Retractable Leads, Friend Or Foe?
If you are a dog owner you most certainly have seen or own a retractable or Flexi lead. Retractable leads offer 10-30 feet of cord or tape lead wound up inside a plastic encasement, with a braking/locking system to help reel in the dog. The idea of allowing your pooch the freedom to stop, smell, walk and run all while you are keeping the same pace seems like it benefits both the handler and the dog. However, some of the dangers that go along with all that freedom may outweigh the short-term benefits.
The different lengths offered by retractable leads seems like a cool feature except when the dog you are walking goes running after the squirrel that is 20 feet in front of you. The majority of our dogs can sometimes be unpredictable while walking and we rely on their body language to tell us when they may react. How can we possibly see their eye and nose movements when they are yards away?
As dog handlers we will do everything we can to maintain full control over the pooch we are walking. Retractable leads with 20 feet of cord or tape are impossible to grab a hold of when there are only seconds to react. If you think about it, using a retractable lead may inadvertently be teaching your dog, “to get further, you need to pull”. How often do you utilize both hands on the lead while walking your dog? If it is more than once, a standard 4-6 foot leash is the best option and can keep you safe from any injuries related to a retractable lead.
Yes, injuries! Burns, cuts, broken teeth, and amputations have all occurred while using retractable leads. Similar to a rope burn, the cord and tape inside a retractable lead move very fast when your dog is pulling and can slice right through skin. How many times have you had to step out of a retractable lead that has wrapped around your legs or ankles? If you haven’t been hurt yet, you are lucky! Collars have broken leaving the lead clip no other option but to come flying back towards the handler as it winds back up inside the plastic encasement.
Not only can retractable leads cause significant ailments to humans, they can also cause injuries to dogs. Some dogs have suffered from collapsed tracheas, burns, and cuts from the retractable lead. Unfortunately, some pups don’t understand the lead is still attached until the cord runs out and their neck is jerked backwards. The freedom offered by the lead length has also led dogs to run into busy streets or pickup foreign objects off the ground.
With more options being offered on retractable leads, the more likely a mechanism inside will malfunction. The breaking/locking system is the only way to stop the dog from pulling more lead length. If that malfunctions, the lead is useless and even more dangerous than it was before. For those dogs that really like to pull, they may end up pulling right through the breaking system. With 10 feet or more lead inside, it’s hard to tell if there is a tear in the cord or tape until it is too late.
All in all, retractable leads may work well for some dogs in certain situations. If your pup is a puller, has high prey drive, not social with other dogs or people, a standard leash may be the best and safest option. A little food for thought while out walking with your floofin.