If you have been around the trails in Missoula (or any similar town) on a weekend afternoon, you are aware that there are a whole lot of folks out there who like to run or hike with their dogs. In fact, I’d say the odds are pretty good that you’re one of them. If not, you might not get a whole lot out of this post, except for a chance to get in on the conversation next time all your “dog-parent” friends are talking about taking their canine companions out adventuring.
Here’s the thing: it’s not just one type of person who owns a dog, and it’s not just one type of dog who’s out there in need of exercise. And like it or not, all those dogs sometimes need to be on a leash, whether it’s because of rules, trail etiquette, or just common sense. What you may not realize, though, is that there are a variety of options out there to match the specific leash needs of whatever human/dog combo you happen to be a part of.
Since my 10 year-old husky, Kava, is not particularly suited to high-mileage summer running (fur is a problem when it’s 90 degrees out), this time of year is when she gets out a lot. We are currently getting ready for the Snow Joke Half Marathon, which will take place February 24th, so I have been trying to get her out somewhat regularly in preparation.
For years, I have used the Ruffwear Roamer leash, which I like for the most part, with one specific complaint: it is bulky. For runs where I am keeping my dog on the leash the whole time, it is great because of the waist belt and the elastic webbing that allows for a little movement without having too long of a leash that flops around when the dog is close. However, if I get to a trail where she can run free, I have to wrap it around my waist twice and buckle it to itself, which means I am wearing a giant, heavy belt, which really cramps my style when I am trying to crush all the KOM’s on Waterworks, er, um, I mean, go for a nice pleasant jog. Until recently, I have always dealt with it, but only because it was what I had.
Then I tried the Rad Dog Release N Run leash. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this leash is the answer to all the problems I have ever had with dog leashes, but it does solve some issues.
The feature that really gives the Release N Run leash an edge is that it retracts into a collar when not in use. As you can see in the photo, the leash itself it a lightweight cord with a handle made of nylon webbing. The whole collar, including the leash, weighs in at 4.7 ounces. Kava hasn’t complained about the difference between that and her standard collar, which comes in at 3 ounces. Not that she complains about anything when she gets to go for a run. By comparison, the Ruffwear leash is a bit of a tank at just over 9 ounces.
When the off-leash area is reached and it’s time for some freedom, there’s no fiddling or situating, I just let go of the handle and we’re ready to go.
Another big advantage of this system is evident when it’s time to leash up again. Once again, no fiddling or situating; just grab the handle and you’ve got a fully leashed dog once again. This makes it very easy to alternate between on and off-leash sections, like if you have a short road section between trails, or vice versa.
I think the pros of this collar/leash are obvious if you are on and off trails a lot. Really the only downfall that I have run into is the length of the leash itself. It is advertised as being a 4-foot cord, but the 4 feet is measured from the end of the handle to the far end of the collar. As I found, the distance from your hand to the dog’s neck at full extension is actually about 3 feet, 2 inches, which I think is a little short for a rambunctious dog. At first, this was annoying, but to be honest, Kava has been getting more used to it the more we run with it, and now she tends to stay right next to me when I have her on the leash, and since I am not particularly tall and she is not particularly short, it hasn’t been much of an issue. I will say though, generally if I have her on this leash, I am only keeping her on the leash for a short part of the run, until we get to a point where she can be set loose. Personally, I’d rather not carry something in my hand, so if we are headed out for a road run where she is going to have to be leashed the whole time, I will go for the one with the waist belt.
All in all, I think most people would end up liking this leash a lot. There are a few situations you might want to avoid it:
– If you only run on roads with traffic, and your dog needs to be leashed the whole time, or over about 80% of the time, the short length may get annoying.
– If your dog needs to be leashed all the time due to aggression, a particularly, um, adventurous spirit, or otherwise, once again I would opt for something a little longer, or with a waist belt.
– If you are 6’4″ and you like to go running with your dachshund, first of all, it will make my day if I see you out running. Second of all, do yourself a favor and get the longest leash you can find. That is not this one. Seriously though, I hope there is someone out there who fits that description.
Personally, I’d say I end up reaching for the Rad Dog leash about 80% of the time. For the Snow Joke Half at the end of the month? I think I will stick with the Ruffwear leash for that, simply because she has to be leashed the whole time.