Regular Leash vs. Hands-free Waist Leash: Which is Safer When Your Dog Pulls?

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By Dr. Sophia Yin

R.I.P. 1966-2014

A reader recently asked me whether a waist leash is safe when you have a dog that pulls hard. Are you more likely to get pulled over with a waist leash or when holding a traditional hand-held leash?

It’s a matter of simple physics. You’re more likely to topple when holding the leash in your hand because the force is applied away from your center of gravity.  Plus if you’re not paying attention and your dog takes off you’ll feel like your arm’s getting yanked out of your socket.

If however, the leash is around your waist and the dog pulls, because your waist is close to your center of gravity, you’re more likely to stay on your feet, especially if you bend your legs and lower your body a little (not shown here).

In addition, with this particular Buddy System leash (, you can detach the leash if you want so that the dog is released.

What type of leash do you prefer?

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12 responses to “Regular Leash vs. Hands-free Waist Leash: Which is Safer When Your Dog Pulls?

  1. I like the waist leash prefer to use the european hands free leads.

    The over the shoulder version smile



  2. I now use a Buddy System leash. I think if I had started on one many decades earlier I probably would not now have a torn rotator cuff. Decades of big dogs pulling on my arm could not have helped.

  3. I love having a hands free leash, but I also use a regular leash. It all depends on the circumstances. When I’m walking all three dogs, regular leashes. Using one of my three as the demo or neutral dog in class, hands free so I can help the humans with training their dogs. I train my own dogs naked as much as possible, but otherwise the hands free leash.

    The hands free leash is just so easy to deal with, you just ignore it and because you aren’t sending any energy down that leash at all, the dogs seem to behavior better.

    I agree about the center of gravity point, I’m constantly assisting people, especially women, on consciously lowering their center of gravity so they don’t get pulled over and face planted until their dog is not pulling anymore.

  4. I quickly evolved to using a waist leash with my rambunctious GSD Assistance dog pup. I tried around the shoulder, like a purse, first…but well, if I wanted to avoid the chiropractor, I moved it down. I wish this was written back then, as his breeder thought I was insane for having him attached around my waist, in a wheelchair. Like he would drag me to my death. Instead, it’s like we’re connected, it’s eerie how he adjusts his speed to mine, even if he’s ahead of me. We are a well oiled machine smile

  5. Leashes attached to teh ‘waist’ can cause serious back injuries.

    The belt to which the leash is attached should be around the *hips* for safety.

    1. Never use a leash if you ride a bike with your dog. It’s extremely dangerous for both you AND your dog.

  6. I saw a man in his 70’s walking his dog with the leash around his waist. The man’s gait was short and choppy, a sign of tight hip flexors and calves and is probably far less stability than he thinks. His foot placement was also of the sort that had him riding up on his toes, meaning, he’s not planting his feet on the ground when he walks heel to toe. Rather, he’s going in on the ball of his foot. Just looking at him, I could tell that he’s a candidate for falling in the not so distant future. Lacking flexibility, he does NOT have the agility to recover should the dog hesitate, or get spooked and pull.
    The result is that for this man, a non retractable leash would be the far smarter option. His payoff if something happens could be any number of broken extremities, lacerations, and a head injury if he hits a curb.
    What you choose is entirely dependent on your physical condition and the training of the dog.

  7. ….and in a powerful dog, a sledge dog like a Husky, or a dog heavier than the person such as a Mastiff that can overcome the centre of gravity, I suggest that a leash that cannot be discarded in an emergency handling situation is nothing but dangerous.

    I cannot express how dangerous I thing a waist leash can potentially be regardless of dog, as a momentry lapse of concentration leading any dog can cause a situation of being overwhelmed.

    1. If you read the article, there are those with a quick release. However, having used both on extremely large and powerful dogs (I rescue rare giant breed dogs, some as heavy as 185lbs), the waist leash is much more stable, especially if you are not paying attention. The waiste leash is just below the human center of gravity so the dog has a lot less leverage as opposed to a handheld leash. If your dog can drag you without stopping, you have a whole other issue.

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