Retractable dog leads are sold everywhere, in pet shops, market stalls, and online. They can range in price from £8 to £100 plus and come in every colour you can think of. You can get shorter, lightweight leads for small dogs or sturdier ones for large dogs, and they are sold on the premise that they offer controlled freedom for your dog while on your walks. But are they such a good idea?
The dangers of retractable dog leads can cause humans
This is the main reason I hate retractable leads, especially the rope type ones. Because they are mechanical, the locking system can fail (or get knocked), which results in the lead racing out of the handle and often causing injury as the owner’s instinct will be to try and grab the corded lead to prevent the dog from escaping or running into the road, etc. The outcome of this is usually severe friction burns, possibly cuts, and I have heard on the rare occasion heard of fingers getting caught and being amputated due to a lot of friction that can be created along with the amount of tension being created ……..this is a very good article on leads in general from a Dr
Due to the amount of freedom your dog has and the speed that he can build up in 20 metres, it is very easy for him to pull you over and break an arm or something.
Retractable leads can be a nuisance to other people.
Due to the fact that your dog can be anything up to 20+ feet away, this can allow your dog to run up to strangers and jump up to them before you have time to stop it.
This can easily be someone that is scared or feels threatened, they could even be a scared child. If it’s a dog they have run up to it could lead to a fight if the dog feels threatened
What dangers can retractable leads cause your dog?
As well as humans getting friction burns, dogs can also suffer severe injuries from retractable leads.
The dog is quite happily trotting ahead of you, and then wham he comes to a sudden stop. This causes a jerk because he has reached the end of the line. As a result of this jerk, dogs can suffer severe spinal or neck injuries.
While out on dog walks, I have seen dogs almost get knocked down as they have suddenly darted after a cat and into the road and due to the retractable lead might the owner has had no control until it’s too late.
I have also seen dogs get tangled up in the rope when the dog on the retractable lead came over to say hello – in fact; I had to cut a doodle loose once as he got well and truly tangled.
Like humans, a dog can easily get cut when the lead retracts quickly and rubs on the leg or tail.
These leads come with fairly bulky handles, especially the ones for medium to large dogs as a result of a good jerk from the dog (especially if he sees a cat) can result in the lead slipping out your hands – unless you have very big hands like BFG. This results in a loose dog that can run into the road etc.
Because the handles are quite bulky, they a loud noise as they hit the ground, which often scares the dog and makes them go into Flight or Fight mode – usually flight. The handle also travels towards the and has a good chance of hitting the dog. Putting all these triers together can often result in the dog not wanting to go for a walk again and possibly requiring help from a behaviours
It is important to remember that retractable dog leads have mechanical parts. They are made up of various plastic parts which can wear out and break or become faulty. This includes the locking mechanism, which can result in the lead unwinding at will. Due to a lot of the leads only having thing cord, this can, over time, break from the friction of being wound in and out all the time. Similarly, the sudden jerks when it gets to the end can cause it to come away. In any event, any of these scenarios will result in your dog being out of control and possibly running into the road.
Please consider other options very carefully.
Are there any pros to a retractable lead
Umm …if you have a dog that is well trained and has a good recall etc., then they can have some benefits (however, I would use a long line). They do allow dogs that are trained and food recall to have a bit more freedom in the lead to sniff and mark new locations etc.
Think of retractable leads as an advanced tool and a reward for well-trained dogs.
The only other use for something like a Flexi lead is they ake good lures for sighthounds.