When is it Okay to Use a Retractable Leash? - McCann Professional Dog Trainers

When is it Okay to Use a Retractable Leash?

Retractable leashes are a modern invention designed to give a dog freedom, while still maintaining the security of being tethered. These leashes have gotten a bad rap lately, and often it is with good reason due to incorrect use.

I was recently waiting for an appointment at a vet clinic and was tied up in a Shih Tzu's extendable leash. A busy veterinarian's waiting room is not the right place for an extendible leash to be unlocked. Often, people get too comfortable with the idea of controlled freedom. It's important to be selective, careful and safe while using this tool.


Reasons not to use retractable leashes

Retractable Leashes Allow Dogs Too Much Freedom

Some retractable leashes extend close to 30 feet. This means your dog could be 30 feet away and if the need arises for control, it can be hard to attain. They can become easily tangled in things like trees and bushes, people, children or other dogs. If the dogs are not friendly, a very dangerous situation could occur due to the likelihood of the dogs becoming entangled in the lead.

Retractable Leashes are Made with Potentially Dangerous Material

The material that makes up the extendable leash is thin and usually nylon. This can snap if there is enough pressure applied. An unruly or untrained dog can make short work of a retractable leash by lunging while on it. In addition, nylon can cause rope burns. If you try to grab the leash as the dog is on the move, you're likely to get a nasty burn quickly. There is also the risk of another person or dog getting a rope burn if they get tangled while the dog is moving.

Retractable Leash Handles are Big and Clunky

The handles of retractable leashes are big and awkward. If they are pulled out of your hands, which often happens, it will bounce along behind the dog. This can cause the dog to panic and run, which could result in them becoming injured or lost.


Retractable Leashes Can Teach Dogs to Pull

Because there is always tension on a retractable leash, they actually teach dogs to pull. This is very counter productive and can work against your training program.

When is it Okay to Use a Retractable Leash?

Wide Open, Empty Spaces are Great Places for Retractable Leashes

There are definitely situations where an extendible leash is a fantastic and fun tool to use. If you are at a quiet park, for example, and wish to give you dog a bit more freedom, take out the retractable leash and use it to maintain control. If there are other dogs, people or children at the park, keep control of your dog using a 6 foot leash. That way, you can keep your dog with you rather than chancing they interfere with the other beings enjoying the park.

The Beach Can Be a Great Place for a Retractable Leash

A quiet beach can be a joy to any dog. Giving them more freedom can be great fun and exercise and can help them learn to swim while keeping them safe.

A Retractable Leash can Help in an Unfenced Yard

If you have an unfenced yard and a young pup who doesn't have a recall yet, this can be a good application for the extendable leash. Do be sure there are not things that your pup can get tangled in and also be certain that you are always holding the handle of the leash. Dogs should never be tied out using an extendable leash.

We hope this will help you decide when it is appropriate to give your dog the extra freedom that a retractable leash provides while keeping them safe. Remember that a retractable leash can be a great tool to use with a well trained dog. Also, keep in mind that it can be locked to keep better control of the extra freedom your dog can take advantage of. Be selective with the environments and situations where you use retractable leashes and they can be very advantages to your dog outings.

Happy Training

Hi! I'm Shannon Viljasoo and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.


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