Retractable leashes are popular but do have some safety issues that you should be aware of. If you’ve never seen a dog being walked on a retractable leash you might very well be living in a cave or under a rock. These wildly popular leashes aren’t really leashes at all, rather they consist of a cord which is wrapped around a spring loaded device and contained inside a plastic handle. A button on the handle allows the walker to control the amount of leash that extends out, allowing a dog to walk as far or as close as their human chooses.

While this may sound like great fun and freedom for both dog and walker, retractable leashes pose significant risk to the health and safety of both the dog and human who uses it.

Just Say “No” To Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes, which were originally developed to be used during a specific type of tracking and recall training and were never intended for the casual dog walker, are now available almost everywhere pet products are sold.

The following reasons outline why retractable leashes are not appropriate, and can be dangerous:

  • They are too long – Many retractable leashes allow a dog up to 20-26 feet of freedom, which can have serious consequences if a dog decides to chase a squirrel and runs out into traffic (dogs can and have been fatally hit by cars in this way), or makes contact with other people or aggressive dogs outside of your control.  
  • They can break – The cords used in this type of leash tends to be very thin, which are not only difficult to see when extended, but have been known to snap under the stress of a straining dog. A broken leash puts a dog in danger as they are now free to run off, and the force of the break can cause the leash to snap back and hit the human walker in the face.
  • Risk of injury – The list of injuries that have been sustained as a result of using retractable leashes is disturbing and often gruesome. Both people and dogs have suffered neck and back injuries, broken bones (caused by entanglement and tripping), and even severed appendages when the cord is wrapped around and pulled too tightly. Many people have reported having their palms lacerated and even burned by the friction of the cord as they struggle to reign in an out of control dog.
  • The wrong message – Besides being dangerous, retractable leashes send your dog the message that if they pull on the leash, they are free to go wherever they want.  

Safe Leash Walking

All dogs should be walked on a 6-foot, fixed length leash with a sturdy handle that you can put your hand through. Basic obedience training is a must when it comes to safety, as is teaching your dog to walk politely by your side while leashed. Make sure not to approach any other people or dogs without permission and, of course, always clean up after your pet.

Your team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding your dog. Don’t hesitate to contact us!