Reasons You Might Not Want to Buy a Retractable Leash

Strolling with your dog has got to be one of the most therapeutic activities for humans and dogs. You can do it daily, especially if you live in an area where it is safe to walk around. Engaging your dog in walking is essential as it has certain health benefits. Dog walking can improve fitness, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and strengthens muscles and bones. The activity can also help your dog familiarize itself with the outdoors. For this reason, their socialization skills are trained as well.

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With the help of a leash, you can conveniently take out your dog without worrying about them going too far. It gives you control, especially when your dog isn’t used to meeting strangers. A territorial dog might lunge at anyone, and the leash is the safest tool to prevent them from attacking others. There are various types of leashes available on the market. Choose according to your preference, except for a retractable leash. Although advertised well, the hidden dangers of using a retractable leash can still be determined. You might want to think twice before buying one — it isn’t worth the hype.

Why Should You Avoid Buying a Retractable Leash?

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A retractable leash allows a person to feed or retract the thin cord attached to your dog’s collar. It has a plastic handle on the end with a brake and release device. The thin cables measure up to 10-25 feet and are housed in a plastic handle. Due to its length, the leash will allow your dog to walk as far as it can. Sounds convenient, right? But here are the things you need to be aware of before considering buying a retractable leash.

The Owner Has Minimal Control

Unlike other leashes, a retractable leash offers minimal control to your dog. Using it can allow your dog to walk far — it may seem alright, but this poses a danger. You might not quickly notice whether your dog is eating something or is being bullied by an aggressive canine. In dog walking, your pet must understand that you take the lead, but they would think the other way with a retractable leash. It only makes the pet accessory not ideal for training your dogs on how to behave outdoors.

Photo: Flickr/Marco Verch Professional Photographer

Thin Cord Easily Breaks

If you have a large and strong canine at the end of the retractable leash, the cord will most likely break if it takes off at full speed. It doesn’t just put the dog in danger; the snapped cord can also injure the human at the other end of the leash. Also, the dog can effortlessly chase its target out of excitement or run as far away as possible.


Aside from acquiring injury when the thin cords snap, it can also cause burns and cuts — to the owner and their dog. There have been reports of amputation due to the cord being tightly wrapped around fingers or other body parts. The risk of using a retractable leash is when owners try maneuvering the cord to pull their dogs closer. Injuries aren’t only inflicted on the dog and owner, but also those around them. The thin cords can get entangled on the wheels of a bike, causing an accident. There are also instances where kids get wounded with long gashes as dogs run past them. You’ll surely be a walking disaster with a retractable leash attached to your pet.

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Affects Training

“As a trainer, one of the biggest things I see people coming in for is loose-leash walking,” says Merritt Milam, founder and head trainer at Wags’ n Whiskers. “It’s what everyone’s worried about, but a retractable leash literally teaches a dog to pull.” An owner won’t be able to train their dogs if they can easily roam far distances. Using a retractable leash can only teach your dog to ignore you and do things as they please.

What Should You Use Instead of a Retractable Leash?

Opt for a collar and leash to avoid accidents and have proper dog training. It may limit your dog’s freedom outside, but it provides security. Another recommendable alternative is a harness. The American Kennel Club explains that a harness offers better control for owners. It is also much more comfortable for the dog, since it applies pressure to a larger body area rather than just the neck.

Photo: Pexels/Victoria Strelka_ph

Choosing the right leash is a pet owner’s responsibility, and this will help with proper etiquette when walking your dog in the park or neighborhood. Dog walking isn’t just a walk in the park — many factors need to be considered. More importantly, safety should be your top priority. Strolling with your dog should be hassle-free and an activity you enjoy—returning home should be filled with smiles instead of wounds, injuries, and complaints.

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