Leashes Can Kill

June 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm 3 comments

No – I’m not talking about ham-handed handlers stringing dogs up and choking them to death.  This post is a cautionary tale about how unskilled pet owners with improperly trained dogs unknowingly risk their lives every day.

Hat tip to Donald McCaig for sending the story that inspired post along.

 KTVU San Francisco reports:

A woman was struck and killed by a Capital Corridor train in Hayward when the dog she was walking dragged her onto the tracks and into the path of the oncoming locomotive, according to authorities.


“The crossing guards were down. The gentleman was able to make it through,” Nelson explained. “She tried to stop, realizing she probably couldn’t make it and the dog dragged itself and her into the train.”

Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train No. 535, bound for San Jose, was likely traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour when it struck and instantly killed both the woman and the dog, a pit bull.

Nelson said the woman, in her early-to-mid 30s, was unable to simply let the dog go because of how she had the leash wrapped around her hand.  

Two very sad – and completely unnecessary deaths.

Look people, I don’t care what kind of collar, halter or harness you use on your dog, it can’t work properly unless you get the right kind of training to operate it.  And an important part of that training includes learning the right way to hold a leash.  This is 0ne of the first things I show my clients. It seems like such a simple thing, some of them don’t pay enough attention, so for the first couple of weeks of class I frequently and patiently remind them until holding a leash correctly becomes second nature to them – because it’s that important.

Part of the reason I do this is because a leash, like any tool, works most efficiently when it is used correctly.  The other reason I do it is to protect my clients from unnecessary injury – or even death.

For the record, here is the correct way to hold a dog’s leash. The loop should be draped over your hand.  Slack should be taken up in folds held firmly in your palm with the end of the leash exiting downward from your hand: Do

This is the way that the person in the following news story was probably holding her leash.  Tightly wrapped in what I have – perhaps precognitively – called a ‘death grip’ around your hand.


If you’ve got a strong dog who still pulls like a freight train hasn’t yet learned the rules of the road, you should modify the proper grip shown at top to the two-handed ‘baseball bat’ grip shown below.  Note that both hands are touching and held firmly to the body at the waist/hip.

If your dog pulls hard enough that you need to use this grip, you should also consider further training.


Entry filed under: dog obedience, dog training, dogs, safety. Tags: .

In The Garden Right Before You’re Eaten

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. H. Houlahan  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Sailors and equestrians know about the death grip. You won’t see anyone using that suicide wrap around a stable a second time.

    It’s the flip side of the killer flexi-lead.

    Since dog training has been somehow redefined as something conceptual that happens in the human being’s head, instead of a physical skill that requires specific kinds of contact with the animal, the art of holding a leash has further degenerated. People who have been to many “obedience classes” have never been exposed to the correct postures.

  • 2. ana poe  |  June 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you! I also instruct a similar grip and so many folks just look at me like I’m crazy as I unroll the leash from around their hands. It’s as if “the wrap” is a testament to how strong/tough/cool your dog is.

    The worst is during BADRAP’s pit bull shots fairs where owners come with chain leashes wrapped like that. All I can envision is the snapping of hand bones as the dogs lunge toward each other *shudder* We swap them out for better leads and instruct “the baseball grip” as an alternative.

    Again, thank you!

  • 3. Barb  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Of course, the news media will pick up this story and title it
    “Pit Bull Kills Woman”….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


Copyright notice

All original content on this Web site is copyright © on the date of publication by this author. All rights reserved except, of course, that others may quote from original content under the 'Fair Use' provisions of US copyright law.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 284 other subscribers

RSS New Stuff in our Library

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Top Clicks

  • None
Top Dog Blog
Featured in Alltop


Add to Technorati Favorites
Dog Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
blogarama - the blog directory
Blog Directory
Blog Directory & Search engine
June 2009

%d bloggers like this: