Some people love them, and some people hate them. What – snakes, spiders, Brussel sprouts? No, this is a dog training blog, so I’m talking about a retractable leash! They’re used by many dog owners to give their dogs more freedom to explore during their walk. I used one for a short time. Do I personally recommend them? No.
Let’s look at the benefits first. As previously stated, they can give your dog more freedom to explore during his walk. He can run ahead to sniff, explore off trail a little bit, get a quick leg lift in, and be off again. If he gets behind, that’s ok, he can catch back up. Retractable leases come with a locking mechanism that allows the owner to lock the leash shorter in heavy traffic areas, dangerous situations, or simply when there are too many distractions. What’s not to love?!
Sadly, there’s a lot not to love when it comes to retractable leashes. A lot of people and dogs have been injured due to a retractable leash. These leashes are often made of a thin cord. When left to his own accord, your dog has a lot of freedom on one of these leashes – as much as 26 feet in any direction. This makes it easy for the dog to pick up speed running by you. Scrapes, cut, and falls have resulted. The human can get tangled in the leash, the dog can get his own legs tangled in the leash and both can get hurt in the resulting fall. Both human and an animal can also experience jarring pulls when your dog, at full speed, reaches the end of his leash. That thin leash has also been known to snap if the force is high enough.
If the risk of injury to you and your animal isn’t enough, a retractable leash can also malfunction. My personal experience with retractable leashes is that malfunctions are all too common. Any kind of dirt or debris on the leash will get into the mechanism. At this point, the leash will either not extend properly or not retract properly. In my case, the leash quite retracting. The other common malfunction is the leash lock releasing unexpectedly. (Yes, this happened to me too). This is extremely dangerous for both humans and animals! Imagine being in a high traffic area and your dog darting into traffic. You have no control at all if that lock malfunctions. Maybe you have an over-exuberant dog that wants to jump on everyone. Maybe the neighbor’s dog wants to fight with yours. In any one of a hundred different scenarios, if that leash malfunctions – and it will – both you, your dog and bystanders, can be injured.
You can probably guess what my conclusion is! Retractable leashes can be used in limited circumstances to increase the enjoyment of a walk for your dog. They should not, however, be your go-to leash. Nor should they ever be used when you and your dog will be walking in populated areas. Your dog will enjoy his walk just and much and everyone will be safer if you use a standard leash.