We know, we know. Some dog owners really like them, and we get it…to a point. They tend to extend pretty far, which allows your pups to roam up to 20 feet or more ahead of you. They are popular because they allow the dog a large range of movement without the owner having to follow closely or change their walking pace. However, here we will discuss some of the drawbacks of these leashes and why we will not use them with our clients.
1. They can actually train your dog to pull
The extended distance that a retractable leash allows, can teach your dog that all it has to do is pull to get a few more feet ahead. In theory, the thumb “brake” on the handle can seem like a good control method, so owners will typically allow for an extra foot of slack on occasion as they get tired of the pulling, and inadvertently, this rewards pulling as a behavior.
2. Your dog can get too far away from you
Up to 26 feet can be way too far for the owner to be able to effectively keep tabs on their dog. It’s far enough for your dog to get into a dangerous situation before you have the chance to regain control. This kind of distance can often lead to poor communication between you and your dog and ultimately become a safety issue, not only for you and your dog, but for other people and their dogs as well.
3. They have weak cords
Retractable leashes often have thinner, weaker cords than traditional leashes, which means they wear down more quickly due to the constant spooling and unspooling. A strong dog can break one of these, which can clearly lead to many different potentially dangerous situations.
4. They can cause injuries to your dog
Neither the owner or the dog can consistently keep track of how much more room they have, or when the cord is going to abruptly end. However, if your dog is chasing something or just running along, and they get to the end of the cord, the dog will feel a severe pull on its neck, potentially causing bruising or a tracheal injury.
5. They can cause injury to the dog owners
With so much room to roam, there is the potential that the dogs can wrap the cord around themselves or their owners. When trying to untangle the cord (or your legs from the cord) they can unexpectedly spring back which could cause rope burns, cuts or perhaps even worse, the owner could trip and fall, getting further injured as a result.
6. The handles are poorly designed
The bulky plastic handles usually don’t fit very well, and in my personal experience, my hand is too small (or perhaps my fingers are just too short) to have a tight enough grip on it that I feel as though I have control. They are designed to keep your thumb on the top of the handle so you can quickly use the “brake” function, but as a result there is a chance that you are holding the handle too loosely, therefore should an unexpected situation come up, you may be taken by surprise and drop the handle entirely, which could potentially mean, you lose your dog.
The good news?!?!? There are several GREAT alternatives!
There are much better ways to walk your dog than with a retractable leash! Whether you’re looking for a leash to take walks or jogs, or for a tool to help train your dog not to pull, there are safer options out there.
The Classic Leash
When it comes to walks, the classic five to eight-foot-long “tape” leash is still the best. Flat nylon and leather leashes are typically easier to handle than those made out of thick rope or metal chains.
The Hands-Free Leash
Hands-free leashes (i.e. leashes that are worn around the waist like a belt) are ideal for two types of people. The first is working on improving their dog’s loose leash walking skills. Tethered to your core, the hands-free leash gives your dog less leverage to pull while leaving your hands open to reach for rewards.
The second is anyone who enjoys jogging with their dog. Using a hands-free leash can make your run feel more natural while still keeping your dog close to you and safe.
The Long Line
A long line is a leash used for giving dogs with limited recall the chance to safely sniff around a park or beach on their own. Long lines come in lengths between 20 feet and 50 feet and, while that extra material can present their own sets of challenges, they’re generally safer than retractable leashes. Make sure to only use your long line in wide open spaces, ideally at off-peak times where unsuspecting people won’t accidentally trip over it.
Of course, if you are having real issues with your dog pulling on their leash, your best course of action would be to consult a professional dog trainer. I know of several that I would be happy to refer you too! Trust me when we say, you will enjoy walking your dog so much more once you have control over them, and your Pet Concierge will thank you too!!!