Real talk? Finding the right leash for your dog is as complicated as finding the right bra. Size, fit, comfort, and use are all factors that need to be considered, for both your safety and your dog’s. In our Amazon.com era, we now have more choices than ever before: basic leash, retractable leash, bungee leash, long line, and slip lead. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but today will focus on the (arguably) most popular type of leash – the retractable.
The concept is simple. A retractable leash is a cord wound onto a spring-loaded device inside a plastic holder. The spring allows the cord to wind and unwind as your dog moves closer and farther away from you. There is also a button on the plastic holder that allows the walker to control how far the cord can extend. This design is intended to increase your dog’s ability to explore with varying limits of distance and control, and is, therefore, ideal and convenient for wide open spaces such as large parks.
Exploration? Good. Flexibility? Good. Button control? Good. So what’s not to love? Well, unfortunately, a lot of things. Some might argue too many things. The retractable leash’s design can be dangerous for two primary reasons:
Retractable leashes limit your control over the dog’s movements, which could result in serious injury or fatal accident. For example, let’s say you’re walking in the park and Lassie catches a whiff of a cat, squirrel, or postman. He darts off in frenzy, and with his retractable leash he can run farther and faster than he otherwise could on a basic six-foot leash. This could (and likely would) expose him to the dangers of oncoming traffic, aggressive dogs, and getting lost. If you insist on using a retractable leash, you must be incredibly alert and focused at all times. Remember that cords do not reel in as quickly as we would like.
Allows the leash’s tight cord to more easily get caught on you, your dog, and any other person and dog you encounter on walk. Rope burns, cuts, bruises, strangulation, and tripping are not uncommon with the use of retractable leashes. There is a very big difference between a 20-foot retractable leash and a 6-foot basic leash wrapping around you or your dog’s limbs.
What kind of leash do you use and why? How do you feel about retractable leashes? Sound off in the comments below!
Make sure to check out our blog on Puppy Socialization!