and grab their leash. It means it’s time to go outside for a potty break.

They get to have some exercise

Many dogs are extremely energetic and need ample amounts of exercise each day to be satisfied. Walks, for the most part, are dog’s only way to release their built up energy.

Without this outlet for their energy, they can develop bad habits such as chewing on furniture, howling or barking indoors, or other rambunctious and unwanted behavior.

You don’t want that, and neither do they, which is why they love the sight of their leash. Exercise time!

They get to see other people, dogs and/or animals

Getting the chance to meet and greet other dogs can be very exciting. Maybe it’s a dog your dog meets every day on the same walk, or maybe it’s someone entirely new! 

Dogs love meeting new friends whether they are 4-legged or 2-legged. 

Not to mention your pup might get the chance to see other animals including birds, squirrels or cats which can be very exciting.

Dogs are social animals and seeing their leash come out is a trigger letting them know they’re going to be able to be social very soon!

They get to spend quality time with you

You are your dog’s entire world. You come home from work or school after several hours and reach for the leash to take your dog out. This is a very exciting time since your dog knows they go on one end of that leash and you’re on the other. 

Quality 1-on-1 time. 

Your dog will be the focus of your attention during this time and will probably get some much loved pets, play time, hugs or ear scratches while out on the walk with you.

They get to smell unique/familiar smells

Every dog loves smelling new smells! 

This is a universal “dog thing” they all share. When out on walks, your dog gets to take in all the new smells of whoever or whatever may have walked by since the last time they were out on a walk. 

Being able to smell new things gives your dog mental stimulation and helps curb boredom when they are stuck home alone during the day.

Not to mention they get to smell that fire hydrant to make sure it’s still ‘their’ territory.

And proceed to remind everyone who’s it is if the smell has changed…

Top 4 Reasons Dogs Dislike Leashes

They have limited freedom

The standard leash is around 6 feet in length which does not give your dog much room to run and play on his or her own. 

Many dogs might show some signs of being unhappy on a leash simply due to being restricted from doing whatever they want when they want to do it.

When pulling or being pulled, it puts pressure on their throat

Your dog may be in the middle of sniffing something and you decide it’s time to walk. So, you pull on your dog’s leash which moves them away from the scent. 

The pressure this puts on their neck can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for some breeds. The same damage can happen if your dog is the puller themselves. 

Restricted from smelling things they want to explore

Dogs are known for their amazing sense of smell and sniffing new things is one of their great pleasures. When a dog is out and about, they want to sniff everything! 

You simply may not have time to let your dog turn a 10 minute walk into an hour-long sniff fest. And when you pull them away from a great new smell your dog can become a bit upset about it.

They aren’t in control

Dogs love being independent, but a leash can remove some of this independence from them. You determine where they can walk and how long they can be outside, and some dogs don’t like this. 

They might try to pull harder, bark or whine if they want to go a certain direction. Or they may act like they want to go back outside right after their walk has concluded.

5 Tips To Make Your Dog Like Their Leash

Use a leash on them frequently from a young age

If you get a new puppy, teaching them early on that their leash is a good thing and not a punishment is important. A leash means going outside, exploring and seeing new things and should be a signal for happy and fun things. 

Puppies that understand this will always have a positive association with their leash. Whether they are good walkers on their leash is another story.

Train them to walk loose-leash

A dog that is frequently yanked around by their leash isn’t going to love being attached to a leash.

They may even bite at the leash in an attempt to break free.

By training them to loose leash walk they will hardly notice that a leash is being used. Instead of them thinking of pain, choking, biting when they see their leash, they’ll think exercise, fun, smells, playtime.

Make the leash a positive association for them

If someone uses a leash only to tie their dog up and restrain them and never for walks or fun times, they won’t like the leash.

If you want your dog to like their leash, something fun for them has to follow after taking it out. When a dog knows they get to enjoy some fresh air and burn off some steam a leash will always be warmly welcomed by them.

Don’t aggressively pull on the leash

Being on a leash should never equal anything painful for your dog. Excessive pulling on a leash can put loads of pressure on their neck which can cause pain or even severe injuries. 

It’s important to be gentle when your dog is on their leash and never yank or jerk firmly on it. 

Don’t tie them to things with a leash

Using the leash as a tie out can be dangerous and uncomfortable for dogs. Many leashes are very short and using it as a tool to tie them to things can lead to your dog becoming tangled or choked. 

This can also go back to only using the leash for positive experiences; if you tie your dog up using the leash, it means you’re leaving them. 

You might just be running into a store to grab a snack, but your dog may associate the leash with being left somewhere without you.

Final Thoughts

Leashes can be loved by dogs but they can also be strongly disliked.

It all comes down to how you use their dog leash.

So long as your dog gets to enjoy a positive experience after being attached to their leash, your dog will have no problems liking their leash.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Are Bungee Dog Leashes Any Good? (The Truth..)

6 Reasons Your Dog Leash Won’t Last + 3 Helpful Tips

5 Ways Using A Dog Leash Can Be VERY Cruel

Are Leather Dog Leashes Good? (The Truth..)

Alec Littlejohn

Founder and Reviewer at Pawscessories. He is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! He grew up in a family of vets and to this day he helps out around the family clinic and shares his learnings on Pawscessories. Learn more about Alec's story here

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