One thing I never gave much thought about until I became a professional pet sitter was retractable leashes. We used them for our own dog and it seemed fine. They can go sniff and we aren’t obligated to follow them closely into the grass/mud/dirt. Freedom was great, right? NOPE!! Turns out I learned a lot of dangers now that I walk dogs every day!
- They offer little control. It is so much harder to control your dog with retractable leashes. The second they get more than a few feet away, it becomes much more difficult to control them versus a regular leash. The further away your dog gets from you, the less leverage you have to get them back. Definitely not a good situation if you are trying to keep them away from an aggressive dog, going in the street, etc.
- The more leash they have, the faster the speed to get away! If your dog takes off and you aren’t paying attention for that split second, you just gave them 20+ feet head start. If you have a larger dog, you’ll likely have an abrupt meeting with the ground shortly. Whether you are able to stay upright or not, the opposing force from you will yank on the dog’s collar/harness and can cause severe injury.
- They are cheaply made and fail all the time. The locking mechanism strips easily, allowing the dog to continue to pull away. They no longer retract. The thin rope breaks, etc, etc. All of these are especially dangerous when it is a critical situation. A normal lead will last you a lifetime, assuming Fido doesn’t chew on it. 🙂
- The rope cuts like a knife. NEVER grab the rope or let it get tangled around you or your dog. Thankfully I’ve only gotten some minor cuts from them but I’ve seen some really deep lacerations from the ropes. Some come in a ribbon form which is better but they still get tangled around you and the dogs, not to mention they jam in the slot on the handle all the time, causing another issue altogether.
- The handles are big and bulky, making it much easier to get pulled out of your hand and/or dropped. I always wrap the leash around my hand thus, no matter what, the leash will not go free and it allows for much better control of the dog(s).
- Ideally, your dog should walk next to you which is very hard to do with a retractable leash. If your dog pulls on the walk, you’ll have a hard time trying to control them with a retractable leash, especially if they are a larger dog. much less trying to train them properly. A standard leash is a much better tool for leash and walk training.
That all said, if your dog is properly leash trained, shows no aggression and responds to your commands, you can be one of the lucky ones to use any leash you like. Otherwise, we definitely recommend just a plain old-fashioned leash.