Retractable leashes cause a pretty hot debate amongst dog parents. Some love the freedom they offer while others say they’re downright dangerous.
My hope for this article? It’s not to get your blood pumping or to make you feel judged if you use a retractable leash. We all want the best for our dogs and you know what you and your pooch can handle. Personally, I used them for years and ditched them about two years ago over some of the reasons you’ll see on the following list.
My real goal is to raise awareness for the arguments against them, so you can decide what leash is best for your pup!
1. Too Much Freedom Isn’t Always A Good Thing
One of the main reasons pet parents like retractable leashes is their dogs have more freedom to explore their surroundings — sniff the bushes and pee on the distant trees. But, with many extending upwards of 25 feet, dogs can easily get far enough away from their humans where a situation can quickly turn dangerous.
For example, a dog may dart into the middle of the road, run up to an unfriendly dog, jump on fellow walkers/joggers, or even eat something harmful. With your dog so far away, you likely won’t have enough control to reel him in quick enough. And – sure – it’s impossible to shelter Fido from every potential hazard out there. But you definitely have more control over where your dog goes and what your dog does when he is on a traditional leash.
2. Sudden Stops Can Cause Injury To Your Dog
Retractable leashes often feature a thin rope-like cord that extends from a plastic handle. On that handle is a button that locks the cord from extending or retracting, so the dog walker can control how much leeway the dog is given. Often times, people will hit the lock button after their dog jolts off and is full speed ahead chasing a squirrel, running after a biker, or any other scenario you may think of. This sudden jolt can put a strain on your dog’s neck, trachea, and spine.
3. Retractable Leashes Can Break
True story: Over the years, I’ve had three retractable leashes break on me! If a powerful dog takes off at full speed, that thin cord has been known to snap. Not only does that put the dog at risk (and whatever he was chasing), but depending on where it snaps that retracting leash could possibly fling back at the human on the other end.
Additionally, over time, retractable leashes have a tendency to malfunction. Sometimes they stop extending, other times they stop retracting.
4. People Can Get Hurt Too
Retractable leashes have been linked to burns, cuts, and, in some extremely severe cases, even amputation. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s pretty easy to get tangled up in that thin cord. My little guys love to run around my legs, and I’ve dealt with my fair share of burns as a result. Another scenario: The dog darts off and the human grabs the cord in an attempt to quickly reel Fido back. The result? An unpleasant hand burn!
5. The Handles Are Bulky
Often time, the handles on retractable leashes are big, bulky, and hard for little hands to get a good grip. One strong tug from your dog and that leash may come flying out of your human paws (AKA hands). And you know what that means, right? There’s a dog on the loose! But not only is Fido on the loose, he’s running with a big leash handle attached to him. For most dogs, it will make them run faster because they are scared of the big noisy thing bopping, banging, and chasing them.
6. Teaches Bad Leash Manners
When you first start training a dog to walk on a leash, what’s the goal? The answer: For Fido to walk nicely by your side (not ahead of you) without yanking and pulling. Well, when you use a retractable leash, you’re basically teaching your pooch the exact opposite. They begin to learn that pulling gains them more freedom.