Seven Reasons Not To Buy A Retractable Leash | – Keep Doggie Safe
Seven Reasons Not To Buy A Retractable Leash

Seven Reasons Not To Buy A Retractable Leash

 People who think that they are doing their dog a favor by using a retractable leash for walking their dogs are not helping their dog.  We've heard lots of horror stories from our customers about retractable leashes. So, we've created a list of seven reasons why you should not use retractable leashes.

Retractable leashes put your dogs at risk.

One of our customers wasn't paying close attention to her dogs and didn't notice them walking into an elevator. The door closed and the dogs went up. By the time the elevator reached the fifth floor, the leashes broke. When the dogs finally got down to ground level again, they were fine, but the owner wasn't. She was crying hysterically. She vows to never put her dogs in danger again by using a retractable leash close to a dangerous area such as an elevator or a busy street.

They give you a clear lack of control.

Veterinarians will tell you that retractable leashes provide a clear lack of control. Owners of badly behaved or over-stimulated dogs can leap far away from their owners and attack people or other dogs. This happens in vets offices where other animals are present or while walking your dog.

They are a training hazard.

Retractable leashes also allow your dog to walk ahead of you, making your dog in control. With a retractable leash, you have no way to correct your dog's bad behavior. Dogs attack other dogs, run in front of cars, and create all types of havoc on a retractable leash.

They are a danger to others.

More than one person has tripped over the long retractable leash while walking a dog, or while passing someone else who is walking a dog.

They are a danger to dogs.

Coyotes love dogs on retractable leashes, it keeps the dogs close to them, not the owners, and it only takes one second for tragedy to strike

You can't use a coupler with a retractable leash.

If you try to use a coupler, you have no control of two dogs. More importantly, these leashes have weight limits and the second dog could take it over that limit and snap.

They are not safe for children.

The scariest is to see a little kid walking a dog on a retractable leash.  They don't have the life experience to understand all that can happen when a dog is that far away from them with all of the obstacles that can occur.

The leashes are unreliable.

We’ve never found a retractable leash that didn’t click and stick or unspool suddenly at the exact wrong time (like when a stray cat crosses your path and an oncoming car has to slam on the brakes to spare your dog’s life). Sticky situations like this serve to illustrate how the “canine lunge line” can serve to thoroughly foul up your control over the animal.

What To Do?

At Keep Doggie Safe, we recommend that you use a standard leash.  We are open to feedback, so if you disagree and love retractable leashes, let us know. But tell us how you overcome the reasons above to have a satisfying experience with your dog.


Top Dog

I have to disagree with several of these reasons, because none of these things would happen if the leash were properly retracted by a reasonable person. That’s the point of the leash. If you want the control of a short leash, you retract it to a short lead. If you want the dog to have some freedom in a park to sniff some trees, you lengthen the lead, while paying attention to your surroundings. If a dog owner is so unaware of what’s around them or so slow and incapable of simply retracting the leash at the proper time, I’m not sure they should have a dog in the first place. I would notice a coyote coming our way, as well as an elevator closing, etc. If a dog owner is so unattentive that they can’t spot these obvious potential dangers, even a short lead won’t help them. There’s an old cliche, you can’t fix …." That’s just an inept human, not a problem with the retractable leash. If you had said “people get retractable leashes not strong enough for the dog, and they’ll snap”, I’d agree with you. If you said the really cheap ones get stuck, so get a quality leash, I’d agree with you. However, all of the reasons you list are really examples of human, um, confusion, and someone that incapable should not have a dog in the first case.

Top Dog

Yuck, that must have really hurt. We just learned that where we live in Orange County, CA, it’s actually against the law to walk your dog on a retractable leash. It must be a six foot leash, otherwise, you are libel for everything that happens to you and everything that your dog does.

Top Dog

Thanks for your story. This is what prompted us to write this blog. We have heard about dogs getting into elevators without their owners seeing them. Luckily the leash snapped and the dogs were saved.
We just came back from super zoo and there are lots of safety features coming in retractable leashes.

Top Dog

Another reason NOT to use retractable leashes….if you can’t hit the ‘lock’ button in time, the natural reaction is to grab the cord of the leash. I learned the hard way and sliced my finger almost to the bone by trying to grab the cord as it reeled out of the retractable. I only walk dogs now with a 3’ nylon flat leash.

Top Dog

I walk dogs for a living. I couldn’t do so if I had to use a standard leash. Standard leashes constantly get caught up between the dogs’ legs forcing me to stop, bend down, and untangle the leash. Standard leashes don’t give dogs the opportunity to explore territory; if a dog wants to sniff towards a tree, the curb, a fire hydrant, etc, I am often forced to walk on uneven ground (grass, gravel, etc). Being prone to twisted ankles, I must therefore constantly pull the dog back, drastically reducing the enjoyment of the walk. Most of the dogs I walk pull hard, putting tremendous pressure on their necks. I am not a dog trainer and am not interested in being so, so, rather than constantly playing tug of war, the retractable leash allows the dog to zig zag, lag behind, run ahead, and overall get a much more fun and cardiovascular workout than a slow walk (I walk about 2 mph) would ever get.

Yes, a retractable leash is much more difficult to use than a standard leash. And, more importantly, a retractable can lead to serious injury or death. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit more than just reading the instructions and being aware of what could go wrong; it takes a lot of practice to learn to keep dogs safe. I have several non-negotiable rules:

1. Whenever I get within 20 feet of an intersection, I bring the leash in and lock it to 4 feet. I make the dog stop and wait until my command to cross the street.

2. Whenever I see a person within 50 feet of us, I bring the leash in and lock it to 4 feet, forcing the dog to walk in step with me.

3. Whenever I enter into or exit from an elevator, I bring the leash in and lock it to 4 feet, forcing the dog to walk in step with me.

4. I never text or talk on the phone when walking. I must be on the lookout for squirrels and other animals which may prompt my dog to take off. I immediately bring in the leash and lock it to 4 feet, forcing the dog to walk in step with me.

5. When I stoop to pick up poop, I lock the leash to 4 ft so that the dog can’t wander into the street or take off toward someone or something.

6. Just for extra precaution, I wear a wristband attached to the handle so that if the dog takes off suddenly, or I drop the handle, the dog remains in my control.

It’s unfortunate that retractables, like Bull Terriers and Doberman Pinchers, get such a bad wrap. When treated responsibly, they can bring lots of joy.

Top Dog

[…] you have an extendable leash, pay attention to other pedestrians and cyclists around you.  Your dogs’ free rein means those […]

Top Dog

SO sorry to hear this story. I try as hard as possible to not start talking about safety concerns when I see people with retractable leashes.
We were sitting outside and this couple had two cute dachshunds on two retractable leashes sitting under a tree. In one second, we heard this horrible Dog yelp.
The dachshund had gotten his tail caught in the leash and it cause a severe cut . Even while sitting, those cords on the leashes need to be monitored.

Top Dog

Very good points. And unfortunately we wholeheartedly agree that many people really should be trained to be good dog parents.

Top Dog

Very good point about the tape vs the cord. We recently saw an incident where a daschund got their tail caught in the cord.
They now make tape that are also reflective

Top Dog

I totally agree with Jenn’s comments – it’s the owners at fault not the dogs.
I don’t like the ‘cord’ retractables & only use the ‘tape’ style which is more visible than the cord style & not quite so likely to cause a cut if it rubs against a leg or arm.

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