I know a lot of people use retractable leashes and I’m sure I’ll catch all kinds of pushback about this post. That said and with apologies to those of you who do use them, here’s why I’m opposed to these devices.
Sam and I particularly enjoy our weekend walks. We can linger a little bit later in bed rather than getting up at the crack of dawn and then going out later and actually seeing and catching up with people and their pets on the weekends. We can hang on the corner and chew the fat about the latest news. A recent weekend started out just like most of our other weekend outings.
Sam has a few people he completely adores. He will do just about anything to reach them to say hi and get a couple of chin or ear scratches and our buddy Steve is one of Sam’s absolute favorites but not because he almost always has a pocket treat for Sam. Steve is a super nice guy with a heart go gold and Wyoming drawl who loves all things 4-legged. In Sam’s mind, there isn’t anything better and when you throw in a treat or two…well it’s easy to see why Steve ranks right up there on our list of favs.
Steve has 3 adorable Scottish Terriers. They are classic, busy little black dust mops and everyone in the ‘hood knows them. Boone, Poppy (brother and sister) and the latest addition, Murphy, are just as cute as buttons and typically ‘all’ terrier. They all are on their own retractable leashes as well. I’ve known Poppy and Boone for years and they know me and are always glad to see us. In their excitement at seeing us, they always get wrapped around either me, Sam or Steve. On this encounter, they got wrapped around all 3 of us. I usually let go of Sam’s leash so he can step out of the fray but this time the dogs were so interwoven around him and me, it didn’t matter. We were stuck and Sam was a little freaked out; the more he tried to disengage himself, the worse it got. His frenetic high-stepping seemed to get the Scotties super ginned up and for a moment it was a real cluster. It only ended with a yelp from Sam as one of the leashes had apparently pinched him. By this time both Steve and I were desperately trying to calm down all that energy and untangle the mess. Poor Sam must have been thinking WTH and I was thinking that along with a couple other acronyms. I tried to be gracious and say “well, we better go, loads of errands to run, have a good weekend” but truth be told I couldn’t get away quick enough! My dog had gotten hurt because of those stupid leashes…which is a moronic euphemism for a thin cord that can garotte a leg or ankle tendon willy nilly quick!
In my books, the use of a leash is to keep a dog under control as well to keep said pooch safe and not have it go dashing about under everyone’s foot. By the time I got Sam home to closely examine him, I could see he had a tiny spot that looked like a rug burn.
Years go my son had one of those leashes for his wildly active German Shorthair Pointer. His thinking was by giving him room to run ahead, he’d tire out more quickly without having to try to personally keep up the same pace. I recall once he took the dog to a softball practice and the leash extended out fully and then SNAPPED back! That $40 leash was now just a handle in my son’s hand with his dog was blocks away in a split-second. That taught me a valuable lesson that day to NEVER, EVER get one of those things. But seeing the potential havoc they can wreak really solidified my biases against them and made me think about the danger. They do nothing to train a dog to politely walk and everything to encourage pulling.
Here are a number of reasons not to use a retractable leash:
- Since some of those leashes can be 20 or more ft. long and a dog can be far enough away from his human when the situation can quickly turn dangerous. A quick pivot toward a cat or squirrel and the dog could be in the street facing oncoming traffic, for instance.
- You could be approached by an aggressive dog and at 20 or more feet, it’s nearly impossible to get control of any potential problem quickly.
- A strong dog could break that thin line and could end up in a dangerous situation-see #1 & 2. Similarly, the cord can snap back and injury the handler.
- Dogs can easily get tangled up in retractable leashes resulting in burns, bruises, road rash, or worse.
- Dogs can receive an injury to their neck or spine when the retraction mechanism is engaged and the resulting jerk clicks in place (it’s not wise to challenge the law of inertia–moving objects tend to keep moving).
- Because dogs tend to pull with these leashes, the pulling could be perceived as aggressive by another dog.
- The handles can be easily pulled out of human hands.
- The clatter of a dropped retractable leash can frighten a fearful dog. If it’s running away, the racket simply follows the poor dog who can’t get rid of it.
- Like most retractable devices, leashes tend to malfunction over time, refusing to retract or extend.
- Retractable leashes are a bad idea for a dog who has not learned to politely walk next to its handler and next to impossible to administer any correction when needed.
When your dog is well-trained on a regular leash and a retractable leash without any confusion in its behavior, then you my friend are a genius by being able to walk your dog with no risks to you or others. Sadly, I think few qualify in that regard, since most people (at least in my neighborhood) tend to be more focused on social media than whether or not their dog is walking calmly next to them, while not peeing/pooping all over their yards without being picked up or racing up to the next dog they see without knowing if that dog can handle something like that. Sorry for the rant, but when my sweet dog gets injured because someone can’t handle their 3-ring circus on walks, well…can you see why I’m hoping ‘retractables’ get retracted…permanently?
Live, love, bark! <3