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proper use of slip lead on a dog

How to Use a Slip Lead on a Dog (With Photos!)

While not intended for permanent use, slip leads are a useful tool for controlling a dog. We show you when and how to use a slip lead on a dog.

Slip leads are useful to own, and can be an ideal option to use in certain situations, such as rescuing a dog. When it comes to slip leads, it is important that they are used correctly.

They are unique as they are essentially a collar and a lead in one. 

A slip lead is a combination of a collar and a lead. Instead of the lead attaching to a separate collar, the slip lead can be transformed into both a collar and lead by feeding one end of the leash through a ring at the other end.

Let’s look at the various types of slip leads, when they can be useful, and how to properly use them.

The Different Types Of Slip Leads

Slip leads can be purchased in a number of different designs and materials. This is why it is important to ensure you are choosing the right option for your needs and breed.

There are two main types of slip lead, one that features a stopper tab to keep the slip lead secure, and one that does not feature the stopper tab

The slip leads can be purchased in a number of different materials, depending on the strength needed and personal preference:

How To Choose The Best Slip Lead

The best slip lead will depend on the breed and your preferences. However, in general, the rope slip leads are far better than the chain leads. The chain leads can be potentially damaging to the dog, and should be avoided where possible. 

When choosing, ensure that the lead is of a good quality, and is durable. The safety of your dog is dependent on the soundness of the lead. You will also want to ensure it is the correct size. They are generally available in a 4 foot or 6 foot length. 

How To Use A Slip Lead

Slip leads are simple to use, but it is very important that you use them correctly to avoid risking danger to your dog or yourself.

Follow these steps to properly use a slip lead:

  1. Create a loop large enough to easily go over your dog’s head.
  2. Hold the loop and leash so that it forms a “P”, with the loop portion hanging down and the leash portion handing parallel to the ground.
  3. Place the loop over your dog’s head.
  4. Draw the loop closed so it is snug around the dog’s upper neck.

Adjust the slip lead.

correct orientation of slip lead for dog
Make a “P” with the slip lead.
wrong way to use a slip lead on a dog
Make sure the ring hangs from the “leash” portion of the slip lead, not the opposite way as shown here.
placing loop of slip lead over dog's head

How To Adjust A Slip Lead

If the slip lead is too loose, the dog will be able to wriggle out of it. If it is too tight, this is dangerous and can choke the dog. The lead can be adjusted by moving the stopper to allow more or less of the lead through it. 

The slip lead should sit high up on a dog’s neck in comparison to a dog’s collar. If it sits on the throat and the dog pulls a lot, when it tightens this can damage the dog’s throat. By placing it closer to the dog’s jaw, this helps to prevent this from occurring.

correct positioning of slip lead over dog's head
Position the slip lead high on the dog’s neck behind their ears.

A general rule of thumb is to make the loop just tight enough around the dog’s upper neck so that you can comfortably slide two fingers between the slip lead and your dog’s neck.

How To Release A Slip Lead

Releasing the slip lead is fairly straight forward. You will need to first move the stopper or slide (if using a stopper model) and then release your pressure on the lead, so that slack is created.

Once the grip is relaxed, the slip lead will naturally loosen, and it can be easily removed from the neck of the dog. 

How To Make A Slip Lead Into A Harness

If you want to take pressure off a dog’s neck, and you want the slip lead to fit more comfortably, you can make the slip lead into a harness. To do this, you will first need to loop the lead around the neck of the dog as you typically would. 

From here, take the loop, and loosen it so that it sits on the shoulders of the dog. Take the lead off the dog and wrap this underneath both their legs so that it is sitting behind the legs on the dog’s chest. 

Next, take the rest of the lead and loop it behind the dog’s front legs, so that it is sitting on its chest. Feed the lead through the loop created around the dog’s shoulder and secure in place. 

When Is Best To Use A Slip Lead?

It is best to use slip leads in an emergency situation or if you are rescuing a dog. They can be used for quick transportation, and loading and removing dogs from a vehicle.

They can be used for some training purposes, but they are not an ideal permanent solution. 

Slip leads are convenient because a dog doesn’t have to have a collar on to use them, they are easily looped over a dog’s head without the need to fasten collars or leash connectors, and one size basically fits all dogs.

For these reasons, many vets use slip leads to transport dogs around their facility.

When To Avoid Using A Slip Lead?

You should avoid using a slip lead as a permanent solution. They should not be used in most training situations, and they are not suitable for dogs that pull a lot because they can cause neck damage. Even if you choose to give collar corrections (versus positive reinforcement), a slip lead is not a good tool to do so as they don’t release as precisely as, say, a prong collar.

A dog should never be left unattended while wearing a slip lead as they can easily get it caught on something and choke themselves.

How To Use A Slip Lead For Dogs That Pull

While slip leads are not a permanent training solution, they can be useful to use if a dog is pulling due to their nature. You will want to use it in a similar way to a standard lead.

When the dog begins to pull on the lead, stop the walk, and only continue walking when the dog stops pulling and the leash releases. It requires time and patience, but it can be an effective method.

Tips on Using A Slip Lead

Given the way in which a slip lead works, care needs to be taken. Unlike a collar which is set to a specific size, the slip lead can move easily from being tight to loose. 

As a result, if a dog is pulling a significant amount, this can cause the lead to tighten around the dog’s throat. This can be uncomfortable and painful for the dog. Ensure the dog can properly walk on a lead before using the slip lead.

It is important to educate yourself on the correct ways in which to use a slip lead. You will want to test the slip lead before you try to place it on the dog and then practice with them in a safe, fenced environment where there is no risk if the dog comes loose from the slip lead.

Once you are comfortable using a slip lead with a dog and know the tolerances for it to be able to slip off the dog’s head, you can use it in public places.

Why Slip Leads And Collars Are Effective

They are effective because of the way in which they work. They are easily put on a dog and are a one-piece solution.

They tighten around the dog’s neck when the dog pulls, which discourages this behavior. When used correctly, they do not cause harm, but can help teach the dog that pulling will hinder and stop the walk. 

You can teach a dog not to pull using a normal leash and buckle collar by employing the same “stop walking until the dog stops pulling” technique. So a slip lead isn’t necessarily advantageous for training not to pull.

Another tool to keep your dog from pulling is a “no pull harness“. These are very effective in stopping the pulling, but they only solve the problem by making it uncomfortable for the dog to pull rather than teaching them how to walk nicely on a loose lead. It’s a short term solution, but it’s better in the long run to teach them how to walk on a loose leash.


As you can see, when slip leads are used correctly, they are perfectly safe and fine to use, especially in certain situations when a traditional leash and collar are not available.They should not be considered a permanent solution for your everyday leash and collar needs.

We would always recommend practicing placing on the slip leads beforehand to ensure you are doing this correctly. Remember that it should never be placed directly around a dog’s throat and should provide slack when you release tension on the leash.

Superb Dog Editor

Superb Dog Editor