Better Walks Ahead
"I have been using the FIDA ABS leash 2-3x a day for a month now, and my recommendation is, IT’S WORTH IT. If you want to more info on why, I’ll delve into what our experience has been like using this with a 1.5yr old hunting-breed dog who can pull over 250lbs and can’t be trusted off-leash. We went with the XL even though our dog is only 65lbs, but it’s a good fit for us. However, I’m not entirely sure there’s any difference between L and XL other than price…
We have been putting this leash under serious strain, and I have been impressed to find that it holds up remarkably well - while still being lightweight and comfortable to use. In spite of my dog constantly catching and wrapping the tether on/around trees, rocks, and underbrush, there is not a single snag or stain on the fabric. I’m growing convinced that the only way to damage the nylon is to let your dog chew on it. Even though we never leave the leash out, unfortunately our mischievous pup still managed this once when the tether was hanging in front of his face and we were distracted. That did put a small fray on the edge where he gave it a few gnaws, but it has not yet deteriorated any farther. Because of its design, we have also never had a problem with the tether jamming during retraction - which is common with some other leashes. Even after a couple of rough falls onto concrete, there’s also no scratches or cracks on the handle.
Despite being a small person, I find the handle to be sustainably comfortable - even when using for more than 2hrs. Sweaty palms make the grip a little less secure, but that’s normal for any non-absorbable material. But even on the hottest day, it wouldn’t slip out of your hands. The Auto Break System is very helpful but not an end-all to lunging (if your pup is prone to doing that). It usually gives our dog another inch of leash per second of full-power pulling, but that at least gives me enough time to get my feet firmly planted, manually lock the leash, and expert a counter force to bring him to a full stop. If he dog started chasing something on a regular leash, it would typically take me about 10-12ft to make that happen.
For the most part, this lets our dog feel like he’s off-leash and isn’t too much trouble for the us to use as handlers (especially compared to a long line). I don’t need to write an essay explaining my reasoning for trying a retractable leash after training seven dogs to walk in-heel, but our current boy has some peculiar and extraordinarily strong breed instincts that need to be nurtured and not curtailed. That largely means letting him sniff / track as much as he wants while we walk, which we have found far easier to manage when he has 15ft vs 6ft. Like all methods that allow your dog more independence, this comes with some risks (like heading into streets without you or getting in peoples’ way) but these can be largely avoided with a basic “stay” command. Certainly, the risks of using this are nothing compared to letting your dog off-leash - even if you think they can be completely trusted. If anything, having a connection between you and your dog is always safer. And in the few moments I’ve had to quickly close the distance between myself and the pup, even grabbing and pulling the nylon tether on this leash wasn’t a problem. The only time I feel like this leash hasn’t been superior to a standard leash is when navigating dense foot-traffic (or if your dog is flailing around wildly). But thankfully neither of those things happens a lot, even though we live in San Francisco and sometimes have a wild hellhound on our hands."