Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dog Safety While Walking – Retractable leashes?

I noticed the other day a young woman walking her two labs. She had them on two retractable leashes and was having troubles controlling her dogs. Especially when they hit the smells of my dogs in front of my house. They pushed and pulled her in an effort to get as many smells in that they could. The leashes wrapped around her and she fell to the ground.

I have always thought that retractable leashes were very dangerous. These leashes provide no control over dogs at all. The idea behind these leashes is to allow dogs to move ahead of their owners with great distance. But one must ask “who really is the leash retracting?” The owner. When your dog(s) is face with another dogs(s) for example, the owner has no control over their dogs(s) they are too far ahead and these types of leashes are not strong enough to pull the dogs(s) back. So if any issue arises you better learn to run fast to avoid any type of situation where you dog(s) may get hurt.

Take another situation. Your dog(s) sees something that they want to chase. They run after it and before you know it your dog(s) are in the street, putting them in danger of being hit by a car etc.

In my opinion if you really want to be in control you must stop using such a device. In reality you have no control over your dog(s), which puts you and the dog(s) at great risk.

Remember walking a dog(s) with a short, stronger leash still achieves the goal of providing exercise for both you and your dog(s). Safety first is used quite frequently in a variety of social circumstance and that mantra should be applied here as well.

As always I appreciate your comments and thoughts.

35 comments:

Fisher said...

Very nice new site! I live in a downtown area with lots of dogs and fortunately have not seen any of them on retractable leashes. After reading your article, I am happy about that!

360Admin said...

This is a great article. I had a horrible experience with a retractable leash that I would like to share. My beagle has a strong sense of smell, as they all do and one day he got a whiff of something and took off. Before I could react he came to the end of that retractable leash going full speed. To my horror he did an entire 180 degree violent turn and fell in pain. His back and neck have never been the same and over the years has been treated for back issues many times. This is just one more reason to add to your list of why these can be very dangerous leashes. Thanks.

Julia - @dfwpets / CLASP (Cowtown Loves Animal Shelter Pets)

Anonymous said...

I just wish people would learn how to use them period. I wish they were banned as they are a hazard not only to the dog but to anyone who comes in contact with them.

I had my 9 year old daughter have line burns from someone else's dog's allowed to spin around her and then try to take off. I have seen them almost hit by cars, I have seen them allowed to run up in the face of other dogs and the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

We advise against retractable leashes all the time. They are (and should be) prohibited at most pet events. People think they are the exception and they will always be able to control their dog. Funny what advice people will accept and what they'll refuse to believe. I wonder how they decide what an expert knows and what they don't.

Top Dog Marketing Group said...

When my German Shepherd-Black Lab dog was a puppy and I was younger and ignorant of how to properly walk a dog, I used a retractable leash. Until, that is, my puppy got the leash tangled around its hind leg and then tried to dash off to catch up to some children running. The line went taught and my puppy yelped and fell to the ground, it's leg dislocated at the knee. She is fine today, but it was a horrifying experience then and an ordeal getting her to the vet and healed—and a very harsh lesson learned: retractable leashes are just plain dangerous.

Top Dog Marketing Group

Tony said...

I think it comes down to people knowing how to control their dog.
Ones dog should never ever be leading on a walk. That dog should be at the handlers side.

Tony
www.petmedpros.com

Annalissa Johnson said...

I couldn't agree more!! Just last week I saw someone walking their dog with a halti on a retractable leash, with the dog leading her (of course) I just shook my head in disbelief.

campingdog@earthlink.net said...

I have never been a fan of retractable leashes. For one thing, the nature of the leash teaches a dog to pull - that's how they get more length - which is the last thing that is a good idea to have a dog figure out.

I carry several different kinds of leashes on my website (http://campingdogsupplies.com) and will not ever carry a retractable type. They develop bad habits on the part of the dog and allow the human to be very, very lazy and not take control of the walks.

I've watched more small dogs drag around their owner because their humans have never bothered to learn how to walk a dog. I think they're dangerous in many ways and won't ever sell them. I know lots of people like them, but I definitely don't.

Dave Eggers said...

As a dog trainer I think it's the worst leash you can use. Most people can't control their dog standing next to them why would they think giving the dog a 20 foot head start is the answer to better control.
And Tony's comment about the dog should be at the owners side is not the right answer. Wow a pet med guy giving dog training advice.lol
www.therocknrolldogtrainer.com

Anonymous said...

They can also be dangerous to other dogs... they don't see them and might get tangled in them, making a very dangerous situation if two dogs are interacting on leash.

Maltese Cross said...

Good article. When I was preparing to adopt a Greyhound, I read many articles about the dangers of retractable leashes. As another poster mentioned, they easily slip out of the hand...resulting in a dog running scared as the handle bounces and hits them from behind.

