The Dangers of Retractable Leashes

dangers of retractable leashes

There are so many dog owners that get tricked by the nice curb appeal of a retractable leash. In reality, retractable leashes are very dangerous and are one of the worst tools anyone can use for your pet. Let’s talk about the dangers of retractable leashes and why dog owners should avoid them all together.

What Are Retractable Leashes?

Retractable leashes are a type of leash where there is a cable on a pulley system that hooks to your dog’s collar. As the dog moves away from the handler the cable can expand until it reaches its end. When the dog moves towards the handler, the cable retracts back into the handle.

Retractable leashes are designed to give dogs a lot more space to walk, away from their handler, but also to retract so there is no loose line to get tangled or dirty.

What Are The Dangers of Retractable Leashes?

Poor Training Device

A lot of dog owners think that the retractable leash is a great idea because their dog can be a longer distance away than a normal leash and will learn recall because they’ll have to call them in.

One of the biggest parts of teaching recall is a light tug on the dog’s leash to get their attention. Some dog trainers call it “reeling them in.” But with a retractable leash, this isn’t possible.

There is no proper way to use a retractable leash to reel your dog back in so you will end up standing at the end of the retractable leash just repeating the word “come” over and over again. 

That is not training. That teaches a dog it is okay to ignore its owner. Which is a huge issue.

Too Much Space Leads To More Space For Problems

Seeing a dog on a retractable leash while on a walk is a huge safety issue. If your dog is on a retractable leash while on a walk they can have up to 20 feet of space to walk around. There are so many what if’s…

…the dog walks into the road?

…they approaches a human that does not want to be greeted?

…the dog approaches a dog-aggressive-dog or leash reactive dog that is also on a walk?

That much space can lead to your dog getting hit by a car or attacked by another dog. And it is very rude to others in the area. Especially if it is someone with a reactive dog that is trying to get them out for some exercise.

Risk Of Injury to Your Dog

Dog Fight

Going back to the space the retractable leash allows, this gives the dog more of an opportunity to approach dogs while on a walk.

Not every dog wants to be approached. And a dog owner shouting “It’s okay he’s friendly!” does not solve the problem. Because that other dog may not be.

And as someone with a dog-reactive-dog, if an unknown dog approached her and caused her to over react, I would feel terrible. Even though I know I wasn’t to blame. So don’t put other dog owners in that position.

Line Of Fire

With up to 20 feet of space, when walking in a neighborhood there is nothing stopping a dog from walking into the road. If a vehicle is coming, they may not be able to stop fast enough and the dog will get hit.

This doesn’t go for just cars. Motorcycles and other bicyclists can cause injury to a dog if hit as well.

Speaking of bicycles. If the dog is reactive to objects that move like bikes, skateboards, roller blades? They have 20 feet of space. The dog can run right up to that trigger and possibly attack the object or human using that device.

Risk of Injury to The Handler

Retractable leashes are made with a heavy duty nylon. This material makes it easy to expand and retract while avoiding tangling better. But with that comes the risk of injury to the handler.

dangers of retractable leash

If a dog is being reactive and not listening, a handle may quickly grab the nylon rope and try to pull the dog back towards them. This can cause rope burns on the handler’s hands. 

There are also dozens of stories from dog owners or dog sitters of dogs tangling a handler in the line and causing rope burns on legs and arms.

These burns are extremely painful, cause bleeding, and more times than not leave a nasty scar.

Better Options For Dog Owners

When On A Walk

Exercising your dog is a necessary thing as a dog owner. The safest way to do so is on a six foot leash.

Having your dog on a normal six foot leash gives the owner the control they need. There is only six feet of space between the dog and owner, which makes reeling them in as quickly as possible.

There is also no room for a dog to approach other humans, dogs, or objects that are a distance away.

Learning Recall

For those dogs that are learning recall there are safe ways to do it with the right tool.

First, find a large opening that is secluded from other humans, dogs, and objects. Then hook your dog up to a long training leash. The style mimics a six foot leash but can be up to 20 feet.

While the dog is on the training leash, start calling them to a “come”. If the dog is focused otherwise, start reeling them in with gentle tugs on the leash. Once the dog focuses on the owner and rejoins them. Mark and praise it!

If a strange dog or human starts to enter the area, the training leash allows for a quicker reel in of the dog. Reducing the space between them and the new human or dog.
Simple and safe! If anyone is struggling with leash work, the best thing to do is bring in a dog trainer! That way the information comes right from the best source!