A retractable leash – length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle which is designed to fit comfortably in a human hand with a button on the handle that controls how much of the cord is extended. These leashes are popular primarily because they allow dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around. Unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of leash.
* The extended length of these leashes allows a dog to get too far away from their human that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. If your dog is being approached by an aggressive dog (or, God forbid, a coyote), it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation. It is much easier to regain control of – or protect – a dog at the end of a four-foot standard flat leash than it is if he is 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.
* If the person walking the dog gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, broken bones and worse. Many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. Dogs have also received terrible injuries because of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out of leash.
* Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.
* These devices are wholly counterproductive to training a dog to walk politely on lead. The very nature of retractables trains dogs to pull on the leash to extend the lead. Needless to say, this pulling behavior will be repeated whenever the dog is on a standard leash.
So, keep that four-foot flat leash to keep you and your dog safer on those walks. Now that the weather has cooled, I know you and your dog will love those long walks, especially around the lakes!
I also believe the person/dog bond is strengthened when the dog knows exactly what you are wanting from him and that he can trust you are the leader of the pack and will keep him safe … he will follow you anywhere!
Rover’s Rest Stop will be joining Linda Caton’s Fun Walk on November 11 in the greenbelt by the tennis courts. See you there (with a four-foot leash)!