Retractable Dog Leashes: The Pros and Cons

By Kim Casey, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Kim is a huge animal lover and proud owner of two labs. Kim is also an Internet marketer and works closely with The Beach Dog Daycare in Newburyport. She enjoys writing and researching combined with blogging. She is an independent marketer and is self-employed but being an animal lover The Beach Dog Daycare is one of her favorite clients.
The Beach Dog Doggie Day Care
Retractable dog leash, Newbury, MA

Let’s talk about the Pros and Cons of retractable dog leashes. Some love the freedom it offers their pets, but some have seen some serious accidents and have sworn them off for good. The appeal is obvious, the retractable leash gives you and your dog a bit of freedom and space while maintaining the leash law. Unfortunately, the leash law is designed to keep pets and humans safe, and the retractable leash is not aiding that goal. The goal here is to highlight the facts so you can judge the pros and cons of retractable dog leashes for yourself. It’s safe to say this is a diverse topic, not only online but in typical conversations with dog owners.

Hospitals all over the country have seen a steady pace of ER accidents reported due to the retractable leash. The complaints range from specific brands failing, to unforeseen accidents due to the owner’s loss of control when the lead is extended. It appears that the exact appeal of the retractable leash, being the freedom to move, is the exact catalyst for injury. In other words, the pros and cons of the retractable dog leash literally outweigh each other. The extended leash, designed for freedom and movement is the pro. But that same extended leash is the culprit in most of the devastating accidents.

So let’s start weighing out the pros and cons of retractable dog leashes. The pro is the appeal of a long leash that can be extended in situations giving the dog a bit more freedom. It’s an amazing tool if the result means that both owner and dog get a bit of freedom to allow the dog to maintain his typical dog behaviors. The human can enjoy a leisure stroll and the dog can be a dog. This allows the dog to smell new smells, mark their territory, and generally cover more ground while their human companion can relax and go at their own pace. All while abiding by the leash law. Nice, I see the appeal. For this reason, the retractable leash is an easy-to-evaluate pro.

But on the flip side, the con to the pro, that same extended leash that creates freedom, is a weapon, sometimes deadly. The longer the lead is extended, in physics, the more velocity a running dog can create. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the shortcomings of the leash itself. To get an idea about the accidents that arise due to the retractable leash see this article, Serious Concerns about the Use of Retractable Dog Leashes.  Let’s discuss the cons of retractable dog leashes.

Even a smaller dog can pick up speed and create an unfavorable outcome. If you haven’t experienced it then trust the science. Good old Newton, “Force equals mass times acceleration.” The first issue, as described in this article A Vet’s Opinion on Retractable Dog Leashes, states that the ideology behind the retractable dog leash involves a closely attentive dog walker. Cesar Milan says that “the retractable leash was originally designed as a tracking and recall training tool.” This means the dog walker should be fully engaged with the dog while on a retractable dog leash. At all times. That’s an issue for the average person. I have two words. Cell phone. Among other natural deterrents, it’s easy to see how a person can drop attention, opening a door for complications. The second issue reported was not only the retractable dog leash breaking, but people continuing to use the broken retractable. Both are major cons to the retractable dog leash. The final con, as discussed earlier here, involves the freedom of the long leash fully extended. According to Newton’s Law, even a small dog can gain enough momentum to cause damage to its walker or other humans. The extended leash also allows the dog to make unfavorable ‘freedom of leash’ decisions. Unfortunately some of which are fatal, such as walking into traffic. Other reported accidents include neck and back injuries due to the rate of momentum when the dog actively runs but then ultimately runs out of leash. Some reports state the dog walker will then drop the leash, so as not to jar the neck of the animal. Now the dog is in a full-on run with a long length of rope attached to them. I’m sure you can visualize this horrific scenario.

So with this information, you can judge the pros and cons of retractable dog leashes for yourself.  That being said, I think it’s worth saying that if the retractable dog leash was designed as a training tool, then it should be used as one. When dog training, the key is to remain fully engaged with your dog. The second rule of thumb with training is to keep sessions reduced in time. Of course, the time tolerance for each dog breed can be different. But should you choose to use a retractable dog leash, you should remain fully engaged with your dog at all times. Secondly, you should frame the time of the walk accordingly. Lastly, never use a broken retractable dog leash. If you found this article helpful check out the Beach Dog Daycare Blog for a selection of articles on a wide variety of topics.