A retractable leash is not so much a leash as it is a length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. The handles of most retractable leashes are designed to fit comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls how much of the cord is extended. Retractable leashes are popular primarily because they aren’t as confining as regular leashes, allowing dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks. But unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of leash.
10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash
1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.
2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.
4. If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, “road rash,” broken bones, and worse.
5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to “fight back.”
7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
8. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.
9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.
10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven’t been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.
If your dog is well trained, gentle mannered and smart enough to master a regular leash and a retractable leash without being confused, you could be one of the rare guardians that can walk your pooch on any kind of leash without increasing risks to either one of you.
What You Need to Watch Out For
- · Prickling leash burns. Retractable leashes, especially the thin string variety, can very easily cause leash burns. This could happen when you let your pooch race past you with the retractable line zipped up across your bare skin. Unwarranted injuries, however, can be prevented if you try the flat, tape style retractable leash.
- Entanglement or strangulation. Not only can retractable leashes burn us, they can also get twisted around a dog’s neck or legs. Worse, if your pooch panics and jerks the moment they get hog-tied; it could cause the leash to pull even tighter. Although you can loosen the cords that have wrapped around his neck, the situation could quickly become life-threatening.
- Fatal accidents. There are times when our dogs dart away all of a sudden, and with a retractable leash on him, your dog might dart even farther, faster. Nevertheless, it’s the reeling that’s a serious issue here. It is possible that Fido may spot a squirrel or anything interesting across the street, and suddenly take off after it. If you’re not alert enough, his abrupt behavior and an un-sturdy retractable leash could put him smack on the road, right in front of a speeding car.
Other Things You Would Never Want to Happen
- The leash drops. Because these leashes rarely have a wrist strap and are sometimes heavy and bulky, dropping them is a regular occurrence. What’s worse, if you drop the handle, the lack of tension can send the heavy handle hurdling toward your dog. Not only could the heavy leash handle smack your dog in the head, if your dog is spooked by the leash handle zipping deafeningly toward him, he may take off running.
- The cord is grabbed. If you grab the cord/tape while it is being pulled from the handle, you might suffer from immediate injury like cuts and burns.
- The cord wraps around you. Poor handling can also cause the cord/tape to twist around you or someone else’s fingers resulting in deep wounds, or worse, amputation.
- The collar breaks or comes off your dog. The moment this occurs, the leash could retract at top speed while the other end of the line whips around at the same full momentum leading to serious injuries to face, teeth, and eyes.
Trauma to People
There is a warning right on the handle to take caution with your fingers. Fingers have been amputated when entangled in these leashes. Humans have suffered serious rope burns and deep gashes as well. Horror stories of injuries, even amputations, caused by retractable dog leashes have circulated on dog owner boards and forums for years, leading some owners to stop using them. The leashes typically feature a plastic handle with a locking mechanism that allows owners to control how far their dogs can roam. They’re usually made from cord or ribbon-type material that has been blamed for severing fingers as well as burning or lacerating the skin of both dogs and humans who have the unfortunate misstep of getting tangled in them. Injuries reported from the SlyDog leash include facial cuts, broken teeth, eye injuries and a broken collarbone, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall notice.
Click here To see some of the horrible injuries pets/people have sustained due to these dangerous leashes
We have all met another dog on a leash while walking our dog and done the funny figure-eight-untangle-our-pooches game. This becomes much more nefarious when a retractable leash is involved.
Trauma to Dogs
Critical care specialist Dr. Garret Pachtinger treated a dog in respiratory distress after its trachea was torn by the abrupt jerk of a retractable leash. He posted this image on Facebook with a cautionary statement: “If your dog is one that has a tendency to take off running after another animal, choose a different leash!”
Retractable leashes can wrap around a dog’s leg and cause much more serious injury than a traditional leash. If the owner tries to retract the leash, the leash naturally becomes tighter around the victim.