I see it all the time – a dog that appears to be walking on his own until you look 10 feet behind and see a human trailing behind holding a big, bulky plastic mechanism. This dog is being walked with a retractable leash. A retractable leash is a thin cord or ribbon wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. There is a button on the handle to control how much of the leash extends. While the theory seems quite cool, it’s quite disastrous in practice. Here’s why:

1) You have very minimal control over your dog: A retractable leash provides very little control over your dog, especially when the leash is fully extended and your dog is 10 ft away from you. If a dangerous situation arises at the end of the leash, you won’t be able to prevent it or intervene quickly enough.

2) You can’t correct your dog: If the cord is extended and you need to correct your dog, it is impossible to do so. You need to reel him in first and then correct, which is pointless by then. A correction needs to be immediate after the “bad behaviour”, not 10 -20 seconds after the fact.

3) The cord can break (I’ve seen it many times): If you have a strong dog that might take off at the sight of something, the cord can actually snap, leading to a runaway dog.

4) Sudden jerking on the neck: I’m no vet but I can only imagine the impact on a dog’s neck or spine when he’s running and runs out of leash, resulting in a sudden jerking/snapping of the neck.

5) The cord can burn a human’s hands: If a person grabs the cord of a retractable leash in an attempt to reel their dog in, they can burn or cut their hand. If a person gets tangled up in the cord, the same can happen to their body.

6) The handle is big and bulky: The handle on a retractable leash is meant to be comfortable enough to be held by a human but the truth is they can be quite bulky. Your dog can easily pull the handle right out from your hands and escape.

7) Retractable leashes train your dog to pull: If your dog has never been trained to walk next to you or behind you on leash, then the retractable leash is an especially bad idea. Retractable leashes train your dog to pull on leash because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

The best least for walking your dog, regardless of age or size, is a flat leash. It allows you to have the most control over your dog to protect him (and yourself) from a sticky situation that could arise.

Tonia has owned her own dog walking company and been a full-time professional dogwalker for over 4 years. She is a member of Pet Sitters International and the Pet Professional Guild (the Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals). She volunteers weekly at a local dog shelter where she gets to feed and spend time with many furry friends.
She started Dogwalker World to share her knowledge and passion about dogs and their natural instinct to walk and explore. She believes (and knows) that walking your dog can be a fun activity that will only strengthen your bond with them. This website is her dedication to you to ensure that you find the tools and advice necessary to make walking your dog a success!

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