Have you ever tried a multi-function dog leash?
If not, you should! They’re complete game-changers for many owners.
Below, we’ll explain some of the things that make these leashes so appealing and break down the different ways in which these leashes can be used.
We’ll also share our thoughts about six of the best-selling models on the market, which I tested with my very own pooches.
In a hurry? Jump right down to our product reviews!
What Is a Multi-Function Dog Leash?
In a nutshell, a multi-function leash is simply a dog leash that you can configure in a variety of ways.
To better understand what multi-function dog leashes are, let’s compare them to typical dog leashes.
With a normal, 6-foot leash, you hold on to the handle and clip the other end to your dog’s harness or collar.
Standard dog leashes only function in this way.
But instead of featuring a built-in handle like traditional leashes do, multi-function leashes have clips at each end, as well as two or more anchor points along the length of the leash.
And this means that multi-function leashes can be configured in different ways to suit different purposes.
The Different Ways to Use a Multi-Function Dog Leash
Though the specifics vary a bit, most multi-function dog leashes can be used in all of the ways discussed below.
To change the function of your leash, you’ll just attach the handle-end clasp to one of several different places.
Traditional Leash Configuration
You’ll likely use your multi-function leash like a traditional leash most of the time.
To set up the leash in this manner, you’ll connect the handle-side clasp to an anchor point about 12 to 18 inches away. You’ll use the loop created as a handle.
Shortened Leash Configuration
You can also use most multi-function leashes in a shortened configuration. To set up the leash in this manner, you simply connect the handle-side clasp to an anchor point about halfway down the leash. You can then just hold on to the end of the (relatively large) loop created.
This kind of configuration is great during training sessions or when walking your dog through crowded areas.
Two-Dog Leash Configuration
You can also use a multi-function leash to walk two dogs at the same time.
To set up the leash this way, you’ll just connect each clasp to the collar or harness of each dog. You’ll then hold the opposite end (actually, the middle of the leash).
Over-the-Shoulder Leash Configuration
Sometimes called “courier style,” this type of configuration requires you to connect the handle-side clasp to an anchor point about halfway down the leash. You can then throw the loop over your body diagonally and walk your dog in hands-free fashion.
Around-the-Waist Leash Configuration
Many multi-function leashes can also be worn around your waist (the one I’m using in the photo above doesn’t work very well in this manner, but others do).
To set it up this way, you’ll attach the handle-side clasp to an anchor point about halfway down the leash to achieve an around-the-waist configuration. You’ll then slide the created loop down your body and let it ride on your hips.
Some multi-function leashes consider the around-the-waist function and the over-the-shoulder function to be the same. However, most owners will find that around-the-waist use requires a slightly smaller loop than is necessary for over-the-shoulder wear.
Two-Point Control Leash Configuration
One of the niftiest ways to use a multi-function leash is called a dual- or two-point configuration. This configuration gives you two points of control, which makes it easier to address problems like pulling and lunging. It’d also be great for walking dogs with a strong prey drive.
To use the leash this way, you’ll set it up in the same way you’d configure it to walk two dogs at the same time. The only difference is that you connect one of the clasps to the back of your dog’s harness, and you connect the other clasp to the front hook on your dog’s harness.
Perhaps the most convenient way to us a multi-function leash is for tethering your dog to something.
To use the leash in this manner, you’ll simply set it up the same way you would when using the leash in traditional mode. However, in stead of wrapping the loop around your hand, you’ll place it around or through a convenient anchor point, such as a park bench, post, or gate handle, as I’ve done above.
Note that by connecting the clasp to different points on the leash, you can alter the length of the tether.
6 Multi-Function Dog Leashes: Our Hands-On Review
Now that you know what multi-function dog leashes are and how they work, we can move on to some specific models.
Just be sure to keep your specific needs and circumstances in mind when making your choice. This is critical for obtaining one that makes your life easier instead of harder.
1. Kurgo 6 in 1 Hands Free Dog Leash
About: The Kurgo 6 in 1 Hands Free Dog Leash is a feature-packed multi-function leash that provides the kind of quality and reliability owners have come to expect from Kurgo. This “ladder-style” leash features more connection points that any of the others we examined, which also means that it will work in more situations – and fit more dog-owner teams — than any of the others.
Throw in reflective trim, a custom-made carabiner, and a padded handle and it’s easy to see why this is our favorite multi-function leash on the market right now.
