Making leads, collars and other accessories to use on special outings with your favorite canine companion is not difficult if you start with a good plan and the right materials. Making your own lead -- also known as a leash -- allows you to create that perfect accessory for training sessions or for just strolling through your neighborhood in style.
Leather leads can be strong leads -- the thicker the leather the stronger they are in controlling a resistant dog. Leather leads can be works of art. Leather leads are sleek and smooth on your hands, and they're versatile. Leather for making a lead is available in various thicknesses and grades. Full-grain leather is top-of-the-line leather. Genuine leather and bonded leather are lower quality leather. Any can be used in making leads. Local craft stores are the best source for leather -- leather specialty stores not only sell the product but can answer questions you might have. Working with leather requires purchasing some supplies, such as sewing materials and saddle soap. Most household sewing machines are not built to handle leather, so check the manufacturer's recommendations. Other options include hand-sewing or a trip to the shoemaker, who has special equipment to stitch through this beautiful but difficult material.
Nylon and Rope Leads
Nylon and rope leads are preferred by many people because they are strong and washable. However, these leads can be uncomfortable for the dog walker if the dog has a tendency to pull. Nylon and rope leads can burn the hands, especially with dogs who get excited or need further training. You can find a variety of leash-worthy nylon materials at your local fabric or craft store in a variety of widths and colors. You can purchase a rope at a hardware store. You'll need heavy-duty needles and thread; most sewing machines can accommodate nylon for leashes.
Cloth leads are fun to make, and with so many fabrics available, you can design them to meet your every whim. Head to your local fabric store and browse through the quilting section. You will discover beautiful patterns -- from nature scenes to cartoon characters, sports themes and holiday motifs. For each pattern you select to make into a lead, purchase about a quarter-yard of fabric. You will also need material to line your leash. Consider nylon belt materials or horsehair strips in the accessories aisle. You can even purchase a ready-made nylon leash to cover with your favorite fabric. Consider the weight and behavior of your dog when choosing lining. Large or active dogs need stronger leads, while small dogs usually will suffice with lightweight leads. Use heavy-duty thread on this project, and weatherproofing spray to preserve your work.
Your design will need a device to attach the lead to the dog's collar. Purchase a flat eye swivel snap in accordance with your dog's size. A medium-size dog needs a 1-inch snap. You can make your lead adjustable in length by adding D-rings and clasps to the design. You can purchase these at hardware stores and craft stores. Making the leads is fun, and it allows you to customize your leads to the exact length, width and color that you want. Consider making leads as gifts or as a group project for a scout group or dog club.
Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.