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.)
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:
***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!