We all understand the appeal of the retractable leash. Your dog is free to toodle around and enjoys themselves while you enjoy a peaceful walk, without getting your shoulder pulled out of its socket. However, these leads do not come without risk.
First off, it is important for your dog to know what an acceptable distance from you is while out and about. A flexi leash teaches the opposite. The dog learns that if they pull on the leash, they get more space. This is the exact opposite of functional leash walking. In an ideal world, unless your dog is “released” they should be content to walk in a loose heel position for the majority of a walk.
They also present a safety risk for the dogs themselves. Some of these leashes extend up to 25ft. It is entirely possible that your dog could wander into traffic, up to an unfriendly dog or unfriendly stranger. Unfortunately these leashes do not make it easy to “reel them back in”, so unless your dog has a reliable recall command, you may get yourself into some dangerous situations. It can also be hard on your dog’s neck if they unexpectedly reach the end of the rope. This makes these leashes a bad choice for dogs that are prone to neck and back problems.
These leashes also pose a risk to the user. Fingers and legs often get caught, causing lacerations and painful rope burn. Whether through getting tangled in the leash or accidently grabbing the line, these accidents do happen, all the time. They also make it awkward for veterinary staff trying to control dogs in a high traffic situation.
The final concern when it comes to retractable leads is, as with any mechanical equipment, risk of failure. It is not uncommon for these leashes to snap when a dog pulls causing the dog to get loose and a flying rope to come flying at the owner’s face! Nobody wants to lose an eye!
As a general rule, for everyday leash walking around town, to the vet, obedience class, etc…a regular, everyday, 6ft leash will suit you and your dog just fine. And make your veterinary clinic staff very happy!