Retractable dog leashes are huge nowadays among dog owners. Many people like them because it gives their dog that extra bit of freedom to walk around and not be so confined or stuck at their owner’s side. While this sounds good to some people, the dangers far outweigh this selling point when it comes to retractable leashes.
While retractable leashes give your dog 20-30 more feet of freedom than a traditional leash, there are many negatives as well. Injuries can occur to both dogs and owners while using these leashes. Injuries to humans include amputated fingers, rope burns, and deep gashes. Innocent bystanders can also be tripped or knocked over by an extended retractable leash if they cross paths. There is a warning label on the handle of these leashes for a reason.
Dogs can get their legs wrapped around these leashes, causing serious injury and again, in some cases, amputation. These injuries happen in the blink of an eye, with little or no time for any kind of reaction. With more freedom comes less control. Dogs on retractable leashes can wonder more easily into traffic and get hit. It is not as simple as reeling your dog back in to you on the leash. If you jerk the leash back to avoid a dangerous situation, you can cause severe injury to your dog’s back and neck. If you’re walking your dog and another dog approaches, retractable leashes make it harder to separate the dogs should a hostile encounter occur.
Another negative to these leashes is the use of them in confined spaces (i.e. the vet’s office). Your dog can wonder around and into places/people it perhaps should not wonder into. Although you know your dog is a lovable goofball who wouldn’t hurt a fly, not everyone knows that, especially if they see a bigger dog walking around willy nilly. This can cause people to be uncomfortable. As a dog owner, you need to be courteous, considerate, and aware of your surroundings.
Many behaviorists believe that retractable leashes encourage pulling. Your dog will learn that pulling on the leash is rewarding and so that’s what he will do. And what if you accidentally drop the leash? Many dogs become startled and spooked when they sense something is chasing them, so a leash handle coming at them is good for nobody.
While giving your dog some extra slack on his leash sounds like a good idea, please consider the very serious downfalls of these leashes and know that traditional leashes are much, much safer.
Resources: Dogtime.com, Petful.com