Sarah McKillip said...

Good post. I have 3 dogs, the only time I use a retractable leash is when my little one goes out to the bathroom (in my fenced in yard, he can sneak out of any yard!) I will not use a retractable leash to take my dogs for walks. There are too many unpredictable factors when you take your dog for a walk, and I like to be able to have control over the situation and keep them safe, for me at least I feel the only real way to keep them close to you and safe is on a regular leash

Chris Rufkhar said...

As someone who works in a kennel, I HATE THESE THINGS! People bring their dogs in on them and they can't control them and we end up dealing with chaos and mayhem in the lobby!

Back before I had studied much about being a dog owner, I actually used one. My dog took off after another dog and I grabbed the cord. I burned the heck out of my hand. Served me right for not doing my research!!!

Lana Bunch said...

I prefer a regular leash for my own doggies. I have large doggies (100lbs+) and just feel more comfortable with something that feels more sturdy. And one of my dogs likes to pull if he spots a deer. I feel that a retractable might get pulled out of my hand during one of those moments or the leash itself might snap (I have seen that happen to someone trying to control a large dog with one).

Having said that, I have used many retractable leashes as former pet sitter. Many of my clients had them, and so I used them while sitting for their pets and did so without any problems. If you have a well trained dog and know how to use a retractable leash, it works fine. If you have to walk a difficult dog or dog learning to walk on the leash, especially large ones, it may not be the best leash. And it is a leash that you have to learn to use correctly, and safely as pointed out in this thread. Unfortunately, I've seen too many folks use them incorrectly as well. I probably would not recommend a retractable to most people.

But we all have our own preferences when it comes to leashes, I think the important thing is getting the info out about proper usage and safety and that goes for all types of leashes and collars for that matter.

Maria Gomez said...

One other thing to add here is that it gives the dog the notion that he is the one in control here, which, from a behavioral standpoint, should NOT be the case. The owner is the one who should be showing authority, not the dog. Thank you for putting the article out there. It needs to be said. I wish they would ban those flexi-leashes--there is nothing positive about them, in my opinion

Jeri Wilson said...

Oh, just because "people misusing them in situations that are potentially unsafe"..... "they should be taken off the market." I have seen people misusing automobiles in situations that are potentially unsafe. Should automobiles be taken off the market?

Let's place the blame where it belongs, on the user not on the object in use.

BTW, I don't often use a retractable so I'm not particularly an advocate for the object. I just object to the mentality that if something is deemed in certain situations to be unsafe, then it should be eliminated. I also object to the mentality that if I'm too stupid to use something correctly, then someone should remove it from my grasp. Let's have some individual responsibility here. No one is forcing anyone to buy or use these leashes.

Beth Minik said...

I stopped using a retractable leash the day that my dog was startled by something and jerked the handle right out of my hand. Then, she was so afraid of the handle chasing her that she ran out into the road and down the street. The only way that she was caught was because she ran up someone's driveway and the handle got stuck under the man's tire of his parked car. She only weighed 20 lbs. but there was no way I could hold onto that handle when she was surprized that way. I guess I should have been hanging on for dear life for our whole walk, doesn't sound very relaxing to me!

Tammy Cobb - General Manager Fetch said...

I walk several dogs using retractable leashes and do not have a problem with them. They provide versatility because I can shorten and lock them as needed, and I can also allow the dogs to explore areas that I'd rather not go. I like that retractable leashes keep taut because when I use a regular leash I often have to stop to pull it out from under the dog who has stepped over it and started tripping. I agree that retractable leashes can be very dangerous (lack of control, "rope" burns, risk of amputation, etc.) and need to be used prudently, but I would never give up mine.

Linda Wasche said...

I will never forget the site of the tiny - I believe it was a lhasa - being picked up by the neck and shaken by a much larger dog at the Best Friends adoption event out in LA. The lhasa had been on a retractable leash and was an easy target for the larger dog. The last I saw her, the owner was carrying her seizuring to a vet who was set up there. This happened in a split second, without warning, about 8 feet away from me. Every time I see a dog on one of these leashes, I share this story with the owner. Sometimes well received, sometimes not. This weekend in Chicago at the Great American Pet Expo, a guy was letting his chihuahua follow him with NO leash. I plead my case, but no effect. These leashes should be taken off the market.

Lola McKnight said...

Retractable leashes are terrible devices and worthless imo. I personally don't know any dog trainers who approve of them. I ALWAYS see people misusing them in situations that are potentially unsafe because the dog is usually completely out of the person's control. In fact, I can honestly say that I've never seen a retractable used in a way that validates their usefulness. Frankly, I think they should be taken off the market!
Thanks for bringing up the topic!

Hollie Floen said...

