Retractable vs Standard Leashes

This is a question I hear so often. Not just from clients but from friends and family. So I thought I’d share my answer and reasons behind it here for all of you as well.

There are many reasons why I tell all of my clients to get a regular lead. What do I mean by that? Simple, a leash that is not a retractable one, doesn’t have part of it is a bungee. Just a regular 6 foot lead made out of leather, nylon or another type of material and has a snap on one end. The main reason I don’t recommend a retractable leash is..SAFETY.

A retractable leash has a few flaws that can cause safety issues and some can be life altering for you, your dog or someone else and their dog. Retractable leashes are just that, retractable. That is until that part of the leash doesn’t work anymore. When that happens you lose all, or what little you had, control of your dog. Your dog is now anywhere from 8′ – 10′ away from you on a little, thin cord. Do you have good enough obedience with your dog to be able to call them back to you? What if another dog comes walking by or scarier yet, charges your dog? If your dog goes to run away from you or a situation they are going to break that cord especially if they are a medium or large breed dog. Then the situation spins completely out of control. Another mechanism on the retractable leash that can fail is the lock button. This is how you’re supposed to be able to lock how far your dog is allowed away from you. Again, if this breaks you’re looking at again no control of your dog.

But besides the safety of your dog which is very important, we have your safety to be concerned with. I have seen numerous injuries on owners and handlers from these leashes. One of the biggest things is the leash getting wrapped around your legs and causing you to fall. But one of the injuries I’ve seen most is burns. People have gotten nylon burns on their ankles from the leash being wrapped around their legs and the dog pulling on the leash and running it across their ankles/legs. Believe me, no kind of nylon burn feels good.

So why do I always recommend a “normal” leash? Simple…control and safety. When you have a normal 6′ – 8′ leash, whether it’s made of leather or other materials, you have more control of your dog which also equals safety.

A normal leash doesn’t have any give in it, meaning no bungee type material in it, which now you have control of not only your dog but also something to help guide your dog. You’re able to reinforce obedience commands, direction and pace/speed. If you’re on a walk and another dog is approaching you from the opposite way with their owner you’re going to be able to keep your dog closer to you so that there is a less chance of dog vs dog aggression. There is less chance of the leash being wrapped around you causing you injury. Now this isn’t to say that if you have a nylon leash and don’t hold your leash properly that you won’t get it a nylon burn. But this topic will be covered in a later blog. But the chance of anyone or any dog getting harmed on walks or runs are much less on a leash that gives you more control than on one that you have very little to no control.

In closing, the decision is always up to the owner or handler. Unless you’re going to a class or activity that requires you to have a non-retractable leash. But I hope that this gives you something to think about when choosing a leash for your best friend. Like I said in the beginning, it’s all about safety and control.


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