Is It Time to Ditch the Retractable Leash?

Updated: May 27



In the pet world, retractable leashes have become very controversial. Despite the controversy, they remain wildly popular and are sold at nearly every pet store, as well as online. Dog owners are attracted to these leashes thinking they’re doing their dog a service by giving them some extra leeway to sniff, poke, and walk ahead, and they don’t seem as confining as a standard leash.


Despite their popularity, retractable leashes are actually quite dangerous and problematic for both dogs and dog owners alike. Why? There are a number of different reasons.


Retractable leashes are a thin, long cord, with some extending as far as 26 feet. Giving your dogs such a long leash can quickly turn from innocently sniffing something in the grass, to a potentially dangerous scenario. This far distance between dog and owner can insert the both of you into stressful situations, such as your dog running into the middle of the street or making uninvited contact with other dogs, cats, or even people. Getting into one of these situations can happen so fast that once inserted, it is nearly impossible to gain control or alleviate it.


Not only does a retractable leash allow too much space between a dog and an owner, but there is a high possibility of the thin cord breaking, especially depending on the size and strength of your dog. Your dog could be one squirrel running across its path away from taking off at full speed and snapping the thin leash.


Now, you might be thinking, “I have a small dog, so my leash is fine.” But, no matter the size of your pooch, a retractable leash can inflict injury upon you or your pet. Let’s say your dog has run out of leash and has gotten too far ahead, so you’re trying to reel them back in. Your grip and pull on the thin cord can actually result in burns, cuts, and in extreme cases, amputation. What about your dog? Well, dogs on these leashes have been known to suffer from terrible injuries due to the sudden jerk on their neck when they reach the end of the leash and try to keep going. This includes, but is not limited to, neck wounds and spinal injury. Owners have also been known to literally be swept off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of their leash and keeps going.


Another point that is very important to note is that retractable leashes can train a dog to pull while on walks, especially if your dog has not been trained to walk on a regular leash. Walking your dog on a retractable leash reinforces the idea that pulling extends the lead, and they will continue to think pulling you down the street is perfectly fine behavior.


If you have a retractable leash, don’t worry about it. You’re not the first dog owner to have this thought, and the fix is very simple! Go down to your local pet store and pick up a classic leash. Classic leashes allow a shorter length between you and your dog, giving you more control on walks and preventing any potentially harmful situations. There is also no risk of injury for either you or your dog, and it is much easier to train your dog to walk politely and stay close by. Additionally, the material is much more sturdy and thick, so you reduce that risk of the leash snapping.


As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep you and your pup safe and healthy. Knowledge is power when it comes to safety, and we hope to armor you with plenty of it! If you decide to keep your retractable leash, do your best to minimize the use to fields and enclosed spaces. While walking in the city, confined areas, or heavily populated spaces, grab that classic leash!


This post was written by Kelsey Kryger.

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