Serious Concerns about the Use of Dog Retractable Leashes.
In our last article, we weighed out the differences between a dog collar and a harness. We received a lot of feedback about the retractable leashes, so we thought it would be worthwhile to pass along some serious concerns about the use of retractable leashes. This topic seems to stir controversy just a tad. Some dog owners love them, and some have had horrific experiences with them. Sure it’s nice to be able to let your dog get some distance and feel free, but his freedom and fun might turn into a catastrophe. There is plenty of evidence in Google Search to validate the serious concerns about the use of retractable leashes.
As always, it’s important to know your dog. I use a retractable for my Lab when we go to the local lake for a swim. This is the only time I have Levi on a retractable leash, and we are always in training mode. In other words, there is constant interaction, and we keep Levi’s focus on us. Full engagement. In my situation, I have a lab that is highly reactive. He doesn’t play nice with others so when he’s leashed it’s a harness and a short leash for constant control. At the end of the summer when the weather is getting cooler and the people aren’t lakeside, we take him out for a swim to burn energy and cool off. The retractable leash gives him some swimming space and distance to catch a ball out in the water. We are very diligent. We keep the leash tight so he doesn’t get caught up in it, and as he swims in the leash is shortened so when he gets his paws on the ground, we can maintain control. We also keep him harnessed and a second person ready with a short leash should another person with another dog show up. Again, know your dog. We only use the leash for swims, and we are very aware of his reactive behavior, so once he’s out of the water the shorter leash is attached right away. So even though the facts show that the retractable leashes are dangerous, they could have a place when used diligently. Cesar Milan says that “the retractable leash was originally designed as a tracking and recall training tool.” He also states that if you don’t understand how to use them, then you probably shouldn’t. Remaining diligent and fully aware is an important aspect when it comes to serious concerns about the use of retractable leashes.
The list of bodily injuries reported ranged from small bruises and road rash to more serious injuries like broken fingers, and dislocated shoulders. Not to mention dog fatalities, the biggest involving dogs getting into traffic.
Here is the biggest issue with the retractable leash, the further your dog moves away from you the less control you have. To add to that, the further the leash goes out, the more momentum your dog has the ability to establish. No need to calculate but when reflecting back to high school physics, using “force equals mass times acceleration, “ you don’t have to have a big dog to create high velocity. Should your dog make an unforeseen redirect, the length of the leash extended becomes a dangerous hazard. It can wrap around you, your dog, or an innocent bi-standard. Not only wrapping you up, but depending on the size and speed of your dog, once the leash pulls tight, you are receiving all of the momentum. Should the extended leash reach full velocity and it’s wrapped around your legs, you're going down. If you don’t let the leash go, the potential for hand and shoulder damage is real. If you react and let go, your dog and whatever he’s fixated on could be in great danger as well. The idea of the freedom of an extended leash has its appeal. But the exact appeal in giving your dog a taste of freedom could turn into a very dangerous situation. The longer the leash, the less control. And the longer the leash the more momentum your dog has to gain before something gives at your end or his. The freedom and the length of the retractable dog leash cause serious concerns about the use of retractable leashes.
Up next in the reported accidents is typically unforeseen to most pet owners. It’s unfortunate that in order for us to understand it, many had to experience it. It’s reported that in cases when the owner accidentally dropped the handheld retractor, the dog was spooked to bolt forward. The plastic retractor then makes a more horrific noise and the dogs run off in a full panic. As you can imagine, a scared dog running free with an extended leash trailing behind is not going to end well. The dog is in peak anxiety of fight or flight and the danger of him running into traffic is real. Add to that the length of leash trailing could snag on an object and when the leash pulls tight, well let’s just say I hope the dog attached is in a harness. An accidentally dropped retractable handle is a serious concern when using a retractable dog leash.
Ok, I know what some of you small dog owners are thinking because I’m seeing the comments online. I’m safe, my dog isn’t reactive, doesn’t weigh much, and has small legs so he or she can’t go that fast. Here’s another devastating fact we found. There are many tragic stories about small dogs on retractable leashes too. Again, the longer the leash the less control you have. In these reported situations, it’s not the dog on the leash that becomes the danger. It’s the dog not on the leash. Reports state that while an owner had their dog on a retractable leash, another dog approached, and the owner couldn’t regain control of the situation. Sadly this situation doesn’t end well either. The inability to protect your dog from a dog fight is another serious concern when using a retractable dog leash.
Other reported accidents happen when the retractable leash doesn’t lock when triggered. Even an innocent situation can turn harmful. Reports of leashed dogs, excitedly running to greet on comers, are not stopped by the lock feature in the handheld by their owners. You don’t have to have a big dog for this scenario to cause injury to a child, an elderly person, or anyone that is caught off guard. Broken leash locks are a serious concern when it comes to retractable leashes.
Here are a few more serious concerns about the use of retractable leashes. There are many reports of cuts, and rope burns. Again the same appeal in the length and freedom your dog has when using a retractable leash becomes the catalyst for the accident waiting to happen. Because the retractable leash offers your dog the ability to move further away from you, the length of the rope and the speed of your dog equals a fast-moving rope rubbing quickly across the skin. Cuts and rope burns are another serious concern when using a retractable dog leash. I think it's safe to say that even the manufacturer of retractable dog leashes is aware of the dangers. Lookup any brand and the risks and caution sections typically out content the advertisements sales pitch.
Let’s put injury topics aside, using a retractable dog leash could be teaching your dog bad leash manners. If you start to notice that your dog has started to pull on the retractable, even though he’s been fully leash trained not to, the pull of the retractor is teaching your dog to pull. You might need to go back to leash training again.
So to sum things up I think it’s safe to say that using a retractable dog leash when you are providing full-on connections with your dog is acceptable. You should consider your walks with your dog more like a training session and remain fully engaged at all times. But if you want a leisure experience to take in a beautiful day and zone out while Fido does the same, I’d think twice. Popular belief, after many injuries to both dog and owner, alien with Cesar Milan, keep the retractable leash for training and utilize safer tether when out in places a dog could react to outside stimuli, or outside influences could put them in danger. We hope this article helps you to understand the serious concern when using a retractable dog leash.