It’s not uncommon to see people walking their dogs on retractable leashes. The idea is that it gives the dog a little more freedom and reach to explore their surroundings while remaining on leash. It sounds good, but in reality, it’s not.
Retractable leashes are dangerous and have caused injury to both dogs and pet parents. There are a number of reasons that they shouldn’t be used. Let’s explore them one by one.
Your standard run of the mill six-foot cloth leash can be used to pull your dog close to you fairly quickly, while with the retractable leash, you’re relying on the button and cord mechanism to work properly. If it doesn’t work, you may not find that out until you need Fido back by your side in a hurry, and this can leave him in an unsafe situation.
A retractable leash gives a pet parent a false sense of security because it really doesn’t give you proper control of your dog. If Fido can wander as far as he wants to, and the leash allows him to, then you can’t say the leash is doing much controlling. I have seen a dog on such a leash wander freely onto a road and narrowly miss an encounter with a car, so they really don’t offer much restraint at all.
I have tried a retractable leash on my dog – once. He had a wander off to the side then walked around behind me. The cord on the leash gave me a nasty friction burn on the back of my legs. Some pet parents have lost fingers and damaged their hands when they’ve been tangled in the cord or tried to pull their dog in quickly. It’s also possible for your dog to get hurt if the cord loops around their leg.
There have been cases where dogs have run fast with the leash cord extending as they went, and then when they reached the end of the cord they were jerked to a stop. This can cause spinal injuries. While it’s still possible for a dog to do this with a cloth leash, they’re not going to run far away enough to build up too much speed. If your dog is big and solid and doesn’t stop when they get to the end of the cord, then you’re the one that may go flying as they pull you off your feet. Another scenario is that the leash handle is pulled out of your hand and it bounces along the ground after your dog. For some nervous dogs, this can be a bit scary – they won’t know what is rattling along the ground as it chases them.
If you walk your dog on a retractable leash, you may not endear yourselves to the rest of the neighborhood. Not everyone wants to be greeted by your pet, especially if they are afraid of dogs. Similarly, not all dogs will welcome your dog sniffing at them.
It’s not hard to see that there are more disadvantages to using a retractable leash than advantages. You’re much better off using a fixed length cloth leash to walk your dog. That way you’ll keep you and your dog safe, and your community happy.
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