Reasons Pet Owners Should Not Use A Retractable Leash
If you own a dog, you know how important your daily walk is for both of you. Your furry friend needs the exercise as well as the opportunity to see the world outside your backyard. You value the chance to bond with your pooch and build a stronger relationship. The next time you get ready to head out the door, however, take a moment to think about the type of leash you’re using. If you’re like many dog owners, you have a retractable leash that extends to give your mutt a lot of extra distance.
These leashes typically feature a reel enclosed in the handle and a nylon rope that can be retracted if the animal goes too far. They also include a button that locks the reel in place to prevent the dog from extending the leash. Many pet parents swear by them because they like giving their dogs freedom to explore. What they don’t know is that these devices have the potential to do far more harm than good.
Although you may think they’re safer and more convenient than a traditional restraint, retractable leashes could hurt your pup in more ways than one. There’s also a risk of injuries to yourself and others. What’s worse, this sort of leash could damage the relationship you have with your dog. With that in mind, here are some of the most critical reasons why you should consider ditching your retractable leash.
They Don’t Offer as Much Control
Some retractable leashes can allow your dog to stray as far as 30 feet away from you. That’s nice if your pal wants to check out an interesting shrub while you stay on the sidewalk, but it can create some real problems. For example, if you’re approached by a more aggressive animal, your pooch could get into a serious scrape before you can gain control of the situation. It’s also easy to become distracted and lose sight of what your dog is doing. Before you know it, he or she could be running into the street, bothering a passerby or marking something he or she shouldn’t. A standard leash keeps the two of you closer together at all times, making it easier for you to protect or rein in your dog if necessary.
They Can Cause Injuries
Even though a retractable leash will give your mutt a little extra running room, eventually he or she will run out of line. That means your dog could be running at full speed when he or she reaches the end. A sudden jerk on the harness or collar can lead to canine neck and back injuries. If your pooch is large, the unexpected tugging can hurt you, too. Owners have reported shoulder injuries as a result of using these leashes. Even worse, the force of your dog coming to a sudden stop could yank you right off your feet, leading to bumps, bruises and even broken bones.
But these aren’t the only problems associated with retractable leashes. The cord itself can be extremely dangerous under certain circumstances. Grabbing for it while it’s in motion could cause rope burns. And if it becomes tightly wrapped around the dog owner, it can even sever fingers. Of course, having a long lead can also create hazards for passersby. It’s very easy for an excited pup to entangle a strangers’ legs, causing a fall or, at the very least, a serious annoyance.
They Create Behavioral Problems
Training your pet to behave in public is difficult enough, and a retractable leash may counteract all your hard work. For instance, skittish mutts may be easily frightened by the sound the handle makes if it is dropped. This can lead to a panicked pooch being “chased” by a clattering object that he or she can’t shake. These leashes also encourage dogs to pull, because they figure out early on that they have more freedom of movement when they do that. This can create a dangerous situation if another dog interprets that pulling as a sign of aggression.
Humans aren’t immune to leash-related behavioral issues, either. When you’re not constantly aware of your dog pulling on the leash, you may become complacent and stop paying attention to what he or she is doing. In short, a retractable leash may train you to tune out while you’re out and about with your pooch.
They’re Not as Reliable
Typically speaking, more moving parts mean more potential for trouble. Compared to a traditional leash, a retractable one is far more complicated. The spring-loaded reel can break, making it impossible to retract the line. The locking mechanism can fail, giving you no control over the release. The cord itself is often thin enough that a sudden yank can cause it to snap. If any of these things happen while you’re out on a walk, you may be in for a chase.
They Hurt Your Relationship With Your Dog
Perhaps the biggest reason why you shouldn’t use a retractable leash is because it impacts the quality time you have with your dog. With so much distance between the two of you, it’s harder for your pooch to pay attention to your commands. The amount of freedom it provides means you’re not so much companions out for a walk as you are two creatures tethered together. The closeness you share while walking should help your four-legged buddy develop a sense of trust and dependence on you. That’s just not possible if he or she is a couple dozen feet away from you.
They might seem like they make your daily walks easier, but retractable leashes are actually creating more work for you as a pet owner. A good-quality, six-foot leash will do the job just as well. It also gives you more control over your dog and helps strengthen your friendship. If you don’t already own one, pick up a standard leash at the pet store and say goodbye to those spring-loaded nuisances forever.
Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.