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Are Retractable Dog Leashes Better?

When shopping for your next dog leash, the first and probably most important consideration you’ll need to make is whether to stick with a traditional, fixed-length leash, or opt for the more-modern, more flexible, retractable dog leash.

But is a retractable dog leash really better than a static one?

This article reviews the many Pros and Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes, addresses important questions like “Are Retractable Dog Leashes Bad?”, then suggests how to pick the Best Retractable Dog Leash, based on your specific needs.

Keep reading to get the details you need to decide whether or not you should pick a retractable-style dog leash next time you’re in the market.

Why Should You Consider a Retractable Dog Leash?

Simply put, you should use a retractable dog leash because it's better than a traditional leash. Why? Because it offers more flexibility!

The ability to extend and retract the leash means that you have more options when it comes to walking your dog, allowing you to decide to give them free range to roam (when conditions are safe), while also giving you the choice of keeping them close at hand, all with the simple push of a button.

Compared to traditional, fixed-length leashes, retractables give both you and your dog far more variety in the options you two have to explore the world. And while some people won’t want their dogs more than 3, 6, or 10 feet away, many DO want to offer their best friends more room to roam.

With that said, retractable leashes aren’t perfect for everybody, and in some cases, they’re not the best option at all. To help you decide whether a retractable is right for you, let’s next look at the various Pros and Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes.

Pros & Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes

When deciding if a retractable leash is right for you, the best place to start is reviewing the Pros and Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes.

Let’s take a look at them in detail to help you figure out which leash type would be best for you; fixed-length, or retractable.

Pros

  • Retractable leashes are better if you want to offer your dog additional freedom to roam, explore and adventure
  • Retractables are better if you regularly walk in areas without lots of other people, dogs, cars, obstacles, or other safety hazards
  • Retractables are excellent for well-behaved dogs who listen to their owners, respond to verbal instruction, and who come back when called for
  • Retractable dog leashes are easier to control for people who don’t have a lot of manual dexterity, since the leash will control its own length
  • Retractable leashes may help your dog develop more confidence, allowing him or her to play the role of “lookout” or “scout”, walking comfortably ahead of you

Cons

  • Retractable leashes may not last as long as a fixed length leash, as there are moving parts, some of which could break
  • When extended, retractable leashes could be dangerous under certain conditions, especially if you give your dog too much room to roam within an area full of obstacles
  • Retractables aren’t good for dog owners who aren’t willing to pay attention to their dogs during a walk, as giving the dog too much room to roam could lead to tangles or other issues
  • Retractable leashes may be slightly more expensive than traditional leashes, so if your only objective is to save money, then you may be better off with a fixed-length leash

Concerns about Retractable Dog Leashes

The internet is full of articles from people claiming that Retractable Dog Leashes are Dangerous, but we disagree with that argument. Why?

Like any other product, retractable leashes are perfectly safe when used properly. In fact, under many conditions and situations, we would argue that retractables can be even safer than standard leashes. Why?

Because the ability to change the length of your leash allows you to do less work in controlling the distance between yourself and the dog, making it easier to prevent them from getting a leash tangled around their legs, and around obstacles in your environment.

With that said, here’s a list of the most common concerns about retractable dog leashes:

  1. They Could Hurt Your Dogs Neck

This could be true, but should only apply if you’re a neglectful dog owner who doesn’t pay attention to what your dog is doing while walking. If you’re completely ignoring them, and they’ve got the leash at full extension and full of slack, then they take off at full speed, then of course you could hurt their neck when they reach the end of the leash’s length.

But what are the odds of this occurring? Any responsible dog owner should be paying attention to their dog during their walks, actively managing the length of the leash, and ensuring that there isn’t any slack that could lead to a dangerous situation.

  1. They May Not Provide Enough Control

Some people argue that retractable leashes don’t allow you enough control to avoid dangerous situations, but we disagree with this point as well, since the flexibility retractables offer make allow for MORE control than a traditional, fixed-length leash.

Again, the safety here lies with the leash HOLDER, not the leash itself. If you’re paying attention, preventing the retractable leash from getting too long and picking up a great deal of slack, then you’re going to be capable of maintaining perfect control over your dog!

  1. They May Be More Prone to Breaking

We’ve seen this argument made in many articles arguing that retractable dog leashes AREN’T better than traditional leashes, but if you pay attention to our suggestions about how to pick the right retractable, then you’ll see it can be easily avoided.

The key to finding a great retractable leash is to make sure that you buy one with a “ribbon” or “tape”-style leash, and NOT one with just a single cord holding the clip to your dog’s collar. Why would this matter? Because a single cord IS more prone to breaking than a webbed, multi-threaded ribbon or tape-style leash.

  1. They Could Be Dangerous for Puppies

This is the only concern about the safety of retractable leashes that we think may be worthy of consideration. Why? Because puppies, or other dogs who haven’t yet learned how to walk properly, probably shouldn’t be offered any more than 3 to 6 feet of distance during walks.

This doesn’t make a retractable leash any more dangerous than a fixed-length leash; however, because the trick here is that the retractable could actually be even SAFER than the fixed-length leash, given that it offers you the ability to reduce the length of the leash quickly and easily.

Who Should Use a Retractable Leash?

We suggest retractable dog leashes for anyone who fits one or more of the following considerations:

  • You typically walk your dog in low-traffic, low-obstacle environments
  • You pay attention to your dog while walking them, rather than staring at the clouds, or at your phone
  • You walk your dog in “normal” conditions, meaning decent weather, visibility, etc.
  • You have a smaller, medium-sized, or large, but well-behaved dog
  • Your dog listens, doesn’t chase animals, and doesn’t lunge at people, or try to start fights with others dogs

Even if you only meet one or two of the conditions outlined above, a retractable dog leash may be better than a fixed-length leash.

Which Retractable Leash is Best for You?

Once you’ve determined that the retractable leash is better for your specific situation, then all you need to do is figure out which one would be right for you!

Here’s a list of the things we suggested considering when shopping for the right retractable leash:

  • Clip Type – You’ll certainly want to pick a clip that is the right size and strength for your dog. If you have a tiny dog, get a leash with a little clip (so it’s not dragging your dog around!), and if you have a huge and powerful dog, then make sure to get a big one that’s powerful enough to hold their strength!
  • Leash Type – As we mentioned earlier in this article, be sure to purchase a leash using the “ribbon” or “tape”-style leash; meaning the leash isn’t just a single cord, but a braided set of cords all connected to each other for added durability. This helps ensure that the leash won’t ever snap or break, even if a couple of the cords stop working.
  • Durability – Please do not get some cheap, unsafe leash from Amazon that has no reviews and comes straight from overseas. Remember that you’re putting yourself, your dog, and everyone else in the environment at risk if you choose to utilize an unsafe leash, and make sure to do at least a little bit of research before buying your leash. Get one from a reputable brand that you can trust.
  • Length – If you’re going to get a retractable, then you might as well get one that offers more than the standard 6 foot length found from traditional leashes, right? But do you need 15 feet of length? 20? 25? Or even more? Think about how far you realistically want to let your dog roam, and buy the length that makes the most sense. If you have no idea what length makes sense, then opt for something around 15 feet in length.

To simplify your retractable dog leash buying process, we suggest getting your next leash from Pet & Cuddle, as our retractable leashes are reliable, affordable, and perfectly safe.