People really like convenience these days, one of which many consider the retractable leash to be. Admittedly, it can be convenient. At least the media and the companies that make them would like you to think . But then again, let's remember that it’s your beloved dog and your body parts that are most important.
First of all, for those who don’t know what a retractable leash is, it’s a bit of canine gear, a combination of a thin leash (tape or cord) and a handheld spool on which the leash is automatically retracted whenever it's used. However, most have a lock that will literally keep the leash from winding back into the handle so it can be used as a real leash of whatever length the handler desires.
A simple enough device, you say. Easy, and it seems convenient. Or so I used to think. But I quickly learned about the down side. Unfortunately, it is still offered for sale.
And knowing what I do now, I would never use one on a puppy or any young dog. Or any dog that is not well leash-trained. Wow, that can cover a LOT of dogs from what I’ve seen.
SO, WHAT ARE THE DOWN SIDES?
All retractables work on a tension system, which means if you don’t lock the leash, it will constantly be pulling your dog the whole time you are using it, keeping tension on the leash and your dog’s neck, especially since almost all users attach the retractable leash to their dog’s collar. (Ugh! Talk about setting your dog up for spinal problems!)
Using a retractable leash can actually teach your dog to PULL, since that’s the only way for the leash to feed out and your dog to go any distance from you.
If you are using treats to train your dog, you almost need a third hand to juggle everything. You’ll feel pretty clumsy quickly.
Worst of all is that a retractable leash can be dangerous to life and limb. Yours! And your dog’s! People have lost fingers and more, and dogs have lost toes, etc. Deep cuts and burns from dogs racing against the leash. And then there’s the tripping aspect. Not pretty. And I can’t imagine handing a dog on a retractable to a child. I shudder at the possible consequences.
Yes, I have used a retractable with one of my dogs, McTavish. He was a burly kind of guy, 68 pounds, but well trained. But he was not a dog to run on me because of a distraction, nor was he a dog one touched around his head and neck. It was a quick on and a quick off. Period. My other dogs over the years . . . no way.
Like many, I’ve had my fingers and hands pinched and “rope burned” and have even had a bad burn on one calf. Indeed, hard lessons learned, telling me that a retractable leash wasn't my smartest choice.
NOTE: There have been much worse “accidents” out there, but I didn't want to go there. You can do your own research on that. It’s been so bad that retractable leashes have been banned in some areas/countries. Seriously, I don't recommend them.