On yesterday morning's walk my fox-colored dog, Betsy, suddenly became free of the leash.
Luckily I managed to capture her before she went too far. (My fear is that she will wander onto a nearby farm and get shot, being mistaken for a fox. Everyone around here owns a rifle and you hear gunfire often.)
Back in the house, I examined the leash to figure out what happened.
The snap hook failed. Not the bolt-spring mechanism, but the eyelet that captures the thicker part of the stem and allows the snap hook to rotate.
The eyelet appears too worn to capture the stem any longer.
The stem appears only slightly worn, but is just a tad out of round.
I then purchased a new snap hook at the local farm supply place, intending to either sew up a new leash, or unstitch the old leash, insert the snap hook, and sew it back together. These are time-consuming tasks but do-able.
My wife suggested simplifying the task with a carabiner. One potential problem is that since the carabiner has no rotating mechanism, the leash would twist. This is problematic since I walk two dogs at once.
But the carabiner was perfect for simply attaching the new snap hook to the old leash. It's a little heavier on the dog's neck, but seems to work fine and allows rotation.
In any case, this is the first time I'd ever seen a snap hook fail in this fashion. I can't tell if this is normal/acceptable wear from use (I've owned this leash for about ten years), or if the cold had something to do with it; the past few mornings it's been about 10F degrees (-12C).
Either way I'll likely replace the snap hook on the other leash, or build in some kind of redundancy, just in case.
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I have had a snap hook fail on me once in exactly the same way.
It was attached to the shoulder strap of a rather big bag that I used to carry heavy school books in. One day when quickly grabbing my bag and yanking it to me, the bag fell to the floor as the snap hook separated.
I believe it is a fault lies in the construction of these. They often repeatedly take quite a load (heavy cargo, pulling dogs, etc) and since they should be able to rotate freely there is a bit of slack which also gives it room to move and abrasion occurs. When the material isn't the best metal, these three factors could wear the head or eyelet down. A bigger head on the stem, more snug fit between the stem and the eyelet and better metal would lower the chance of failure, but few want to pay extra for it.
On the bright side, we both had exactly one such failure in our lives so it doesn't seem to be a wide spread phenomenon. In my case I just put a split keyring between the eyelet and the D-ring of the bag. It worked for me even if only one end of the strap could rotate and I never removed the strap from the bag anyway. Also, the bag was starting to wear and eventually I replaced it.
I would recommend using a locking carabiner to prevent the carabiner from becoming a weak point for failure
We use a prong collar for walking, but it is known to occasionally pop open when yanked, so we got a backup that attaches to the regular dog collar.
So the leash itself attaches to this ring on this device, which then splits out two short leads, of slightly different lengths. The shorter one clips onto the prong collar ring and the slightly longer one, for backup, clips onto the regular collar.
(I looked for a photo online but with no luck so I'm just describing it)