Why I Would Never Recommend A Retractable Lead
If you have done your research, its really nothing new that this type of lead is infamous among dog owners (and non-dog owners, actually). Usually used for very small dogs, but not uncommonly used for medium to large sized dogs too, this lead is dangerous not just for the safety of the dog, but for the safety of the user and surrounding passers-by.
A retractable lead does not offer reliable security when walking your dog as the lead itself is simply made of a thin elastic material, easily chewed apart or overpowered by the strength of the dog you are walking. The lead is fed out of a plastic handle that only enables the user to hold the lead with one hand (unless you want rope burn while you hold the extending lead as it runs out of the feeder while your dog gains some speed in front of you) which, especially for medium to large dogs, is absolutely not a stable or safe way to walk a dog.
When you don’t have sufficient control of your dog, he can easily get away from you as the lead slips your grasp. This means your dog is running scared and risks being hit by an oncoming car or being lost for a while. The plastic bulky handle crashes on the floor behind the dog as it runs which can easily spook the dog, making it run faster and for longer. Due to its thin design and heavy handle, its easy for this lead to get stuck around an obstacle like a tree which can trap your dog.
Serious Danger for User
Despite the warning about taking caution with your fingers whilst using this lead (usually stated on the packaging or on a sticker under the handle), people have suffered deep gashes to their hands and fingers, with some cases seeing the users having fingers amputated during the use of the retractable lead.
This lead is very difficult to untangle a dog from, even in a calm situation. But when your dog meets another dog on his walk and a fight breaks out, you will find it very challenging to untangle this lead from under your dog or the lead of the other dog. This means you will be putting your hand in the danger zone of a dog fight, which you should NEVER do. You risk being bitten whilst untangling this thin and spindley lead.
Danger for Dog
When the dog is allowed to get 3-5 metres away from you, its almost impossible to make sure your dog isn’t eating something he shouldn’t be eating. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the dangers that lay on the ground of our walking routes, such as rat poison, poisonous insects, and even the faeces of other dogs that could contain contagious diseases like parvo or kennel cough. When you allow your dog to get far away from you during a walk, you open up the possibility of your dog coming into contact with these dangers, which can potentially be life-threatening.
Another potential danger that arises when you allow your dog to get a distance away from you is that the dog can come into contact with another dog. Even if your dog is very sociable and friendly towards other canines, the other dog may not be, or the two dogs may just decide they don’t get on. You are then endangering the other dog, the owner walking the other dog, yourself and your own dog.
The dog can quickly become tangled up in this lead as its so thin and long, which can cause a lot of discomfort and strain. If the lead is then retracted whilst it is wrapped around the leg or neck of a dog, it will naturally tighten around the body part and cause serious injury.
Danger for Passing Pedestrians/Cyclists
The thin lead is almost like an invisible wire that you would use to prank someone and trip them up. It is not easily visible to passers-by and exhibits a real danger to everyone around you as they trip over it or get tangled in the lead. Its also dangerous for cyclists as they have been known to either run into the dog or over the thin lead at speed.
Easily Chewed Apart
Due to the thin nylon rope lead, you can quite quickly find that you no longer have your dog attached to the other end of your retractable lead. If your dog is a chewer, he will find no challenge chewing his way out of your grasp. They are rarely made to be as durable as they should be for the design, and that risks your dog getting away whilst you are out on a walk, which again puts your dog in danger.
No Possible Training Technique
You cannot sufficiently train a dog proper lead walking on a retractable lead. To start with, you can’t even hold the lead in the appropriate way (see photo below), because as I mentioned before, it only allows the user to put one hand on the lead.
To round up, using this lead on any sized dog has its dangers and is not a safe product to use (in my view). You are relying on a little button to click down the lead to stop the dog running too far away from you. This is not a suitable way of walking any dog, large or small. They oppose a hazard for more than just the dog or the walker. I really encourage you to purchase a reliable, durable lead made of good quality material that you can hold with two hands and practise good walking training techniques with your dog that will make walking a fun and stress-free activity for you and your dog.