Buying advice for dog leashes is a lot like that old chestnut about buying yourself a bed: You're going to spend a good chunk of your life in it, so pick a good one. Leashes are a crucial training tool and should be rugged enough to last a long time, yet still completely comfortable for both your dog and you – after all, both you and your pet will spend precisely the same amount of time using it.
To say there are many options is an absurd understatement, but it's pretty easy to narrow down the options quickly. Ideally, only go for leashes made of leather, which is strong yet quickly wears in nicely so that it's comfortable to wear and hold in any weather. Leather also won't hurt your dog's teeth as a chain leash can, should your pup decide to chew on it. Leather, as well, poses less of a threat to your dog's stomach than nylon, should your dog attempt to make a meal of it. Nylon leashes can produce nasty burns if the leash gets tugged from your hand or is wrapped around your leg. And while they're convenient, retractable leashes can snap without warning when used with larger dogs.
For dogs of any size, a 4- to 6-foot leash is typically the sweet spot (taller folks with small dogs, and shorter people with tall dogs should adjust accordingly). For smaller dogs, choose a slim 3/8-inch-thick leash (thicker ones may be too heavy); for medium-size and larger dogs, go bigger with 3/4-inch-thick and up. Make sure the leash has a sturdy brass or stainless steel clip to attach to your dog's collar – if it feels cheap or has too much play, it can get stuck open or snap completely. Models with quick-release clasps are more expensive, but are far more convenient. In particular, Fordogtrainers.com offers great handmade leashes that are a little more expensive than typical generic pet store options but are sturdy and last a long time.
MensJournal.com contributor Taylor McKenna is the head trainer and a co-founder of The Confident Dog in Brooklyn, New York.