Retractable Leash
Retractable Leash

Retractable leashes have some advantages and some disadvantages. Let's look at these and find out when they can be used correctly.

Retractable Leash Advantages

  1. This type of leash is long when fully expanded, allowing the dog a lot of space to explore all around the owner.
  2. Despite being long, it winds automatically, so the lead does not get tangled up when the dog's closes the distance to the handler.
  3. This leash has a built in lever that allows the owner to stop the leash from extending. This is especially useful when an obstacle is nearby that the handler doesn't want the puppy/dog to go around or approach... such as another dog, human, or tree/bush.
  4. It can easily clip onto many different types of collars or harness.
  5. The handle feels secure in the handler's hand and can easily be moved from hand to hand or transferred to another person.
  6. This leash comes with accessories, such as pouches that velcro to the device where the human to securely store training treats or poop bags.

Retractable Leash Disadvantages

  1. This type of leash necessarily places a small bit of constant pressure on the collar or harness. This can increase the odds that a puppy/dog will get used to this pressure and not be as sensitive on the leash.
  2. A retractable leash can be super long, sometimes 26' in length. This means your dog may be too far away from you in an emergency, such as approaching an aggressive dog. You have much less of an ability to handle any emergency situations when your dog is that far away from you. Also, check with leash laws in your state. This long leash might be in violation of those laws.
  3. When a dog or puppy moves too quickly for the handler, the dog can move much too far away than the handler intended. When this happens, the handler must then reel the dog in by pulling and using the stop button in quick succession.
  4. This leash is not very sturdy, so it can break easily. If a heavy dog gets to the end of the leash, it can break the retraction mechanism.
  5. If not used correctly, this leash can get wrapped around the handler. Rope burns and cuts can result when the human's skin gets in the way of the rushing retractable leash.
  6. This leash has an unpredictable leash length, causing the dog to not be able to determine when the leash will lock in place. This can cause the dog to jerk forward on the leash each time the unexpected lock occurs.

There is very specific time to use a retractable leash. Outside of this, there is no reason to use this type of leash.

Let's explore exactly when to use this leash.

The only time we recommend using a retractable leash is during early socialization puppy training. We recommend using the retractable leash in combination with a harness during this important time in a puppy's life. 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. 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. 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. Handlers can easily use this leash to teach puppies leash pressure.

Here is a video explaining the retractable leash and some examples of using the leash properly. As this trainer notes, retractable leashes can be very harmful and using them correctly in limited circumstances is the only way to use them properly.

Why Do Dog Trainers HATE Retractable Leashes