Should You Get a Retractable Dog Leash for Your Dog?

Are you a pet parent who has heard a lot of negative things about using retractable dog leashes but wants to know the truth? Well, you have come to the right place. I’m going to tell you why one should and should not use a retractable dog leash. But more importantly, you should also know why there are polar opposite opinions about it. 

Why is there controversy regarding the use of retractable dog leashes?

Each and every human invention that resulted in a commercial product is meant to solve a specific problem. For example, since the concept of walking dogs was widely being practiced and accepted, more and more pet products were emerged to address the problems revolving around ‘dog walking’ and make it a comfortable experience.

In the same way, retractable leashes entered the market to provide a better dog walking experience (more about it later in this article). The controversy started when gruesome accidents happened to dogs and even their owners because of using retractable leashes. 

Unlike other types of leash, collars, harnesses, and pet products, retractable leashes are potentially dangerous to use. However, that doesn’t mean you should not use retractable leashes at all. 

Also, this means you should get a retractable dog leash of high quality. When you get a cheaper dog leash, you’re actually compromising on your safety. 

Of course, you’ll have to follow and keep in mind all the directions and safety measures it comes with. For example, if you have a chainsaw, you can injure yourself if you don’t practice safety measures. 

Conclusively, retractable leashes are potentially dangerous to use but it also has a purpose which can make walking your dog easier and will provide more freedom to your beloved canine buddy. On the other hand, frequent accidents happen due to not following safety measures and instructions, using it for a different purpose, and poor handling. 

Considering that, there are polar opposite opinions people have for retractable leashes.

What is a retractable dog leash?

A retractable leash is a type of leash that allows dog walkers to let their dog roam in wider proximity. This way, dogs get more freedom while walking. The leash is attached to a spring mechanism residing in a plastic structure that keeps the leash under tension and elongates when a dog moves to a wider radius of proximity. 

This type of leash has a brake mechanism that enables locking the leash as per your wish, basically, you can decide how long the leash will be, thereby limiting the dog’s roaming range.

And when you feel your dog should be by your side, you can press a button to reel in and shorten the leash. 

Who can use a retractable dog leash?

It’s a clear ‘No’ for new pet parents and untrained dogs. Why? Dogs who haven’t been trained or don’t even follow any simple commands like ‘stay’ or ‘down’ won’t listen to your commands when needed.

Consider retractable leash walking as an advanced level of leash walking. That said, If you’re struggling to leash walk your dog with confidence, you should not get a retractable leash. If your dog misbehaves and decides to escape from the spot, there are chances of getting yourself and your dog injured and losing him as well.

Cats too can walk on retractable leashes. However, you should see whether your cat wants to walk on a leash and a harness or not and learn how to walk a cat. 

Owners of trained dogs

I’d like to stress the phrase ‘trained dogs’ because retractable leases are safe only for well-behaved dogs who will listen to you every time. Most accidents happen when your dog decides to chase the squirrel at the park and doesn’t get your recall through the leash or voice.

If you accidentally try to grab the unwinding leash with your hands, you can get severe burns and cuts. A retractable leash should only be controlled with the handle it comes with. Also, your dog can injure himself if he accidentally gets his legs tangled with the leash.

The problem intensifies when you start rewinding the leash or lock it suddenly when your dog is running in the opposite direction. A sudden jerk may cause injuries to the dog’s neck and trachea.

Dogs who can walk off-leash

If you compare walking on a retractable dog leash with walking off-leash, you will be able to understand the issues in a better way. Dogs who can walk off-leash will always stay in your proximity and never take off after a squirrel or a rabbit.

If your dog can walk off-leash, he would be more alert, disciplined, and will be able to communicate with you efficiently. This will not only make the walking experience safe but also enjoyable with more freedom.

Owners willing to train their dogs for walking on a retractable leash

Your energy and emotions pass through the leash. Your dog receives the signals you give through the leash. In order to teach your dog when to fall back to the safe zone, you will have to train your dog for that.

Take your puppy to an empty backyard or a park and attach a retractable leash. Walk your puppy around for a while without giving any commands. Now, when a dog is away from you, bend down a bit, start rewinding the leash and show the treat. Rewinding the leash and showing him the treat should happen simultaneously.

When the pooch gets back to you, use your clicker to click and offer the treat. You have to practice this command along with ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and recall commands. When you’ve mastered this technique, your dog will understand the leash signals you give him. In other words, your dog will return to you when they experience the pull force of the winding leash.


Untrained dogs, I repeat, untrained dogs, should not be walked on a retractable leash. I hope what we have discussed in the article has given you a different outlook on a retractable dog leash. Sure, it is dangerous and can cause severe injuries including amputations of fingers! Never let children walk a dog on a retractable leash and follow all the instructions carefully before using it. If you have any questions or want to share with us your experience, do let us know about it in the comment section below.

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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