Why dog trainers never recommend retractable leashes (flexi leads)
Any dog trainer worth their salt will never recommend one of those horrible, dangerous retractable leads. You may even go to a class and politely asked to use a different leash, or even given a lecture on why they are so bad!
I always try to steer my students away from these monstrous pieces of equipment. Mostly because I have seen, and experienced, the horribly painful burns these things can cause, but also because there are just better alternatives out there.
Why are they so bad?
As mentioned above the injuries are horrific and painful, for both humans and dogs. From burns to amputations, it is just not worth it.
- Fingers – since the leash is often just a cord or thin line, grabbing it in an emergency can lead to a burn, deep cut or fracture.
- Wrapping around the body– if the dog is allowed to greet another dog or the lead is fully extended and remains locked, the cord can become wrapped around a person or dog.
- Falls – The dog can get a good run going before reaching the end of the lead. At that speed the dog may well be able to pull the owner over.
- Eyes and face – If the cord snaps, it may fire back into the owners eyes or face causing damage.
Reasons to NOT use a retractable leash
There is no control – This is one of the biggest factors for me, apart from the injuries. There is just zero control of a dog at a distance of 26 feet, especially when walking the streets. What if the dog darts in front of the road? Decides to chase a cat or squirrel? Meets another dog around a corner? An owner has no control and the only option is to grab the lead and pull back, injuring yourself!
Walking nicely on the lead – How is a dog expected to stay close, pay attention, and walk nicely on the lead when they are allowed a freedom of 26 feet? The leash is constantly tight, which is telling the dog that he can pull to go further away. I don’t know about you but I want my dog by my side and checking in with me every now and then.
Approaching other dogs – Not every dog likes to greet your dog, allowing an approach on a retractable lead is a disaster waiting to happen. You cannot guide your dog away from an aggressive dog with a retractable lead. And even if the dogs do want to play, they will easily get tangled while checking each other out.
The lead can break – it is only a thin cord to start with, and if a strong dog is constantly pulling at the end of it, it is inevitable that it will snap at some point. Then the dog is free to run across the road or cause injury to you.
You can lose grip – especially if you have tiny hands like me! Those big, cumbersome leashes can easily fly out of your hand if the dog pulls unexpectedly.
Sudden jerks to the neck – if the dog is just on a collar, reaching the end of the lead can result in a jerk to the neck if they are unprepared for the limitations of the leash.
Dropping the lead – if the dog pulls the leash out of hand, the resulting sound of the leash crashing onto the ground can startle a dog and cause him to take off running.
Avoid at all costs
I guess the main line of thinking is if that they are on sale then they must be ok to use… but then again so are prong collars and other harmful ‘tools’. To be completely honest, I actively avoid any dog on a retractable leash when out on a walk. For me they are too unpredictable and out of control and I definitely make sure that I am at least 28 feet away from them!
Please ditch the flexi leads and teach your dog to walk properly, on a real lead. These Halti leads are my personal favourite, double ended and padded for comfort. Perfect!