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Why Retractable Leashes Can Be Bad

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Retractable Leash
Retractable Leash

Why Retractable Leashes Can Be Bad

Retractable leashes are extremely popular. They allow your fast walking pooch to roam which can sound like a nice thing… but have you considered the dangers? I asked Fine Line Family K-9, a popular Palm Beach County Dog Training company, what they thought about the issue. “Retractable leashes are bad because they teach a dog to pull on the leash and walk in front of you, which turns into a bad owner/dog relationship. When a dog walks in front of you, they are claiming the alpha position of the household and this can lead to bad behaviour in general.”

Without further ado, I have compiled a list of a few reasons why you should consider leaving your retractable leashes at home and opt for a standard 6ft leash instead. 


Retractable leashes have a thin rope or cord that has been known to cause severe burns, cuts, entanglements and even strangulations of dogs. They’ve also caused amputations of limbs and fingers for both humans and animals. When you’re at an event with people and dogs, the risk of entanglement is greatly increased and tangled dogs can be more fearful and unpredictable. Fearful dogs are a loose cannon and can quickly escalate to aggressive behavior towards humans and animals alike. Not to mention that if Grandma gets wrapped up in the cord, she may fall and break a hip!


Many dogs will run if they are spooked or if they happen to see another animal to chase. This can cause the leash to suddenly jolt and fly out of your hand. If the leash is dropped the plastic handle bangs around on the ground and spooks the dog, leading them to believe that they are being chased, so they continue to run in fear.  The mechanics that make the leash stop also wear out overtime and could end up not working at all in a life or death situation. If either of those happen, your dog could end up running right in front of a vehicle or to another dog who could be aggressive. 


In more confined or crowded spaces, such as veterinary offices or pet events, dogs are at a much higher risk of having unwanted or disastrous encounters with another animal. When dogs are in new environments they can become stressed and overstimulated. An overstimulated dog can often just look like they are very hyper and the owner may not be aware of the stress building in the dog. Keep in mind all dogs are not the same and not all dogs like each other. Allowing too much freedom to roam with a retractable leash could lead to dogs reacting badly and hurting one another. In these situations it’s best to use a standard 6ft leash that will give you instant control over the situation. 


As Fine Line Family K-9 mentioned above, retractable leashes encourage your dog to pull on the leash and walk in front of you. If you want to be the pack leader in your house, and your dog currently walks in front of you on your outings, then they are really the pack leader or alpha. When your dog is alpha in the house, this can lead to other bad behaviours because they do not respect you as alpha. The good news is, this can be fixed! Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional dog trainer to help, there is still hope of becoming the pack leader once again!

There is however a time and a place for retractable leashes, but the list is very small. One such example is to train solid recall on a dog who already has very good basic training down pat. However you can opt for a long training leash instead and avoid the temptation to use the retractable leash all together. 


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