I have a confession to make…I really dislike retractable leashes. Okay okay so they are uber popular because they conveniently allow your dog to have more freedom to explore; but just hear me out on this one. Here are the reasons I have come to have a distaste for these spring-loaded leads:
1- The purpose of a leash is to keep your pet under your control and within a safe distance of you. The concept of a retractable leash is exactly the opposite of that. Sure they have a locking mechanism but as with most mechanical things these have a tendency to fail or easily become disengaged. Some retractable leads allow the pet on the other end to go as far 26 feet; meaning that you could put an equivalent distance of three and one-half Shaq’s (yes the basketball player) laying down on the ground between you and your dog. This can lead to unexpected confrontations with other animals who may be fearful or defensive. It can also lead to pets running into busy streets putting them at risk of major bodily harm.
2- The elastic cord or tape can cause injury to both the pet and the owner. There are many documented cases of the cord becoming wrapped around body parts leading to cuts, friction burns and in some cases even amputation of fingers (gross right?!). In a frantic effort to reel their dog back in an owner may try to manually reel the line back in more quickly leading to trauma.
3- The design of the handles are bulky making them more prone to being dropped, and the attached lead does not allow for a 2 point hold. A 2 point hold means that you have 2 different areas of the leash that you are under control of – this way if one area slips or fails you still have the leash secured in the second area.
4- The elasticity of the retractable line can lead to neck injuries for the pet on the other end. Imagine you are taking Fido for a walk and he sees a squirrel – Fido takes off after said squirrel and you either engage the aforementioned locking mechanism or Fido reaches the end of the available line causing him to snap back like he went bungee jumping on the cheap in Cancun.
5- They can inadvertently encourage pulling behavior. Because the leash extends when the dog pulls forward, it is teaching the dog that pulling is acceptable. As pulling on the leash is a very common complaint amongst dog owners, this is counterproductive.
So if you use, and dare I say really like, a retractable leash does this make you a bad pet owner? Absolutely not- I just think there are safer options for both you and your pet. Here are a few leashes with some great features to help keep you and your dog secure:
RUFFWEAR Flat Out Leash This leash from RUFFWEAR features what they call a “traffic handle” which allows you to quickly and easily shorten the length of the lead to obtain better control of your dog. It is also adjustable to be worn around the waist or in a traditional hand hold.
Multi-Function Leash This leash by Blue-9 is advertised to have 6 in 1 functionality and features 2 clips for added security.
Hands Free Leash with Extra Security This option from Sparklypets offers a very secure hands free option (great for those who enjoy running or hiking with their dog); with easily accessible hand holds to allow for a 2 point hold.