There are so many options for leashes out there these days. As you can imagine, we see the whole gamut, from nylong to leather to flexi-lead, or retractable leashes. Retractable leashes have become a very popular item, often out of convenience, for dog owners. At DogBoy’s Dog Ranch, we are not fans of the retractable leash, and we’re here to educate you as to why not. Here are just some of the common concerns when using a retractable leash and why we discourage their use:
- Leash burns. Retractable leashes, especially the thin string variety, can very easily cause leash burns. This could happen when your dog races past you with the retractable line zipped up across your bare skin or if you accidently grab the line in an attempt to slow or stop your dog.
- Entanglement or strangulation. Retractable leashes can get twisted around a dog’s neck or legs. Worse, if your dog panics and jerks the moment they get hog-tied, it could cause the leash to pull even tighter. The situation could quickly become life-threatening.
- Fatal accidents. There are times when our dogs dart away all of a sudden, and with a retractable leash on him, your dog has the option of darting even farther, faster. It is possible that your pup may spot a squirrel or anything interesting across the street, and suddenly take off after it. If you’re not alert enough, this abrupt behavior and an un-sturdy retractable leash could put him right on the road, in front of a speeding car.
- The leash drops. Because these leashes rarely have a wrist strap and are often heavy and bulky, dropping them is a regular occurrence. What’s worse, if you drop the handle, the lack of tension can send the heavy handle hurdling toward your dog. Not only could the heavy leash handle smack your dog, if your dog is spooked by the leash handle zipping toward him, he or she may bolt.
- The cord wraps around you. Retractable leashes have been known to twist around fingers or other body parts resulting in deep wounds, or worse, amputation.
- The collar breaks or comes off your dog. The moment this occurs, the leash could retract at top speed while the other end of the line whips around at the same full momentum leading to serious face, teeth, and eye injuries.
- A less-friendly dog. You might have the best-behaved dog in the world, but what about that other dog down the block? Retractable leashes allow your dog to approach other dogs uninvited, and that’s just downright inconsiderate. Other pet parents may not want their dogs to greet your dogs for a variety of reasons, including your own dog’s health and safety.
- They are the antithesis of helpful for training. Not only are retractable leashes very dangerous, they are counter-intuitive from a training standpoint. Many people find that pulling is a huge challenge and often invest in tools like choke or prong collars, harnesses or snout leaders to assist with leash walking. While choke and prong collars are not allowed at DogBoy’s, we encourage both front-facing harnesses and gentle leaders. What sense does it make, however, if a retractable leash is attached to either, or any, of these? It sends a very mixed message to your dog to have them wearing one item that discourages pulling, and attached to another that actually promotes it. The retractable leash, in itself, sends a mixed message by creating a situation where the dog will always either be the pull-e or the pulled. These leashes reward your dog’s pulling by giving them more space and freedom. When the dog stops pulling forward, the retractable leash, by nature, pulls back and in a sense, punishes them.
While one might choose to use a retractable leash for the ease it brings to their walks, the bad simply out ways the good. In the end, keeping your dog at a closer, more controlled distance is the safest and best option. If you would like help finding the best leash to walk your dog, or to stop her from pulling, we’re here for you. We offer complimentary fitting on all our leash and collar products. We also have a team of trainers who can help if you are having trouble walking your dog. Finally, we teach a wonderful Leash Walking & Recall class that is geared specifically towards leash walking issues.