An earlier post described the advantages of using the hands free leash over the conventional hand held leash for walking your fur kid. In response to the feedback and questions received since, this post will describe some tips and suggestions that will help optimize your use of the hands free leash.
To start, the waistbelt should be worn as you would wear a conventional belt- fairly snug at the waist and not on the hips and not so loose that it can easily rotate. In this position, you make the most of the balance and strength of the core of your body. The buckle goes in the front at your belly button, and the o-rings in the centre of your back. The two adjusting slides on each side of the belt allow it to be fitted over your clothing. If you are wearing several layers, wear the belt over top of your outer most layer. This allows for direct access to any poop bags or other accessories that may be attached to the belt as well as for any handling/adjusting of the equipment that may be needed during a walk.
The lead(s) clip to the o-rings at the back of the waistbelt. Clip onto the lower half of the o-ring as opposed to the upper half as this will cause the waistbelt to twist. My preference is to clip in a downward direction as this seems to be more difficult to accidentally come undone. Attaching to the left or right o-ring is completely arbitrary. With a single fur kid, perhaps choose the side you prefer him/her to walk on. With multiple fur kids, evenly distribute between the two 0-rings. For adjustable leads, clip the looped end to the waistbelt leaving the single strand end to attach to your fur kid’s collar. This is to keep the looped end up and away from the feet of your fur kid so they do not get tangled up in it. This is not a concern with the fixed length leads.
The length to set the adjustable leads depends on the ability of your fur kid as well as the activity being undertaken. For a structured walk, the lead should be just long enough to form a loose J-hook off your waist without touching the ground. Fur kids who pull because of unfamiliarity with packwalking and/or respecting leadership should be on the shortest length possible. If the shortest adjustment is still too much play, unclip the lead from the waistbelt and loop the entire lead over the waistbelt in between the o-rings. Wrap the lead around the waistbelt in this spot at least once to ensure it won’t slide around on the belt before clipping both ends to the fur kid’s collar. In this way, your fur kid will have no choice but to walk directly behind your butt. Gradually lengthen the lead as your fur kid progresses with respecting your leadership. Fur kids who are just easily distracted and/or chronic sniffers can learn to focus on walks without doing this super short lead. Simply adjust the lead to as short as possible and then position your fur kid next to you. Grasp the lead by the clip closest to their collar and hold it directly above their head so they cannot bob down to sniff or look beside/behind them. Force isn’t necessary, just hold it with enough tension to keep their head erect and immobile- picture a show dog stance. Correct with a tug and verbal disagreement when the head bobs.
Generally, for walks in more populated places like bike paths and busy city streets, keep the leads on the short side for safety reasons as well as a courtesy to other pedestrians. For more casual walks in open spaces where fur kids have your permission to wander, allow longer lengths. Longer lengths are also suitable for jogging or biking with your fur kid, but again, take into consideration the traffic volume of where these activities are done.
Try these tips to make the most of your hands free leash. When you do need to grab the lead it should be for a correction snap or an immediate restraint for an unexpected situation. Happy packwalking!