Leash tension forces exerted by dog and handler during walks affect their welfare. We developed a novel ambulatory measurement device using a load cell and a tri-axial accelerometer to record both the tension and direction of forces exerted on the leashes. Data were relayed telemetrically to a laptop for real time viewing and recording. Larger and heavier dogs exerted higher leash tension but had a lower pulling frequency than their smaller and lighter conspecifics. This pattern was observed in the reactional forces of handlers. Young dogs pulled more frequently during walks, which was also mirrored in handlers' pulling. Well-behaved dogs created lower leash tension, but handlers did not respond with lower forces. This novel method of recording leash tension will facilitate real-time monitoring of the behaviour of dogs and their handlers during walks.
Keywords: dog; human–dog interaction; leash; shelter; tension.