Personally, I've never liked retractable leashes for lots of reasons, which is why I don't sell them on my site. For one thing, retractable leashes teach dogs to pull, since that is how they get a longer leash. There are other leashes I like much better both for training purposes and for general walking purposes.

Jeri Wilson said...

OMG, I have never seen anyone use a retractable leash in this manner. I can't even think why anyone would. Instead of advising people to STOP using the device, why not inform them of the CORRECT way to use it. Besides if the woman in your scenario were using 6 ft leashes, she might have let herself get tangled up with those too. Sounds like she needs some instruction on how to walk with two energetic dogs.

You also mention the retractable leashes are not strong enough to pull the dog back. If that is the case, the handler is using the wrong type of leash. The retractables do have different sizes and strengths. I prefer the larger ones for stronger dogs that have a tape rather than something that resembles a cord.

Tammy Perkins said...

I thought that was very informative. I did not realize the safety issue. Luckly I do not have a retractable leash, but I will pass on this information.

Top Dog Marketing Group said...

When my German Shepherd-Black Lab dog was a puppy and I was younger and ignorant of how to properly walk a dog, I used a retractable leash. Until, that is, my puppy got the leash tangled around its hind leg and then tried to dash off to catch up to some children running. The line went taught and my puppy yelped and fell to the ground, it's leg dislocated at the knee. She is fine today, but it was a horrifying experience then and an ordeal getting her to the vet and healed—and a very harsh lesson learned: retractable leashes are just plain dangerous.

Sari Reis said...

I am a professional dog walker and for me the safety of the dogs in my care is paramount. I agree that the retactable leashes are very dangerous. Not only for the reasons already stated but many dogs will try to eat "stuff" that smells good to them. This is never a good idea and cannot only make the dog very ill but cvan also cause a choking hazzard. On a short leash you can see what the dog is approaching and move them away from a "temptation". On a long retractable leash the dog could have found something and swallowed it before you are even awarre of it. Control and management is what it is all about if you are going to keep your dog safe!

Dynadobe said...

I have used retractable leashes for at least 15 years and love them! There is a time and place for them, and the owner must know how to use these correctly. We use them when we go camping for walks out in meadows and such. The dog MUST be reliable in stays and recalls. They are excellent for teaching recalls, as the dog doesn't trip over a long line coming in to you. A dog that is out of control on a flexi is probably out of control on a shorter leash as well. No matter what the length of the leash is, if the dog takes off on you, you're going to have a problem. My hands are very small, and I have arthritis. I bought a 'strap' that attaches to the handle of the flexi and I put my hand through that so I can't drop the Flexi. My old cord flexi had a handle that was easier to grip than the new belt flexi I bought. The strap/loop is great!

Becky Starr said...

Yippie for you!
they should outlaw retractable leashes...
the stories go on and on and on, with the injuries and dangers of using these leases....if people want to use them in the middle of the desert or a remote area where they are alone and want them to run, perhaps...
but noone should use these devices, my personal opinion

Ann Sires said...

I tell people when I train them and their dogs that the only thing that retractable leashed do is train the dog to pull. Unless you have a sled dog and want one, that is what you'll get!

Donna Poyner said...

I threw out my retractable leashes a long, long time ago for these exact reasons! A harness and regular leash give you more control and the dog knows who is in charge. I wish they'd quit selling the retractable leash - they're expensive and worthless!

Chris L Wagner said...

I'm a pet sitter and usually use the shorter leashes. However I have used the retractable ones and have had burns on my legs and dogs getting tangled up in the leash lines. One time I was walking a young lab and he bolted off to run after a dog behind a fence and the leash snapped and he was free! Thank God I was in a residential area and no cars were around. If that had been in a busy city, he would have been killed for sure.

TXgirls_RFun said...

Retractable are only good if you are taking them out for a poo or two... It helps mine, he does not like someone next to him while he poos.

Other than that Use a Leash. Retractable if you are not moving, or if you are alone taking your pups out only. :)

Peggy Kennedy said...

I am a dog walker and can't stand retractable leashes. I always have spare leashes and even collars in my car for the clients who have only retractable leashes available as an option. Occasionally I will use them with some small, old, slow dogs who don't take advantage of the retractable leash. If for some reason it is my only option, I will lock the leash to a reasonable length in an effort to keep the dog close to me. I have read some horrible stories about the bad things that can happen with these leashes- including getting wrapped around a puppy's leg and causing several thousands of dollars worth of surgery. I almost wish these leashes would be completely removed from the stores.

Dawn Karen said...

I use many types of leash systems depending on the dog but the retractable is never, never one of them. It's far too dangerous, no control for the owner, no direction for the dog.

Crazie Eddie said...

No control, danger to dog and human, easily broken and too easy to loose your grip - retractable leashes are a good idea that just don't work....

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