Friends Don't Let Friends Use Retractable Leashes

When it comes to dog training, I’m pretty understanding that people have their own viewpoints that can differ from mine. But one thing I will never agree on is a pet owners use of a retractable leash. I have met a handful of trainers that use retractable leashes in fields when teaching recall, but unless you’re a professional it is time to step away from the retractable leashes.

What is a retractable leash?

A retractable leash is a spring loaded cord wrapped around a plastic handle. The owner is able to control how much cord comes out, but wrangling the dog back in isn’t as easy.

Dangers to Your Dog

  1. There is much less control of a dog at the end of a 30 foot leash than at the end of a six foot leash. No matter how hard you may try, it is much more likely for your dog to get hit by a car while using a retractable leash.

  2. Your dog may be super friendly and that’s great! Unfortunately, not all dogs are comfortable being greeted. You should always have full control of who your dog is going to see, whether that is a human or a dog. A retractable leash takes that power away from the handler and allows the dog to greet whomever they please.

  3. Lacerated tracheas and spinal cord injuries are often reported from veterinarians who see dogs injured from using retractable leashes. If a dog is running full force to see something or chase a squirrel, the abrupt stop puts too much pressure on your dog’s throat which can cause severe injury.

  4. If your dog gets the leash caught around their leg, the thin rope can cause lacerations and burns to your dogs legs.

  5. These leashes are breakable and unlike a standard nylon leash they can snap at the slightest amount of pressure and cause your dog to run loose.

  6. The clunky handle of a retractable leash will make a ton of noise when it hits the ground. If your dog is anxious and the leash accidentally falls out of your hand, the crashing sound of the leash hitting the ground can cause the dog to bolt. This is only worsened by the sound of handle dragging behind the dog.

Dangers to Owners and People Around You

  1. Rope burn is very common with the use of retractable leashes. What happens if your dog begins to run towards something you don’t want them to? Unfortunately the leashes don’t auto-recoil so you’ll be stuck pulling your dog towards you by the cord of the leash. OUCH!

  2. Lacerations to fingers, wrists and ankles are common when you get tangled in a retractable leash. If your dog bolts forward they can also catch someone else in the crossfire as well.

  3. The PRICE of these leashes are astronomical. If you’re looking for a cute leopard print handle, you’re looking to spend $70. Or you can risk your chances by buying a retractable leash from the dollar store, which is poorly constructed and much more likely to snap. Working at a pet store for five years I can certainly say that I’ve never had someone come in from a regular nylon leash snapping, but people coming in to replace their retractable leashes was super common.

Training Drawbacks

  1. Your dog will not understand the concept of a leash because they will quickly realize that if they pull hard enough they will be allowed more leash to run around. Dogs are very smart and know that when you only allow 6 ft or rope to come out that you have much more to offer them. Even using a retractable leash sometimes can cause your dog to pull more when on a standard leash.

  2. When your dog is 30-50ft ahead of you, you have little to no control over your dog. No matter how loud you yell, your dog may not hear you and it will be much harder for them to read your signals from so far away. Having a dog on a six foot leash allows you to interact with your dog, making your walk much safer.

What To Use Instead

A regular six-foot nylon leash - it’s as simple as that! If you want more control over your dog, there are double handled leashes which offer more control. If you want your dog to be able to roam around more, try an outdoor rink this summer to allow your dog to run off leash or an off-leash dog park. There are tons of alternative and safer options out there to provide your dog with the stimulation they need!