Why wagNwalkies say.. Please DO NOT use retractable leads
► First of all, “lead” is probably not a good word to describe the thin cord used in many retractable devices. Secondly, the real purpose of using a leash to walk a dog is to keep the animal safe and under the owner’s control. Retractable leashes often do the opposite.
► There are many reasons to avoid or reconsider use of a retractable lead, starting with the fact that on this type of lead, your dog can get far enough away from you to either get into trouble or into harm’s way.
► Retractable leads are also responsible for many injuries to both dogs and dog walkers – from superficial burns and cuts to horrific amputations.
► In most cases, these devices are also wholly counterproductive to training a dog to walk politely on lead. The very nature of retractables trains dogs to pull on the lead to extend the lead. Needless to say, this pulling behavior will be repeated whenever the dog is on a standard lead.
A retractable lead is not so much a lead as it is a length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. The handles of most retractable leads are designed to fit comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls how much of the cord is extended.
Retractable leads are popular primarily because they aren’t as confining as regular leads, allowing dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks. But unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of lead.
10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Lead
- The length of retractable leads, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable lead is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.
- In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat lead than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
- The thin cord of a retractable lead can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.
- If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable lead, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the lead and keeps going. This can result in bruises, “road rash,” broken bones, and worse.
- Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the lead, including neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
- Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable lead handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.
- The handles of retractable leads are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
- Retractable leads allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to “fight back.”
- Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.
- Retractable leads are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven’t been trained to walk politely on a regular lead. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.