6 Best Hands-Free Dog Leashes (2021 Reviews): For Running, Walking, & Hiking

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Running with your dog using a traditional leash can be cumbersome.

Not only will it restrict your natural movement, but you will also constantly tug on your furry friend as you move your arm back and forth, which can be annoying to them.

And jogging with your fido off-leash isn’t always possible.

That’s when a hands-free dog leash can come in handy.

With a bungee lead attached to an adjustable belt wrapping around your waist, it can keep both your hands completely free of moving when running, jogging, walking, hiking, and exercising with your canine.

That also means you will have the ability to check your phone, pick up your dog’s poop, or reach in your pocket for treats to train your pup, and still have full control of your furkid.

Here are our top 6 picks for hands-free dog leashes.

** Table: Hands-Free Dog Leashes

1. Our Favorite - Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash

Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash
Photo Credit: Tuff Mutt

The Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash is perhaps the most popular hands-free dog leash for runners. And it is, of course, also our favorite, with a durable dual-handle to give you extra control, allowing you to bring your dog closer to you when needed. And that’s what most products out there lack.

It is a four-foot leash, made of high-quality and premium metal hardware, and can stretch out to five feet when fully extended. Combined with a durable bungee placed between the two handles to help minimize and absorb the shock when your dog unexpectedly lunges, ultimately preventing your canine from hurting your back and hips. The clip can also slide along the belt to provide your fido with more freedom and allow them to move from side to side.

Additionally, this running leash has luminous reflective stitching to help keep both you and your dog safe on your late evening runs. And the belt is also adjustable to fit waists up to 42 inches. What’s more, Tuff Mutt offers a lifetime guarantee!

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2. Best for Large Dogs - Mighty Paw Hands Free Dog Leash

Mighty Paw Hands Free Dog Leash
Photo Credit: Mighty Paw

You’ve tested a few hands-free leashes before, and they are not enough to handle your big dog? Check out the Mighty Paw Hands Free Dog Leash.

It is 48 inches long and can stretch an additional 16 inches to provide adequate running room and make the run more comfortable. It is made of weather-proof nylon and durable hardware to ensure long-lasting usage, with strong bungee from one end down to the metal clip to prevent your four-legged friend from pulling you off the pace.

This hands-free dog leash also has reflective stitching for walks or runs after dark. Plus, it comes with a durable belt that fits waists between 26 and 42 inches and has a D-ring that can rotate around the belt to keep your dog right where you need them.

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3. Best for Running with 2 Dogs - Iron Doggy Runner’s Choice Hands-Free Dog Leash

Iron Doggy Runner’s Choice Hands-Free Dog Leash
Photo Credit: Iron Doggy

There aren’t many hands-free leashes out there that can take the shock out of those unpredictable pulls, lunges, and sudden changes of direction, especially when it comes to running with two dogs. However, the Iron Doggy Runner’s Choice Hands-Free Dog Leash is capable of dealing with that.

It is made of high-performance marine-grade materials with a uniquely designed bungee system to achieve a minimum breaking strength of 215 pounds. It also has three unique adjustable settings, which allow you to adjust the length of the lead from 30 inches to 54 inches. That also means you will be able to keep your dog within arm’s distance or give them maximum freedom if you have room to run. Additionally, it comes with two handles that offer instant control over your pup.

The belt fits waist sizes from 28 inches to 48 inches and has a swivel snap-hook that can slide back and forth as your dog moves. One thing though, you will have to buy extra leashes separately if you need to run with multiple dogs.

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4. Best for High Energy Sports - Ruffwear Roamer Dog Leash

Ruffwear Roamer Dog Leash
Photo Credit: Ruffwear

Not only do you plan to walk, hike, jog, and run with your dog, but also bike and ski with them? Then you would probably want to consider the Ruffwear Roamer Dog Leash.

It is a 7.3-foot hands-free lead that can stretch to a whopping 11 feet, providing more than enough room for all kinds of sports while ensuring a safe distance between you and your canine. It is made of stretchy wavelength webbing to absorb shock and allow your four-footed friend to comfortably explore and roam, coupled with a lightweight and easy-to-use swiveling Talon Clip that attaches to your dog’s harness.

Additionally, it has a padded traffic handle near the clip for a quick grab and a convenient accessory loop near the waist for clipping on poop bags or other small items. This running leash is also so versatile that it can be worn around the waist, hand-held, or secured to a tree or post.

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5. Best for Walking - Kurgo Hands Free Crossbody Dog Walking Belt & Leash

Kurgo Hands Free Crossbody Dog Walking Belt
Photo Credit: Kurgo

Don’t like running leashes that fit around your hip or waist? Check out the Kurgo Hands Free Crossbody Dog Walking Belt & Leash, which you will be wearing over your shoulder instead.

