Friday, May 16, 2014

Product Review: Mt. Tam Hands-Free Dog Leash by OllyDog

Bandit and me finishing up a run
Do you run with your dog? Have you tried a waist leash? If not, this is a product that you will not want to miss. I have been running with my dogs for over 10 years, and this is by far the best hands-free leash I have found. I do have two other hands-free leashes that I had been using for years, but when I got Bandit, I wanted him to have a new one of his own.  Now those older ones just hang on their hooks. The Mt. Tam has several unique features that make it work particularly well for smooth running and which have made it Bandit's and my favorite. Let’s talk about what makes it different from other running leashes I have had.

The first thing that you notice about the leash is the elastic bungee section. 
This is one of the best features, particularly if your dog tends to pull. Initially I did not think that this would be a big deal. I mean if a dog pulls, wouldn’t he or she just pull to the end of the bungee. However, this was not the case, at least not with my puller, Rio. For some reason he seems content to stay within the range of the bungee, and when he pulls to the end, tends to come back in.
The bungee definitely helps with a smoother running experience. It allows the dog to move around a bit on the end of the leash without it jerking like a traditional leash would. When I am running with Bandit, he is a little skittish sometimes about things off on the side of the road. This gives him a little leeway without jerking on my waist every time he moves. The bungee also gives him a little extra distance when he wants it but without having extra leash in to be a potential tripping hazard when he comes back close.

Another great feature of the leash is the handle down by the collar. This is great for when I need to pull Bandit close, either when other people are passing, when I get into a heavy traffic area or at a road crossing, or if another dog is approaching. 

This really helps give a better sense of control. On the leash, as I wear it, there is also another handy loop for my hand about halfway down the leash. I use this one occasionally when cars are passing, just to be sure he is not ranging too far out, or when people are approaching and I want them to see that he is under control without having to change my stride.

The leash is also well constructed. The band itself is only about an inch wide (as compared to about an inch and a half on my other waist leash). This is not really a drawback for me. It feels light around my waist. The adjustment buckles are plastic, and they work very well to easily adjust the length. They do seem durable, but I have to admit that I am on my second version of the leash. I left the leash attached to Bandit one day on the car ride home. He chewed through the waist buckle.(BAD DOG!!!) I think in regular use, and kept out of chewing range, the buckle would be durable. The clip that attaches to the leash is metal, and it works well. The stitching is heavy duty. The handle part down by the collar has a reflective strip to help make us more visible. The length adjusts from 5 to 8 feet, depending on the width of your waist.

The leash is available in a version with a running belt with pouch (for carrying pick-up bags and other essentials). 

I did not get that option because I already had a clip on pouch for that which I have clipped to one of the metal connectors on the leash. It is working well for me now (although I can see how having a pouch to put the full bags in until I find a trash can would beat running with a bag of poop clutched in one hand…). The running belt is also slightly wider, with a spot for the leash to clip on. This would add a little more distance to the leash, which could be a good or bad thing depending. I think the distance on the leash as it is now is perfect. I don’t think I would want it to be any longer, but perhaps if I had a larger dog this might be an advantage. 

If you are thinking about running with your dog, I do think this is an essential piece of equipment. If you run with your dog and have never tried a waist leash, do not wait! You will not regret it!