Retractable Leashes: The Pros and Cons

May 6, 2020

Retractable leashes are a hot topic of debate among dog owners. While some pet parents love the flexibility they give for their furry babies to explore, others are concerned about the lack of control they provide. Before you decide which is best for your pooch, consider the pros and cons of these devices.

The Advantages of Retractable Leashes

Freedom. The most common advantage retractable leash proponents cite is that it gives their furry friend more freedom to explore on outings. Fido gets mental stimulation from exploring his surroundings in his own way, making him a happier pup.

Advanced Training. Once your pooch has learned and obeys commands such as “come” or “heel,” the retractable leash can be used as an advanced training tool to reinforce those commands. 

Convenience. Sometimes allowing your pet to be farther away from you is quite helpful. For example, a retractable leash makes it easy for you to send Fido out for a bathroom break on a rainy day while you stay dry at the back door.

The Disadvantages of Retractable Leashes

Freedom. The freedom provided by a retractable leash can sometimes get your pup into trouble. If your dog is too far from you on a retractable leash, you may not be able to get him back before he is able to run into a roadway or make uninvited contact with a person or another animal.

Injuries. Retractable leashes have been the culprit of injuries to both pooches and humans. Injuries can occur from becoming entangled in the cord and cause rope burn, lacerations, or in rare cases, amputation. Dogs that bolt or chase can sustain neck injuries from the force of the unanticipated stop at the end of the line.  Because the cords are often small and not brightly colored, it can also pose a trip hazard for passersby. 

Training. Many trainers believe the retractable leash can be counterproductive to teaching Fido to walk politely on a leash. It may even encourage leash pulling behavior and can make it difficult to train your pup not to pull on a standard leash.

Tips for Using a Retractable Leash 

  • Retractable leashes are best suited for well-behaved pups in controlled environments. It is best to use a traditional lead-in situation when your best buddy should be kept close by your side, like heavily populated areas, on city streets, and in circumstances when your dog is may become excited. Retractable leashes are not a good option for dogs that can be aggressive to people or other dogs.
  • Opt for the flat belt or tape type rather than the cord type. There is less chance of injuries, such as rope burn and lacerations, with these design types.
  • If the retractable leash is malfunctioning, toss it. 
  • Ensure the collar is properly tightened (but not too tight!). A loose collar will allow the hook ring to fall to the underside of the dog’s neck, increasing the likelihood of getting tangled in the cord.

Whichever type of leash you choose, there is no substitute for being vigilant while on outings with your beloved canine. Put the phone away, pay attention to your surroundings, and enjoy your time with your best buddy.