It is a 48-foot leash that includes a training handle near the harness clip, giving you the ability to take control of your dog very quickly. And what makes this lead stand out from the rest is that it is MOLLE-compatible, meaning you will be able to mark your unique journey together. Not only that, but it is also compatible with the Kurgo Web Keeper, allowing you to attach things like poop bags, flashlights, and keys!

The crossbody belt works best on frames between 5 feet and 6.5 feet and is also MOLLE-compatible. Plus, it comes with an optional sternum strap that will keep things closer to your body for extra control.

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6. Best with Storage - Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash with Pouch

Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash with Pouch
Photo Credit: Paw Lifestyles

Holding your smartphone in your hand or keeping it in your pocket while running is not ideal. But not everyone wears a phone armband when jogging. And if you are going to run with your dog with a hands-free leash, then you will find the Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash with Pouch useful as you can store your phone, keys, cash, and dog treats in the belt!

It is a 48 inches long shock-absorbing bungee lead that can extend up to 70 inches, with two conveniently placed handles that allow you to quickly grab your dog to move aside on the trail or stop them from pulling when they spot a squirrel. Made of rugged, wear-resistant nylon and a heavy-duty clip designed for dogs up to 150 pounds, finished with luminous reflective threading to keep both you and your pup visible to motorists.

The belt can accommodate waists up to 48 inches and includes a handy D-ring for attaching a dog poop bag holder or training clicker. To top it all, it comes with a 100% money-back guarantee!

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Best Hands Free Dog Leash for Running
Caption: Man is Running with His Dog

What is a Hands-Free Running Leash?

As its name implies, it is a leash that you don’t have to hold onto, and it usually consists of two parts. The first part is an adjustable belt that wraps around various parts of your body, some over your shoulder, while most slip around your waist, chest, or across your torso.

And the second part is a leash, typically made of a nylon webbing material, that goes from the belt to your dog’s harness to keep your fido close to you when running. And these leashes often have in-built shock-absorbing properties (bungee) to reduce the strain on your back and shoulders if your dog suddenly pulls, ultimately eliminating or minimizing the risk of injury.

Read More: How to Run With a Dog That Pulls: Tips and Tricks

Why Run with a Hands Free Leash?

There are too many benefits you can get from running with dogs. Both you and your canine can get the exercise required to stay fit, healthy, and happy. Not to mention, the stimulation can also help prevent or resolve some of the most common behavioral problems in dogs.

However, if you usually run with something in your hand, regardless if it is your phone or your dog’s water bottle, it will change your running gait, which can, over the long term, add stress to tissues not designed to deal with these stressors and cause injuries.

That’s why it is crucial to run with a hands-free dog leash. It allows you to enjoy a hands-free experience while running, and that essentially means you will be able to jog in your most natural motion as you don’t have to hold anything in your hands.

Not only do you get to enjoy the convenience, but you can also keep your pup in control and protect yourself from sudden jolts and strains if your furkid catches you off guard.

Best Dog Leashes for Running: Hands-Free Leashes vs. Conventional Leashes vs. Retractable Leashes

One of the most common questions people ask is which type of dog leashes is the best for running with dogs? Hands-free leashes, traditional leashes, or retractable leashes? Below are our humble opinions:

Hands-Free Dog Leashes

Hands-free dog exercise leashes are perhaps the most recommended leash for jogging with dogs due to all the benefits we’ve talked about earlier. However, they are not a good option for strong dogs who haven’t been properly leash trained as you can easily get pulled over and hurt yourself if your canine goes nuts, although most have a bungee section that helps absorb the shocks.

Traditional Leashes

Conventional leashes will cramp your running style and cause you to tug on your dog as you use your arms for momentum. That said, handheld leashes give you immediate control, allowing you to steer and stop your pup whenever you need to, and can prevent your novice dog from pulling you into dangerous situations.

Retractable Leashes

While retractable dog leashes offer lots of benefits, it’s probably best to avoid using one for jogging with your fido. Not only do they have the same problem with conventional leashes, but they can easily wrap around your dog’s legs, and the cord can snap back and injure you at the other end. Also, because you are at an increased pace, the risk of harm will be higher.

So, the answer? It depends! If you have a well-behaved dog, go for a hands-free lead. Otherwise, use a traditional leash. And we don’t recommend using a retractable leash for running with your four-footed friend.

Best Hands Free Dog Leash - Canicross Exercise
Caption: Hands Free Dog Leash is an Excellent Choice for Running and Canicross

Hands Free Dog Leash Buyer’s Guide: Important Features to Look For

When it comes to buying a hands-free running leash, there are a few things you need to consider. Here are some of them.

