The Devil’s Own Creation (Or How I Feel About Retractable Leashes)

I would like to state for the record – this post is full of my own personal opinion.  I am not a dog trainer or a veterinarian –  I am simply a woman who spends most of her time in the company of many different dogs.

Retractable leashes….how many of you use them?  If I had to guess…I would say it’s almost an even split between those of us who use a good old-fashioned leash to those of you who go for the retractable variety.

In doing a bit of research for this post (ok…I should say “in looking for articles to reinforce my own viewpoint”), I was surprised to find that even Consumer Reports had taken the time to weigh in on this issue.  While their reporting told of a retractable leash severing a dog owner’s finger (seriously….read about it here), I was actually looking for something far less dramatic to discuss with you guys.  The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan states “You should never use such a lead [retractable] for just walking your dog” on his website.   (In fact…check out that link for lots of good dog walking and retractable leash tips.)

Retractable Leash

Picture from a great post on the Dogster site

I honestly do not see the allure of retractable leashes.  When I lived in an apartment, I did use one for Buffy.  She was having trouble walking on a leash…and I tried EVERYTHING.  The retractable leash did work: she walked better with it on and it did come in handy when I couldn’t keep up with her running up and down the stairs.  (We lived on the second floor.)  We did not really use it on long walks, though.   Scarily enough, we stopped using it only after it SNAPPED.  (Thankfully, Buffy is well behaved and did not run off.)

Using clients retractable leashes is – most of the time – just plain annoying.  (Try walking 5 dogs on all on retractable leashes and you will know the definition of annoying.)  The dogs seem to use it as an excuse to run out of control and not listen to me. I have received numerous injuries from the darn things…and while most of them were minor, I did receive a bad burn on the back of both of my legs due to a crazy dog running around me and then taking off.  (And when I say burn….I mean BURN.  It was very severe.  And I am not a wimp!)

So, I have my own experiences, Cesar Millan, and about a hundred other articles backing me up in my statement “Retractable leashes are the devil’s own creation.” 

But, we all know that there are two sides to every coin.  Or, as my mom would say “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla!”

There are 2 instances I can see (and have seen from my own dog walking) where retractable leashes are not as horrible as I have lead you to believe:


I got the retractable leash SKILLZ!

***Long walks in wide open spaces.  Not all of us live in tight, cramped cities with traffic whizzing by and 15 other people out walking their dogs at the same time on the same narrow strip of sidewalk.  Maybe you are taking your dog for a hike. Maybe you live in the middle of nowhere and it is nice to let your dog explore without having total freedom.  That kind of activity gets this dog walkers retractable leash approval.

***With calm, relaxed dogs.  Now, I don’t just mean you have a good, well behaved dog.  I mean, you have a good, well behaved, won’t-chase-after-a-squirrel, not-gonna-get-excited-by-a-loud-noise, chilled out, could-probably-be-walked-without-a-leash dog.  They exist.  If you have one…well, stop reading this right now and go over and give her a big kiss because you are LUCKY…but yes, if you have one of these dogs, retractable leash it UP.

So…maybe retractable leashes aren’t REALLY the devil’s creation.  Maybe they do have their own place and time.  I guess what this (self-proclaimed!) dog expert is wondering is, how did they become such a staple in our dog society?  Why do dog lovers feel the need to buy and use them?  These questions, dear readers, are ones that only you can answer.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

6 thoughts on “The Devil’s Own Creation (Or How I Feel About Retractable Leashes)

  1. The Flexi retractable leash is the best on the market,9 out of 10 situations that go wrong with a retractable leash are USER MISUSE. I love the Flexi retractable leash for the following reasons,

    Flexi Retractable Dog Leads – 10 GOOD REASONS ONE LEASH.

    Safety for man and animal.
    Flexi leads always allow you to fully control your dog and enable the recalling of your companion in any situation.

    More freedom to move.
    Flexi leads offer your dog optimum exercise even if it not possible to let your darling off lead!

    Improved Health.
    Flexi Retractable leads allow your dog 3 times more motion than a conventional lead – this keeps him fit and healty.

    Easy operation.
    Flexi leads offer you the highest possible ease of use – and they are childs play to handle.

    Quality “Made in Germany”.
    Flexi leads must pass 100 different quality tests before they leave the factory in Bargteheide Germany – this is how top products develop, products you and your dog can rely on.

    Hand made precision.
    Flexi leads are not machine made but they are item for item, assembled by hand.

    Specialized on perfection.
    Flexi leads guarantee a long life span and this with a cost/performance ratio which is unbeatable.

    Connections made to measure.
    Flexi has the matching lead model for every dog – whether small or big, ferocious or cheeky, quiet or full of spirits.

    Always trendy.
    Flexi not only offers the highest functionality but sets standards with innovative design ideas and exclusive colouring.

    High service expertise.
    Flexi offers help and advice – be it with questions and proposals about their leads or tips on education and health for your quadruped friend.

  2. Personally I think they should be banned. It is safer to buy a 20ft training leash, which allows you to “feed” your dog more of the line, as the walk will allow, but puts the handler in control at all times, and does not leave the owner praying “please don’t let this be the day the leash gives out”.

    Also, if walking more than one dog, most training leashes come with a little D ring near the handle, allowing a lobster clamp to be fitted, and the lead to act as two 10ft leads. A method I find much more preferable than an individual leash per dog. Dogs are naturally pack animals, and I have found pairing a well behaved dog with a more boisterous puppy, for instance, allows the experienced dog to teach the youngster “doggie manners”.

    Perhaps some people will argue that retractable leashes work for them, and that is all well and good, but if all they are using them for is to quickly reign a dog in, and silently recall it, then that (in my humble opinion) is more to do with the fact the owner is not prepared to put the hours/days/months into training a dog via positive rewards methods, and is just looking for a quick fix to the situation.

    I have seen several dogs in my time run over, killed, one even strangled around a lamp post when the line got tangled, who were on retractable leashes. To me they are neither good for canine or human, and there is nothing a retractable leash can do, that a good, solid, 20ft training leash cannot do, much more humanely and safely for humans and canines alike.

    (Anyone got a rather large cushion I can hide behind now, please … or even a tin hat I might borrow?!)

    • Well you are a liar you have never seen “several dogs run over, killed or strangled” stop the drama. In the right hands the retractable leash is amazing just like a car is. In the wrong hands anything can be harmful. Please stop lying to make a point.

      • My apologies. I didn’t realise you lived in the same area I did. Obviously, if you have never seen it, I must be a liar.

        That said, if you could stop stalking me that would be great. I assume you are stalking me, because how else would you know what I have and have not seen?

  3. Fyre Fli Why would you lie to try to make a valid point. You have not seen “several” dogs run over or killed on a retractable lead, the odds of this are insurmountable. And as for one seen strangled around a lamp post… instead of taking stats maybe you should have tried to rescue the pet. More pets are killed in hot vehicles very year than on any retractable does this mean we should not sallow pets in vehicles? There is a time and place for all leads a pet can be injured as easily with a static lead as a retractable. User misuse is the #1 problem with retractable leads. The owners should take their time to familiarize themselves with a retractable lead so they (the owner) are not a danger to their pets and always maintain control.

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