Retractable Leash Horror Stories
Before bringing a new pup home, the first step is to buy some essentials for your new best friend: bed, food, toys, bowls, and a collar and leash. If this is your first dog, the first leash you’ll most likely grab is a retractable leash (sometimes called a flexi-lead). I did. I figured this was the best option for me and my dog, not realizing some of the dangers that exist with this type of leash. If you’re still on the fence about which type of leash is best for you and your furry friend, I have a pair of retractable leash horror stories to share with you, as well as some other dangers I’d like to bring to light.
- The Rug Burn Tango - My dog’s first dog friend was a stout English bulldog who lived next door. We’d regularly meet at the dog park and they both used retractable leashes at the time. One time after a dog park session, we were walking back home when the bulldog noticed a squirrel in the immediate distance. As expected, she bolted straight for it, and my legs ended up wrapped in her leash in the process. I was left with cuts and burns from the thin cord and even a bruise as a result of the leash handle smacking me when her owner let go of it as an attempt to avoid the disaster already in process. Turns out that our bulldog friend regularly went through retractable leashes because she was too heavy to be on that thin of a cord and would snap them frequently.
- Near Miss - We’d just left one of the many dog-friendly events that regularly take place in our home town of Austin, TX. We were driving home via a super busy downtown street full of cars and sidewalks lined with festival-goers still enjoying the festivities when a Chihuahua on a retractable leash saw something across the road and decided to investigate. Heading directly into the path of our car, the owner was fortunately quick to react and was able to pull the tiny Chihuahua back off the busy street. Had she been a larger dog, like our bulldog friend, this story could have had a very different ending.
Some retractable leashes can extend up to 20 feet! That's a really long tripwire for those around you and there's rarely a need for your dog to be that far from you. If something were to happen at that distance, say they encounter an aggressive dog, you’re not close enough to remove them from a situation where seconds matter.
Besides posing a threat in your immediate surroundings, the constant jerking and back and forth motion of this leash type can also impact your dog’s neck, especially in smaller dogs or those who are susceptible to collapsed tracheas.
Dogs will be dogs, and it doesn't take them long to figure out that if they pull hard enough you’ll give them more slack to go do dog things. That's why a dog on a retractable leash is generally always pulling, so they can go sniff, eat, and play with things that are farther and farther away. A professional dog trainer once told me, “Any dog who walks on a retractable leash isn’t leash trained.” I’d never thought about it that way, but those words stuck with me because of how true they are.
If you still walk your dog on a retractable leash I hope you’ll toss it straight in the trash in consideration for a fixed-length leash after reading this post. If not for your dog’s sake, for the sake and safety of those around you.