Why Flexible or Retractable Leashes are so Dangerous; and Why I Hate Them

Thanks Dogs in Need of Space for the Photo

Thanks Dogs in Need of Space for the Photo

Okay, okay so HATE is a strong word but it is very fitting for me most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a few of them around this house somewhere but most people misuse a flexi or retractable leash.

AND would it surprise you to know that I have seen broken arms and torn rotator cuffs that need surgery because of them?

Unless you have almost perfect control they can be very dangerous.

And yet, some of my clients refuse to stop using them no matter the damage.

So Let’s Break it Down

Why Do People Like and Use Them?

They seem easy.

A lot of people don’t want to make the extra effort to give their dog more exercise.  Think about it, as the dog zips back and forth he is getting twice or more the physical exercise of his owner.

Taking him off of the retractable leash would mean the owner would have to go a little farther or engage the dog with more mental stimulation.

And, I think people get stuck in bad habits.

Why Your Dog Likes Them?

He gets to zip around uncontrollably.

He run’s in he runs out and he zips all over the place, and you have very little control.

Do you think you really have control when your dog is 20 feet away from you?

Why They Are Dangerous!

Thanks Leash Your Fitness for the Photo.  This is just what my burn looked like

Thanks Leash Your Fitness for the Photo. This is just what my burn looked like

As mentioned above… Do you really think you have control when your dog is 20 feet or more away from you?

Let’s say you have a 25 foot retractable leash and your dog is 20 feet from you with a little slack in the  leash; then he sees a squirrel or another dog and bolts toward it with all of his might.

Do you think you could see the squirrel first when your dog is 20 feet away?

How many seconds do you suppose you have before your shoulder, arm, and back get severely jarred by your dog running 5 feet then hitting 20 feet of line?

Now picture your dog is on a 6 foot leash and is only out about a foot when he sees a squirrel.

Do you think you could spot the squirrel that was 5 feet away?  Your odds are significantly better.

Think you would have time to brace yourself before the impact and do you think it would injure you as badly?

5 feet of running on a 20 foot line can significantly injure you!  Can you imagine if it was 15 feet of running or more?

I knew one woman with German Shepherd Dogs that literally broke her arm because they hit the end of a retractable leash so hard and the impact then violently pulled her to the ground; and she still didn’t let go (fearing they would be run over) so she was then dragged several hundred feet before they came to a stop.

I don’t think they could have done that on a regular leash.  They could have pulled, but not inflicted that kind of damage.

My own mother had her rotator cuff torn by her Akita out on a leisurely walk in the park, when another dog came out of nowhere.

And, I have a 5 inch scar across my leg from the line of a retractable leash as the dog zipped out and the owner couldn’t stop it the line of the leash burned my leg, and it hurt for weeks!  Burns can sometimes be the WORST

For Training

Thanks Mad Mikes America for the Photo

Thanks Mad Mikes America for the Photo

And, I dislike them for training because I think they are unfair.

Your dog never knows if he has 4 feet of leash, or 10 feet of leash, or 20 feet of leash.

The reason my dogs are so successful with their obedience training is because in the beginning the leash is always the same length (6 feet) and they learn they can’t pull me or they won’t be effective and get to where they want to go.

I have owners ask me “What if I just leave it locked at 6 ft” and hypothetically I suppose that would be “okay” but I think the average retractable leash is difficult to maneuver and cumbersome.

I personally like a soft leather or fake leather leash that is soft on my hands and I can then also place treats and a clicker in there.  I think that would nearly be impossible with a retractable leash.

Need help teaching your dog to walk nicely on leash?  Click here for Leash Manners 

When Do I Use My Retractable Leashes?

I only use them when I am in a large field that I can see in all directions and for potty purposes; so usually that means when I am away from home on vacation.

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  1. Harley says:

    Great post, I agree that using this kind of leash is dangerous, both for the dog and their owners, the only case for using a longer lead is when training your dog to come in open areas like a park. Thanks for sharing


  2. Shannon says:

    I use my flexible leash in unfenced areas that would usually be off leash areas, simply because I don’t feel secure about her being off leash and my dog enjoys the freedom so the flexible leash provides a good alternative. I definitely would never let her near the road while on it, or take her for walks on it, or interact with other dogs while it is extended.


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