- 84” long by 1” wide
- Available in 6 snazzy color combos
- Functional lengths vary from 36” to 72”
- “Floating” handle padding works anywhere along the leash
- Handle padding can be completely removed if you like
- Provides 26 different carabiner connection points
- Carabiner features a bottle opener (weird, but OK)
- The ladder-style design provides additional flexibility
- More comfortable to use than most other multi-function leashes
- It feels like one of the strongest leashes of the bunch
- The handle padding makes the leash pretty comfortable to use
- It’s slightly shorter than some of the other options
- The carabiner gate is relatively thin
- We wish the carabiner locked
2. Hundefreund Multifunctional Dog Leash
About: The Hundenfreund Multifunctional Dog Leash is a little different than many of the other leashes we examined. For starters, it’s a lot longer than most other options, as it measures 10 feet long. Also, unlike many of the other high-quality multi-function leashes on the market that feature reflective trim or stitching, one side is blaze orange, and it has reflective strips on both sides.
This leash comes with two rock-solid connectors and three heavy-duty D-rings, so you can use it in your choice of six different configurations.
- 10’ long
- Available in one color: blaze orange
- Metal hardware is rustproof
- 360-degree swivels help prevent tangles
- Leash material is tear-resistant
- It’s super bright and easy to see
- The additional length is beneficial in some circumstances
- The material feels pretty comfortable to the hand
- The hardware (and overall leash) feels strong and durable
- The extra length can make the leash a bit unwieldy
- The hand loop is larger than most owners will find ideal
- Additional rings would be appreciated and provide more flexibility
3. 4GUYS Total Control Multi-Function Dog Leash
About: In most respects, the 4GUYS Total Control Multi-Function Dog Leash is like other multi-function dog leashes, but there is at least one key difference: It offers one more use than most other multi-function leashes. Like most others, you can use it in the six or seven typical ways (depending on how you break down the different uses), but it also comes with a built-in “traffic handle,” which gives you better control when need be.
This leash only comes with two D-rings (most others come with three), but you can slide one of them up and down the length of the leash, which is a nice touch. You can also adjust the traffic handle as necessary.
- Available in one color: black
- Measures 90” long by 1” wide
- Features reflective stitching
- Metal clips with matte gunmetal plating
- Includes a traffic handle
- The adjustable D-ring provides extra flexibility
- Some owners will love the included traffic handle
- The metal clips are pretty heavy-duty
- It’s an overall solid option in a category full of low-quality alternatives
- The traffic handle may get in the way or annoy some owners
- It may be a bit heavy for small dogs
- We wish it were available in multiple colors
4. AaufiLux Multi-Function Dog Leash
About: The AaufiLux Multi-Function Dog Leash is the only rope-style multi-function leash we examined, and it offered quite a different user experience than the others. Rope is a perfectly acceptable leash material, but unlike many other rope leashes, this particular model stretches quite a bit. This stretchability may be a nice bonus for some owners, but it may make others nervous.
Feature wise, this leash is pretty similar to other multi-function leashes with fixed D-ring connectors. It does lack reflective stitching, but it comes with neat little leather covers, which look nice and likely provide additional strength to the connection points.
- Made of ½” nylon rope
- Comes with three heavy-duty metal D-rings
- Leather stitching covers included
- Available in one color: black
- Clasps rotate 360 degrees to prevent tangles
- A good multi-function leash for owners who prefer rope
- Some owners will appreciate that it stretches
- The leather tabs look pretty good
- Some owners won’t like the fact that it stretches
- There’s no way to adjust the position of the D-rings
- No reflective stitching or trim is included
5. Guiding Star Multi-Function Leather Dog Leash
About: The Guiding Star Multi-Function Dog Leash is largely similar to other multi-function leashes, except that it is made from leather. Leather is a pretty durable material, and it is also quite comfortable in the hand, which is likely part of the reason this is such a popular option.
One key difference between this multi-function leash and most others is that it comes with two fixed-location D-rings, but the third ring “floats” up and down the length of the leash. This provides a little more flexibility in terms of size, when you’re wearing it around your waist or over your shoulder.
- 96” long by ½” wide
- Made from genuine leather
- Brass hardware
- Features 2 fixed D-rings and 1 floating D-ring
- Backed by a 1-year quality warranty; 60-day unconditional return warranty
- Very comfortable for your hands
- It’s an attractive leash
- The floating D-ring can provide a better over-the-shoulder or around-the-waist fit
- The included warranty is a nice bonus
- It stretches a bit and just feels weak
- No reflective stitching or trim is included
- It’ll likely absorb moisture and odors
6. LWBMG Leather Multi-Function Dog Leash
About: The LWBMG Leather Multi-Function Dog Leash is pretty similar to the Guiding Star leash discussed above, except that it only comes in one color: brown. It also features brass hardware, including two relatively heavy-duty clasps and three D-rings (two of which are fixed, while one slides up and down the length of the leash).
