Are retractable dog leashes good or bad? The answer really depends on who you talk to. I have talked to a lot of people that just love them because it gives their dog more freedom on walks. Most dog trainers don’t like them because of safety concerns. I am a trainer and I not only have safety concerns, but I have seen some of those concerns become a reality.
While I understand wanting to give your dog more freedom on walks and allowing them to explore a little, please remember that retractable dog leashes are designed to be used outdoors. I have seen too many owners using retractable leashes in pet stores and not paying attention to their dogs. If the leash isn’t locked properly, or accidentally unlocked, their dogs can wander around the corner or run up to a strange dog before anyone realizes what is happening. Most of the time things go well, but there have been times when I’ve had to step in to avoid a bad situation.
I have already mentioned that retractable dog leashes were made for outdoor use. If you are going to use a retractable leash, I would recommend using it in an area with very few distractions. Why? Again, safety is an issue especially if there are a lot of distractions. Most of these leashes extend out to approximately sixteen feet. If your dog is close to you and sees a squirrel or rabbit and decides to chase it, there is a potential for disaster. The best case scenario is that you see the distraction before your dog, and lock the leash. The worst case is one of you may get seriously hurt as your dog takes off and reaches the end of the dog leash. Owners have been pulled off their feet and dogs have had their necks snapped around. Luckily, most have escaped with only minor bruises and embarrassment. Others have suffered concussions or broken bones.
A lot of the retractable leashes are made of a thin cord. These cords can get wrapped around legs, hands and fingers. People other than owners can also trip when the owners aren’t paying attention or don’t lock the leash when in congested areas.
Dogs on retractable leashes have run out in the street, attacked bicycles, skateboarders, and have been attacked by other dogs. They could also eat or pick up things they shouldn’t have before their owners have realized it.
These are some of the reasons most trainers advise against retractable leashes. If you decide to use one, make sure you have a standard four or six foot leash for use in pet stores and in congested areas. Always make sure to avoid high distraction areas with the retractable leashes.