1. How Long is the Leash?

First, you have to check how long the lead is, and depending on the type of activity you plan to engage in, you would want to pick the right length. For instance, long leashes like the Ruffwear Roamer Dog Leash are more suitable for activities like biking and skiing as leashes that are too short may cause you and your dog to collide with each other. For running, leashes between four feet (48 inches) and six feet (72 inches) is a good length.

2. Can the Leash Absorbs Shocks?

Then you would want to see if the lead contains a bungee cord to protect you, and most hands-free leashes have varying amounts of bungee. So you have to think how much your dog lunges, then decide how much bungee to give your dog so that you can reign them in when needed. Also, if you have a large dog, you may be better off picking leashes with more bungee.

3. Is the Belt Adjustable?

And you would, of course, want an adjustable belt. That way, you can ensure it fits perfectly on your body. One thing to keep in mind, though, not all leashes come with a waist belt. Some include a belt you have to wear over your shoulder like the Kurgo Hands Free Crossbody Dog Walking Belt & Leash.

4. Is the Hands-Free Leash Durable?

Nobody wants a bungee leash that will lose its elasticity, fray, or snap only after a few uses. So look for something made of high-quality, weather-proof, or wear-resistant nylon such as the Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash, Mighty Paw Hands Free Dog Leash, and Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash with Pouch. Or leashes like the Iron Doggy Runner’s Choice Hands-Free Dog Leash that has a minimum of 215 pounds breaking strength is also a great option.

5. Does the Leash Have Reflective Stitching?

It’s always a better idea to pick those that have reflective stitching throughout the lead or belt. Otherwise, pick something bright in color to ensure motorists can easily see both you and your dog when running on or near roads, especially at night.

6. How Versatile is the Hands-Free Dog Leash?

Many hands-free leashes only work when attached to the included belt, but you can also find some that allow you to use them in many different ways. For instance, the Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash also works as a conventional leash, and you can convert it back to a hands-free leash when you need to go for a run.

7. Are There Any Gripping Points on the Leash?

Also, check to see if the leash comes with hold-knots or traffic handles. The ones that have handles will make it easier for you to control or hold your dog close to you on the trail or when coming up to a cross street.

8. Does the Running Leash Have Accessory Pockets?

You usually need to bring along your keys, wallet, or maybe your dog’s treats when going for a jog. Also, you will have to bring your phone with you if you need to listen to music. So it’s a good idea to consider hands-free leashes that have accessory pockets like the Paw Lifestyles Retractable Hands Free Dog Leash with Pouch unless you plan to attach the leash to a doggie’s pack that allows you to store these small items.

Running with Multiple Dogs

So what if you plan to jog with two dogs or more? Many manufacturers create their hands-free leashes with that in mind too. For instance, the Iron Doggy Runner’s Choice Hands-Free Dog Leash allows you to add an extra leash to run with two dogs. However, there’s a chance that two leashes may get tangled together, or you might get pulled in two different directions by your two running partners.

So, how do you prevent this from happening?

You can use a coupler instead. It is a leash attachment split into two separate shorter leashes with clips to attach to two harnesses. Some of the most reliable and popular options include the Ruffwear Double Track Coupler, EzyDog Leash Zero Shock Coupler, and Kurgo Double Dog Leash.

Read More: 5 Tips for Running with Two Dogs

Running with your Dog vs. Canicross (Running Cross Country)

If you love running with your dog, the chances are that you will also like canicross. So what exactly is canicross? Canicross is “canine + cross country” and is essentially an extreme version of running with your pup. It is also a way of how sled dog trainers keep their dogs in shape during the mushing off-season, and this activity has become more and more popular over the years.

This sport will require your dog to pull, and lots of people love it because your feet will barely touch the ground, and you will feel like you are flying. One thing to note, though, if you are interested and thinking about doing canicross, you can’t use harnesses designed for running as they are not shaped correctly and will interfere with your dog’s ability to breathe and cause discomfort. So, what’s the right harness for canicross? Find out here!

Dog Running Leash FAQ

Are hands-free dog leashes safe?

Yes, hands-free dog leashes are safe as they typically contain shock-absorbing bungee to protect you when your dog pulls. That said, if your dog is a strong puller and is not properly leash trained, you would want to avoid using one to prevent your canine from causing you to topple over.

Are hands-free leashes a perfect option for running?

No. Although hands-free running leads offer lots of benefits and are a preferable option for jogging with dogs, they are not the best, and no leashes are best for running if you still wonder if there’s one. This type of leash has so much slack that your dog gets no sensation when it gets tighter as they move forward or away, which will cause them to develop bad running habits. So it’s best to avoid using one if your pup still needs to learn good running manners.