The stitching of the LWBMG leash isn’t quite as robust as that of the Guiding Star leash, but the difference is pretty minimal. No reflective stitching or trim is included in this leash.
- 96” in length by ½” wide
- Brass hardware
- Features 2 fixed D-rings and 1 floating D-ring
- Constructed of genuine leather
- Leather leashes are comfortable for owners
- Floating D-rings provide a better over-the-shoulder or around-the-waist fit
- It looks pretty nice
- The hardware all feels strong and durable
- It just doesn’t feel strong enough for large dogs
- No reflective stitching included
- It may absorb odors over time
One Multi-Function Leash We Wouldn’t Recommend
I purchased my first multi-function leash in June of 2018.
Called the Cafford Multi-Function Leash, it had everything I wanted, including a ladder-style design, two carabiner-style clips (including one that had a locking gate), and a padded handle.
To this day, it is still my favorite leash I’ve ever used.
But after 2 1/2 years of intense use, it had frayed past the point at which I was comfortable using it.
When I went to order a replacement, I found that the Cafford leash was no longer available.
So, I bought the Dogs My Love 1” Multi-Function Leash in December of 2021 to replace it. It didn’t have everything I wanted, but it was the best one I could find.
The Dogs My Love leash pretty much got the job done and worked well enough for about 7 months.
And then it failed in spectacular, heart-stopping fashion.
One July night, my now-fiancée and I were going through the initial steps of introducing our reactive dogs to each other. These gals do not like each other.
The gals for your viewing pleasure:
As part of the introductory process, we’d tethered them both to a split-rail fence, about 10 feet away from each other.
In addition to allowing them to hang out in close (but safe) proximity to each other, this setup gave us the chance to provide them plenty of positive reinforcement in an effort to desensitize them to each other.
Basically, whenever they’d look at each other without freaking out, they’d get some delicious cooked chicken.
We’d done this a few different occasions, but one night, our Rottie lunged at our Pyr and snapped the leash in two.
A pretty gnarly fight ensued, but both gals escaped without serious injury (and I managed to keep all of my fingers and toes while separating them).
Nevertheless, it could have been much worse.
Not only could they have injured each other, but this could have been truly tragic if it had occurred in an area near traffic or some other danger.
Prior to this, the leash hadn’t shown any signs of fraying or weakness. To the contrary, it still looked more-or-less brand new.
Now, we don’t like to call out manufacturers, but this defect could have had truly tragic results. Accordingly, we’d strongly encourage pet parents to look elsewhere for a multi-function leash.
One last thing: While our Rottie is certainly a strong gal (we lovingly call her the “Brute Squad”), she’s only about 85 pounds. If she were able to break this leash, a 150-pound mastiff or Great Dane would snap it even more easily.
Why Use a Multi-Function Dog Leash? When When Do They Make Sense?
Multi-function leashes are pretty handy devices, and some owners use them all the time (I certainly do). But there are some situations in which they offer more value than others.
Some of the most notable situations in which multi-function leashes make sense include:
- People who like to run, walk, or jog with a dog: Most people who run, walk, or jog with a dog will want their hands free so they can pump their arms. A multi-function leash makes this easy. Also, unlike leashes specifically designed for running, multi-function leashes can be used like typical leashes once you’re finished running.
- Owners who frequently bring their dog while running errands: Does your dog like to tag along while you hit the store and drop off the dry cleaning? A multi-function leash is ideal for these kinds of situations, as you can switch up the leash configuration to suit a variety of different scenarios.
- People who embrace the management side of the training-management dichotomy: There are two basic ways to deal with problematic dog behaviors (though most owners mix-and-match a bit). On the one hand, you can try to train your dog in a way that’ll help him stop exhibiting the problematic behaviors, but on the other, you can just implement management strategies to alleviate the problem entirely. Those who fall into the latter camp will find multi-function leashes invaluable. For example, multi-function leashes make it easy to momentarily tether your dog to a tree if you need to separate her from passing runners or other dogs.
