Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I think retractable leashes should be outlawed.

I've been saying this for years.  I HATE retractable leashes. 

I have a friend that is a bit offended by this.  I guess there are people that know how to use them, or have dogs that are under control enough that they could use them.  Maybe there should be a class on how to use them.

What's the big deal, you may ask?  Perhaps you haven't seen what I see nearly every day.

Retractable  leashes are simple to use, right?  You just hold on to the handle and ZINGggg  (that's the sound it makes, in case you've never used one)... your dog can run out to the end, much farther than the boring, old fashioned, six foot leash.  Then, if your dog comes back towards you, it retracts back into the handle.. pretty slick feature... or so you think. 

Why the strange dislike of such an incredible invention?   If you really want to know, keep reading.   If not, maybe go check your facebook page, or do some online shopping.

 Most dogs are not under control.  At all.  So, giving them 30 odd FEET of leash, instead of the average 6, really doesn't work too well.  We have dogs come into our clinic on them all the time .  The dogs run everywhere, behind the counter, up to other dogs, etc.  No control, at all.  When I taught puppy class, people tried to use them to train their dogs.  Really?  We finally had to ban them from class.  It just wasn't working.

But, they have a LOCK on them, you say!!  A LOCK! So the dog doesn't have to have the full 30 feet!  Yeah, no one I know uses that lock.  In fact, when I am trying to avert a dogfight after being handed one of these leashes, I've locked them for the client, who then acts very offended that their baby cannot get any freedom when I do that.  It's immediately unlocked.  Who cares if your 8 month old Pug just ran up to a very large Pit Bull mix who doesn't like other dogs??  He needs his freedom!

At the very least I'd like to put a limit on the amount of retractable leashes one person can handle at a time.  I'd like that limit to be ONE (1).  We have one client who brings in 3.. wow, that's a handful.  She's actually one of the best retractable leash wranglers we see, but still there are some times when the dogs are so tangled up, it takes a while for us to get them separated. 

Dogs also get loose alot on these leashes.  They learn how to run as fast as they can to the end of them, then the large handle pops out of the unsuspecting owner's hand and it goes flying.  Then we have a dog running with a large plastic leash handle bang, bang, banging behind them, which makes them run all the faster. 

The other problem with these gems, and the reason I feel a class is in order to own one, is a simple one.  These leashes only retract if the dog actually comes  towards you.  If you in fact want your dog to come away from whatever danger the dog has decided to visit while on his leash, you have to get them to come to you.  So you have to walk towards the dog, and lock it, then walk towards them and lock it, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It's kind like reeling in a fish, but harder.  The average person has no concept of how to do this, so it never goes well.  It's hard enough to do this with one dog, but try doing it with two or three unruly dogs.  Now, that's entertaining.

Ever had a rope burn?  Well, see what happens if you (or worse yet, your child) grabs on to the cord part of the leash as the dog takes off.  Ouch.  Unsteady on your feet?  Some dogs will wrap the leash around and around their owners legs, and we have to help them out of it.  It's a sure fire way to break a hip, so please don't let Grandma use one.  They also tangle in dog's legs.  It's a great way for them to get hurt as well.

I have hated these leashes for a very long time, but recently J was told a story that made me swear them off forever.  She met a person who had actually lost part of their finger to a retractable leash.  She somehow got her finger tangled in the cord, and her very large Lab took off after something, and  part of her finger actually was pulled off!!  Yikes, that is insane! 

Yes, I know the main company known for making these leashes no longer uses the cord, and now have a "tape" type leash instead.  I wonder just how many people lost their fingers before that happened?  Pretty scary. 

Don't be offended by this post if you have no problems with your retractable leash and think it's the best thing since sliced bread, it just means your dog is actually trained.  I just don't get to see trained dogs very often.  This is possibly why I am so bitter.  I bet I'll find some readers that agree with me. 


  1. "I bet I'll find some readers that agree with me."


    Also, check your local law. Most communities call for a dog being walked to be under control, and on a maximum 6 foot leash.

    Those retractables? Illegal unless they are locked to a 6 foot length.

  2. I've never been a big fan of retractables either, just putting in my 2 cents. There are also a lot of places they're not allowed, such as pet therapy. I'm uncoordinated on my own! I don't need any help! ;)

  3. first time commenting here to say: I HATE RETRACTABLE LEASHES! I work in a pet shop and I can't count the number of times I've had to crawl underneath shelves to untangle a leash and remove a dog. I tell people to lock the damn thing or buy a proper leash!

  4. Soooooo agreed. people have NO common sense and dogs have no manners. I still remember one time taking 3, yes 3 of my own dogs into the vet and having to wait to even come in the door because some lady had her ill behaved fuzzbucket 15 feet away from as all mine were waiting patiently on their appropriate 6 foot leashes. geebish cripes

  5. Disagree very much, my dog is very much under control by me and i wish i could get a longer leash for him. The biggest i can find is 26 feet. I get there may be idiots that have them but i am not one and i don't think a ban is fair for responsible dog owners like myself.

  6. Thanks for the comment, Keith. I don't have anything against responsible flexi lead handlers! :)

  7. I DESPISE THOSE RETRACTABLE ROPES FROM HELL ! SERIOUSLY. I have had the handle get out of hand and then as it retracts the dog freaks and runs while the handle chases him. MIL was walking multiple German short hairs got several tangled, wrapped around her legs and pulled her down to the ground in seconds. She was so bruised and sore.