This dog training item is very controversial, but we recommend it!

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, April 14, 2023
Meriwether pup6.jpg
Meriwether looking pretty in her Forest home

Yesterday, someone asked why we promote the use of a retractable leash in our NEW Puppy Training Bundle.

This training item is highly controversial in dog circles, but we promote its use in a very specific way.

First let’s look at the legitimate CONS to using a retractable leash.

Here are 10 reasons why retractable leashes are not recommended:

  1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous.
  2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises.
  3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.
  4. If a dog walker 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, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, "road rash," broken bones, and worse.
  5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated trachea, and injuries to the spine.
  6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to "fight back."
  7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.
  8. 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.
  9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.
  10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven't been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractable leashes train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

The above list is absolutely true!

So… with all of those reasons why retractable leashes are a bad idea, why in the world are we promoting its use?

First of all, we do NOT recommend using a retractable leash except for ONE… and only one… use.

Retractable leashes should ONLY be used during puppy training accompanied with a harness.

ALL of the cons listed above can be removed when using a retractable leash/harness combination ONLY with young puppies that have not yet learned leash pressure.

In addition, there are some legitimate PROS to using a retractable leash/harness combination with young puppies.

  1. When puppies are young and just starting to understand being tethered, using a retractable leash allows the puppy to tolerate leash pressure.
  2. Retractable leashes also provide a good amount of room to move and explore the surroundings, which aids in confidence building and socialization training.
  3. Puppies can explore all around without too much limitation, but the owner still has control of the puppy when needed. This then eliminates most of the negatives associated with this lead.
  4. A puppy is small and much lighter in weight than a grown dog, eliminating the lunging heavy dog that might ruin the leash's function.
  5. Puppies generally move about here and there, unpredictably, which means a handler is required to move the leash around lengthening and shortening the leash in a quick reaction. The retractable leash is perfect for this allowing the handler to focus on the puppy's experience and not on handling the leash.
  6. Handlers can easily use this leash to teach puppies leash pressure, the very next step in the puppy leash training process.

I describe exactly HOW to use the retractable leash/harness combination in the DireWolf Guardians Training Philosophy book. I also share all of the steps to training your puppy leash pressure.

However, if you want more information on retractable leashes, I wrote an article on the subject, which you are read here:

There is also a wonderful comprehensive video on the pros and cons of retractable leash use on this page.

We require three more people to reply with their interest to purchase the Puppy Training Bundle. Send your reply by April 15th at 11:59pm Pacific. We won’t order the kits before the DireWolf Express trip leaving April 27th unless we have the interest.

The bundle includes 9 essential puppy training items:

  • A gray and black duffle to carry your training materials while on the go.
  • A puppy training vest, medium size.
  • All natural puppy training treats.
  • A premium treat bag with clicker.
  • Lois’s Puppy Training book.
  • Jennifer’s Training Philosophy book.
  • Large retractible leash.
  • Slip lead.
  • Mammoth tug toy.

Now there’s no need to spend money on items you don’t need, but think you might, and won’t ever use.

Except for the wire crate, everything you need to train your new puppy is included in this Puppy Training Bundle.

What’s that you say?

“Is the second one FREE, too?”

No, it isn’t free.

But we were able to keep the cost down by ordering everything in bulk!

“So, what’s the cost?”

I am SO glad you asked.

If you were to purchase all of these items separately, you would spend close to $500, but they wouldn’t be official Dire Wolf Project quality.

Today, the official Dire Wolf Project Puppy Training Bundle is $370.

We want to order all the materials for both bundles by this weekend so they will be available to assemble and take on the next DireWolf Express Trip leaving April 27th.

So here’s the kicker…

FIVE, I’ll say it again, at least FIVE have to preorder for me to order the items before the DireWolf Express trip.

So if you are serious about ordering the Puppy Training Bundle along with the FREE Puppy Go Home Bag, here’s what you need to do:


Yup, that’s it. Just reply to this email and let me know you would like to purchase the Puppy Training Bundle.


IF at least FIVE of you reply with your intentions to purchase, then we’ll send out the order information. At that point, we will order the items and assemble them for you. Then, we will hand deliver your new puppy, the Puppy Go Home Bag, and Puppy Training Bundle to your door in person!

How exciting!

REMEMBER: Make your reply NO LATER THAN Saturday, April 15th.

Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.