If you’re a runner, chances are you’ve tried taking your pup with you for a jog. It’s a great activity to do as a pair. It keeps both dog and owner healthy, and can be great for burning off extra energy for the more active dogs among us.
But it can be difficult on both runner and dog using a standard leash and harness. The solution is to get a hands-free running leash. These leashes allow you to stay focused on running instead of controlling your dog or keeping your balance.
If you aren’t a runner, but you find your hands full with kids, strollers, or anything else, a hands-free leash can be used for walking your dog while managing the rest of your family. In either case, read on for the best hands-free running leashes.
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Benefits of Hands-Free Running Leashes
First of all, what is a hands-free leash? It’s a leash that attaches from your dog’s harness to a belt that you wear. The leash is made of bungee material that absorbs the shock from your dog pulling. The belt design allows you to run without holding a leash handle in your hand. Your dog can run next to you or in front of you, depending on the running terrain.
This has numerous benefits for both parties:
- As a runner, this helps you practice better running form, as you are not pulling back with one arm or twisting your body to compensate for the dog’s motion. Your shoulders should move in alignment with your gait, your arms should be at a 90 degree angle, and your hands should be relaxed.
- Having any dog lunging or jumping softened by the bungee cord, and having the leash connected to your waist can help improve the consistency of your pace.
- These things combined can allow you to put more energy into running instead of managing your dog.
- Depending on how far forward your dog likes to run, a hands-free leash can also help reduce strain on your dog’s body. Your running gait will naturally pull back on the leash with every other step. If there’s little slack in the leash, this might jerk your dog backward.
All in all, this should make running a much smoother experience for both you and your pup. If you aren’t a runner, but know a dog parent who enjoys running, hands-free leashes make for a great gift idea.
As always, be sure to consult a doctor and consider your own specific health situation before beginning a running regimen.
Features to Look For in a Running Leash
There are a few different considerations when buying a hands-free leash.
Style of leash: while the overall belt plus bungee leash design is pretty consistent, there are variations on running leashes. If you have a dog that likes to switch which side they’re running on, you can get a belt with a sliding leash clip design. This is in contrast to running leashes that have a fixed leash attachment point.
Leash length: while you won’t find excessively long running leashes (since they’re a trip hazard), there is some variety in the length of leash available, and the amount of stretch. You’ll want an option that fits your running gait, and your dog’s positioning.
Waistband size and comfort: it’s important to have a well-fitting and comfortable running belt. We’ve included waistband sizes in the list below.
Belt storage: some people like to carry water bottles, phones, etc when they run. Some of these running leash options have belts with storage for various running items.
Safety features: like most running gear, you have the option to get hands-free leashes in bright colors with reflective trim.
Traffic handles: a bungee leash is difficult to hold onto by itself. If you are at a traffic stop or need to pull your dog away from something, traffic handles give you an easy thing to hold on to.
If you have more than one dog, you can look for dog couplers to attach multiple bungee leashes to your belt.
The Best Overall Hands-Free Running Leash
The Tuff Mutt Running Leash is the best overall hands-free option because of its glowing reviews, multiple features (such as traffic handles, a lifetime guarantee, and reflective threading). It’s also got one of the most inclusive waistband sizes on the market at 48″. Lastly, Tuff Mutt’s “easy glide” belt allows your dog to switch from one side to the other, and the leash is long enough for your pup to run beside you or ahead of you.
- Length: 48″, stretches up to 60″
- Waistband size: 48″
- Easy glide belt design that lets your dog switch sides
- Two traffic handles
- Reflective threading
- Lifetime guarantee
- No storage for water bottles, phones, etc.
- Smaller dogs will not be able to take advantage of bungee
- Belt does not have additional padding for back comfort
Other Running Leash Options
If you like the sound of this running leash, but want additional belt padding, check out this padded belt made for skijoring (leash not included).
If you like the sound of the Tuff Mutt leash but want something with a shorter length, check out this 3-foot Mighty Paw Hands Free Dog Leash.
On the other hand, if you want more leash length, check out Ruffwear’s Roamer Leash, available in 5.5-7′ and 7.3-11′ lengths.
If you like this leash but want to adapt it for more dogs, check out this bungee adapter.