Polar Bear and I love going for walks together, but here’s a fact: You’ll never see me walking him on a retractable leash. I find retractable leashes dangerous and no good, and there are a number of reasons why.
From causing injuries to giving you less control over your dog, there’s one pet product all dog owners should avoid: Retractable leashes. Dangerous and even deadly, 3 reasons to avoid retractable leashes include:
- Potential for injury to humans
- Potential for injury to dogs
- Less control of your dog
It’s best to avoid using retractable leashes. Keep reading to learn more about why the risks of using these leashes outweigh any benefits.
What is a Retractable Leash?
A retractable consists of a spring-loaded device in a plastic handle and a long, thin cord. The cord is wrapped around the spring-loaded device within the handle’s housing. The handle is designed to fit in your hand. A clip is at the end of the cord. The clip attaches to your dog’s collar or harness. As your dog pulls, the cord extends, allowing him extra room to walk. Some retractable leashes have cords up to 26 feet in length.
Most retractable leash handles don’t come with a wrist loop like standard leashes. This means they are easier to drop while walking your dog. There are many other things that can go wrong with this type of leash.
Are Retractable Leashes Safe for Dogs?
In a word, no. Pet parents should know that many risks come with using a retractable leash. Many dogs have been seriously injured by retractable leashes. Some ways dogs are injured by unsafe leashes include:
- Sudden jerks: When your dog is pulling on a retractable leash and runs out of line, he will experience a sudden jerk. This can be harmful to your dogs neck and cause injuries like whiplash, trachea damage, burns or wounds to his neck or even a spinal injury.
- Your dog could be hit by a car: A dog on a retractable leash has a lot of leeway as opposed to a dog on a regular leash. It is hard to control a dog on a retractable leash. Without much control and with so much lead in a retractable leash, your dog could potentially dart into traffic and he hit by a car while on this type of leash.
- Injuries when the leash retracts: According to vets, dogs can get hurt when leashes retract. Your dog’s leg or tail can become twisted in the leash while it is extended, and suddenly retracting the leash while your dog is entangled can cause deep cuts — or even amputate a tail or leg. This can happen very quickly.
- It can seriously hinder leash training: If you’re teaching a dog to walk on this type of leash, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, teaching a dog to walk on a retractable leash can teach them to pull. Pulling extends the lead, giving them more freedom. A dog trained to walk on a retractable leash might have trouble walking on a standard leash.
- The lack of control can lead to attacks: If your dog is walking on a retractable leash, he might get into trouble should an aggressive dog approach. If your dog is at the end of a 26 foot leash and he is attacked, you might not be able to quickly pull him out of harm’s way.
- Cords can snap: Retractable leashes have a thin cord that winds around an internal spring-loaded mechanism. The cord can easily snap. If your dog is running full speed and you lock the leash, it can break and your dog can run away.
With so many reasons why retractable leashes are unsafe, it is easy to see why they should be avoided.
Are Retractable Leashes Safe for People?
There are many ways for your dog to get hurt on a retractable leash. Believe it or not, but you can get hurt when you walk your dog on this kind of leash, too.
Here are a few potential injuries pet parents can suffer by retractable leashes:
- Burns and cuts: If you grab the leash cord in an attempt to reel in your dog, you could suffer cuts and burns from the pressure and friction. Imagine what could happen if your dog quickly pulls 10 or 20 feet of leash out but then needs to stop. Grabbing the leash cord will lead to tension and friction, which could result in a serious injury.
- You could be pulled off your feet: Your dog might sweep you off your feet with love, but he shouldn’t pull you off your feet. Dogs running at full speed as they extend the leash build up a lot of momentum and you could be put in a bad position when they reach the end of the leash and can’t pull anymore. This could mean a fall and injuries
Are Retractable Leashes Good For Puppies?
Retractable leashes are not good for puppies. In fact, many vets and dog trainers find retractable leashes dangerous for puppies.
This kind of lead essentially trains dogs to pull. This can lead to future behavioral issues. In many cases, this type of leash is simply too long for its own good.
Is a Retractable Leash Ever OK?
There are very few situations in which a retractable leash is OK to use. According to expert Cesear Milan, retractable leashes are only OK for a few types of training. You might use one for tracking and recall training. These are the only situations in which a retractable leash is OK.
What’s the Best Leash For Your Dog?
There are two kinds of leashes recommended to use when walking your dog: A slip lead and a standard leash. I’ve used both, and both have merits.
What is a Slip Lead?
A slip lead or slip leash has a metal ring at the end of the leash. You put the handle through the ring and it forms an adjustable loop. It essentially forms a slip around your dog’s neck. When he pulls, the leash gets tighter. It can be used for training. You need to be very careful when using a slip lead.
What is a Standard Leash?
A standard leash has a clip on the end that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness. It has a loop to hold at the other end. Leashes are available in many sizes, ranging from just a few feet to 15 or more feet.
My favorite leash is a 6-foot long standard leash made from 1-inch black nylon. It has a padded handle for my comfort and a heavy-duty clasp to attach to Polar Bear’s collar. It serves us well. It gives me ample control over Polar Bear as we walk and is safe for our regular use.
Learn More Tips for New Dog Owners
Today’s lesson was simple: I find retractable leashes dangerous and no good. You’ll find a number of other resources and tips for new dog owners at our blog. Consider checking out our recent posts including: