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Why I don't like retractable leashes

I am not a fan of retractable leashes. There are dog lovers everywhere that swear by how wonderful they are and use them every day. While I think they are humane, (always my main criteria for even considering a dog product) I think they potentially cause more training problems than benefits.

  1. Dogs are taught to pull. When the leash is in retractable mode (not locked in place) your dog will always feel tension of the leash and will still be able to move forward. This can cause confusion. I recommend that when dogs put pressure on the leash, the handler should stop moving or gently move the other direction. This will teach your dog not to pull. The retractable leash can teach a dog to ignore pressure on the leash and pull harder.
  2. The handle is very combersome. To train effectively, you need to have good timing and be able to comfortably handle your dog and use rewards including toys or treats. The handle of the retractable leash can make training more difficult.
  3. It can scare dogs if the handle is dropped. If the handle is dropped, it can follow dogs on the ground and dogs can run from it while it dragging on the ground after them. This has happened to a few of my clients and it was very scary because their puppies panicked and ran far distances. Luckily, neither puppy was injured.
  4. The leashes get tangled. If you use a retractable leash and have ever tried to have an impromptu play session with a dog that you meet, I am sure you know what I mean. It can be very challenging to keep the leashes from getting tangled, and sometimes they can wrap around little puppy legs.
  5. Inconsistency. Besides having constant tension on the leash, dogs are able to walk varying distances in front of their guardians. This can create confusion when you want your dog to walk nicely next to you in the future. I recommend using a 6 foot, fixed length leash during training for consistency.

While I think these leashes are good in theory, I think the cons outway the benefits. If you want to give your dog more exercise, I recommend walking on a 6 foot leash and using fixed length long leashes or take your dog to a fenced in dog area for good romps.

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