It’s no secret Akitas are big dogs and they are just as strong as they look too. Add in their strong prey drive, and they can be a handful when walking on a leash, even if you have worked to train your Akita for leash walking, sometimes instincts kick in. There are many options for leash and collar combinations for your Akita, but whether you’re walking your Akita with a traditional flat neck collar or a harness or a prong collar, we think we have the PERFECT leash for you!
Why We Don’t Recommend Retractable Leashes
Retractable leashes are very popular with dogs these days. At first glance, it does seem like they could be extremely convenient! If your Akita wants to trot off into the woods to do their business, you don’t have to walk out there with them. If your Akita is constantly pulling, you can let the leash extend to give them a little more leeway, and of course if you want to keep them on a shorter lead, then you can lock the leash at a specific length. But retractable leashes have several drawbacks and can actually be DANGEROUS for your dog.
First, the handle of many retractable leashes is made of a plastic design that can be quite slippery if your hand is wet or sweaty. Obviously this isn’t ideal if your Akita suddenly tries to take off after a squirrel, and the leash goes flying out of your hand! But even some of the more expensive retractable leashes, with a nice rubber grip have a bigger problem…
Your hand can get stuck in the handle of the leash and break your hand or fingers.
Unfortunately this has happened to us more than once when using a retractable. If your hand is inside the handle and the leash gets turned at an angle, it can twist your hands or fingers and potentially break them. Not good.
But the danger in retractable leashes doesn’t stop there. They can also be dangerous for your Akita. First, if you live in a wooded area like we do, it’s very easy for our Akita to get tangled up on some small branches or in between trees, but the real danger lies in when your Akita bolts after a chipmunk and you don’t have the leash locked….what happens when your dog gets to the end of the leash? They get jerked violently by the neck.
You may be thinking that this can happen with any leash, but the difference with a retractable leash is that because they are so long, your dog can get more speed and momentum before they get to the end of the leash, which makes it very dangerous for your dog.
Although I’ve been impressed with how long our retractable leash has lasted, as we bought it for our last Akita (mix), who lived to be 13, retractable leashes do have some functionality issues at times with the leash getting jammed, and then not retracting. This usually happens when the leash is fully extended, which just makes everything more of a hassle.
Lastly, we don’t recommend retractable leashes, because they don’t instill good leash walking habits with your pup. They give your Akita too much roaming freedom, and they will not have a good sense of what their true boundaries are when they are on a walk.
So for those reasons, we use a retractable very sparingly with our Akita. Really the only time we use one is when our Akita ate something that upset his tummy, and he has to run out in the woods to do an emergency potty break!
The Best Leash for Your Akita
Our favorite leash is the TSPRO Hands Free Leash, and here’s why:
We’ve come to learn that the best leash for your Akita has several attributes. First you want something made of a strong material like nylon for the strapping, and metal for the actual clip that attaches to your Akita’s collar or harness. Secondly a leash with two handles is ideal. Of course you want something to grip at the end of the leash, and nylon is much more comfortable on the hand than plastic! But you also want a handle down by the base of the leash, this is used for walking your dog with your dog directly at your side, which is a skill you’ll want to instill in your Akita as soon as possible.
But, the absolute best feature of our favorite leash is the fact that you can unclip the top handle. This feature was originally designed so you could clip your dog’s leash to your belt, or a chest strap for yourself when you go for a run, but this feature makes life incredibly easy when bringing your Akita out in public and stopping somewhere for lunch.
Bringing our Akita out in public is important for us to do on a regular basis, to keep him socialized with both people and other animals. There’s nothing better than grabbing lunch on a restaurant’s patio on a beautiful summer day, and this leash makes clipping our Akita to our chair or table incredibly easy.
This feature also comes in handy if you need to clip your Akita to a tree for a moment while you tie your shoe, or if you’re stopping to have a quick snack on a long hike, or preparing a portable water bowl for them. Being able to go hands free at a moment’s notice is an incredibly useful feature for any dog leash.
You can also get this leash with or without a bungee extension. Personally I like the extra give the bungee adds, so the dog isn’t forcefully jerked if/when they reach the end of the leash.
In the end, there are a lot of different dog leashes out there, and the one that works best for you may be different from what works for us, but after trying several different dog leashes for our American Akita, Haga, we think the TSPRO Hands Free Leash, is definitely the way to go. No matter which leash you go with, don’t cheap out! A cheap leash is asking for disaster. The last thing you want is for your leash to break as your Akita bolts into traffic after a car, or off into the woods chasing a deer or turkey.
A good quality leash can literally save your Akitas life!