- Those who own more than one dog: Want to walk two dogs with only a single leash? Yes, please! The only downside to using a multi-function leash in this way is that it’ll take up a lot of slack, meaning that you’ll essentially be using two very short leashes.
- Owners of dogs who’re difficult to control during walks: One of the neatest things about multi-function leashes is that you can use them to provide two points of control on your dog. This makes it much easier to halt sudden lunges and control dogs who try to pull you around the park.
- Anyone who takes really long walks or hikes with a dog: Going for a 5-milke hike with your hound? Chances are, you’ll find it necessary to hook her up to a tree once or twice during your journey so you can enjoy a snack or answer nature’s call. Multi-function leashes make this quick and easy to do.
- Some kinds of dog-care professionals: If you spend your days managing lots of dogs or taking dogs to unusual places, you’ll likely find the convenience a multi-function leash provides to be invaluable. You can use a single leash to tether a dog to a bench, switch to a hands-free configuration when you need to pick up some poop, or hook the leash to two spots on the dog’s harness as is necessary.
What about the opposite side of the coin? Are there situations in which a multi-function leash is not helpful or ideal?
Some of the most noteworthy examples include:
- Owners of multiple dogs who don’t get along: Walking two dogs who don’t get along is difficult when using two different leashes – using a single leash while trying to control them both is simply a disaster in the making.
- People who like to bike with their dog: Despite offering hands-free functionality, multi-function leashes are not a great choice for bikers, as they don’t have any elasticity (or at least, not very much). This can lead to spills if your dog suddenly darts off in an unexpected direction. Just opt for a purpose-built biking dog leash instead.
- Some kinds of professional dog handlers: Multi-function leashes may be prohibited in some situations, such as dog shows or other competitive events. Similarly, some trainers and behaviorists will prefer to use standard leashes, to get dogs and their people used to using typical equipment.
- Owners who prefer to “set-it-and-forget-it”: Multi-function leashes require a bit of futzing, as you’ll need to clip and unclip them in various places, depending on your current needs. If you’d prefer to avoid having to do or think about these kinds of issue, then you may want to opt for a traditional 6-foot leash.
- Owners of very small dogs: Because they feature multiple clasps and (often) heavy D-rings, multi-function dog leashes can be a bit too heavy for pint-sized pups. That said, extra light models (such as either of the leather leashes discussed above) may still work.
Multi-Function Leash Buying Considerations: What Do You Look for When Buying a 6-in-1 Leash
There are a couple of dozen multi-function leashes on the market, but only a handful really deserve serious consideration. Some of the things you’ll want to consider when trying to pick the best one for you and your dog include:
- Overall length: The majority of multi-function leashes are about 6 feet in length when set up in a “long leash” configuration. However, there are a few that are longer or shorter than this. Longer leashes can be helpful for giving your dog more freedom, but they also saddle the owner with more leash to manage.
- High-quality hardware components: It’s always important to stick to leashes featuring high-quality clips, clasps, and carabiners, but because you’ll need to clip and unclip multi-function leashes far more frequently, it is especially important to look for sturdy hardware.
- Included handle padding: Some multi-function leashes feature a removable padded strap, which provides padding to the handle area of the leash. Typically held in place by Velcro, these padded straps needn’t be considered mandatory (some owners even remove them for simplicity’s sake), but they can make multi-function leashes more comfortable to use.
- Reflective stitching or trim: Reflective stitching or trim should probably be standard on all leashes, as it’s a very high-upside, low-downside feature manufacturers can include. And while there are other ways you can keep your pet visible during low-light walks (such as LED collars), buying a leash with some kind of high-visibility feature will just make your life easier (and keep you and your pooch safer).
- Ladder-style vs D-ring attachments: Many owners find multi-function leashes with fixed D-ring connection points suit their needs perfectly well, but others prefer the flexibility ladder-style leashes provide. You’re free to use whichever style you prefer, but you won’t be able to adjust the size of the body loop or hand loop created by the leash with a D-ring style leash. This is likely most important for owners who have an extreme body size.
Multi-function leashes provide a ton of convenience for owners, and they make it much easier to manage your doggo while you’re out and about. They aren’t ideal for all situations, but they should probably be more popular than they currently are.
We’d encourage you to give multi-function leashes a try!
You may be surprised just how handy it is to be able to clip your dog to a park bench for a few minutes or use a leash in hands-free fashion when you’re carrying groceries.
Do you already use a multi-function leash? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Let us know which brand and model you use, as well as your favorite and least favorite things about it.