Updated: Nov 11, 2019
I enjoy using a hands-free leash, or at least, having the option to go hands-free like when I’m working on location with my dog and I need my hands for other things like demonstrations, therapy dog engagements, or… shopping. These leashes are especially useful when working with therapy or service dogs, and I understand they are also used in police dog training. They are not readily available, however; can be hard to find (but they are out there, read on).
Caution! If your dog hasn’t yet learned to walk politely (without excessive pulling) on leash, then you’ll need to be extra careful about attaching any leash to your body or wrapping it around your body as the dog could suddenly take off and pull you down, hard. This is especially a caution for adults with lesser strength, balance and stability and/or those using the leash with a dog of greater size and strength. You may still use a hands-free leash, but please think twice about securing it to your body until you have accomplished the skill of reliable loose-leash control.
Some of these now come with a bungee-style leash, stretching to absorb shock on the line—this could potentially be helpful. HOWEVER, for the untrained dog, the stretch can be confusing in that it does not allow boundary (leash-limit) feedback, so the pulling can actually be reinforced and become even more of a problem for you. Work on loose-leash walking on a standard 6-foot fixed length leash, first.
You can make your own hands-free by wearing a regular belt that securely fastens, and then sliding the handle of the leash over the belt (thread the belt through the leash handle)—however, I wouldn't recommend that configuration because without a lot of fuss, there's really no way to quickly release the leash from your waistline; a potential disaster! You could fasten a carabiner (a metal loop with a spring-loaded clasp) to your belt and connect the leash to the carabiner; at least this would give you an opportunity to detach. I came across a couple of blogs online that shared instructions on how to make your own waist-line and cross-body hands-free leashes out of rope. Keep in mind—stuff happens so be prepared and safely configured for things to go awry, like, a squirrel running across Fido's path... SQUIRREL!
My personal favorite is the convertible trainer’s leash, a 7-foot belt with three attachment rings for versatility. Wear around your waist or across your body (over your shoulder), or use it like a standard hand-held leash. First photo is my leash rolled out so you can see the placement of the rings (thank you for being my model, Odin). Notice it has an attachment snap on each end of the belt. The next photos show you the two different ways that I use this leash. And there are other configurations.
Not so easy to find—try searching for “cross body" or "hands free leash.” I purchased mine about five years ago and I’ve yet to find a record of it and of course there are no identifying tags on the leash itself. <sigh> Online I did find one 'professional dog trainer' supplier that sells a nylon version and another vendor on Etsy that makes some kind of leather-synthetic waterproof version.
Looks to me like a new product opportunity for someone ;-)
Be safe. Woofs!