Free Shipping on orders over $35

Can You Fix a Broken Retractable Dog Leash? If So, How?

Retractable dog leashes don't last forever, but when they break, how can you determine whether or not you'll be able to fix them, or you need to purchase a new one? This Post explains how to diagnose issues and make repairs to retractable dog leashes.

Investing in a retractable dog leash is an excellent idea as it offers your dog more freedom to sniff and explore, instead of forcing them to stay beside you at all times, but just like any other product, retractable leashes are prone to wear and tear.

Over time, a series of issues can crop up, with leashes getting stuck, fraying, or even breaking entirely.

Some of these issues are easily fixed, but others simply can’t be addressed safely and will require purchasing a new leash.

To help you determine how to fix certain problems, and guide you through deciding when to try a repair or purchase a new product, we’ve compiled this short guide that explains how to fix your retractable dog leash all by yourself.

Let's get started!


Issues You May Be Able to Repair

Whether it’s a good idea to rescue a broken retractable dog leash largely depends on the intensity of the damage it’s experienced, and the nature of that damage.

To find out if you’re going to be able to save the broken leash, you’ll first need to disassemble it to try to determine the cause of the problem, then diagnose whether or not you’re able to fix it yourself.

But how would you know if you can fix it or not?

Let's looks at the most common issues that you may face with a retractable leash and discuss if, as well as how you can fix them should something go wrong.

The Leash Won't Extend

Place your retractable dog leash on a flat surface and start with unscrewing the screws on both sides of the device. Put a thin plastic sheet between the two cases to prevent the spring from popping out.

Now make sure that the brake mechanism of your leash isn't too tight; which can randomly happen every once in a while. If the brake is too tight that it’s preventing the leash from extending, simply loosen it up a bit and try extending it again. If the leash starts working again, you’re good to go.

Keep in mind that a leash which won’t extend is still a safe leash, it’s the leash that won’t retract that you would certainly need to be extremely careful about.

The Leash Won't Retract

If your leash isn't retracting, it is probably due to a defect in the spring. Retract the leash all the way  and note if you’re able to do the full retraction smoothly, without any issues  like bumpiness, wobbling, sticking, etc..

Next, try opening it up to see if there is any tension in the spring. If you feel that your spring is hampering the retractable function, you should certainly replace the spring, which may be as easy as taking it to a hardware store and purchasing a duplicate.

The Leash Is Twisted Or Tied In A Knot

Using the same method to open the leash as mentioned above, slowly extend the leash all the way out and check the leash tape for any twists. Wipe the line clean with a damp paper towel to remove any pieces of debris that could be entangling in the line.

If you have a knot in the leash, you’re simply going to have to untie it. If you’re able to untie it, then the leash should be fine to be used again, unless it’s catching or getting stuck due to a kink in the leash where the knot was.

If you’re unable to untie the knot, then you may need to replace the entire mechanism.


Issues You Probably Cannot Repair

The following issues are irreparable, as even a simple "fix" would end up compromising the safety of the leash and hence, your dog. If you experience any of the following issues, we would recommend simply buying a new leash.

The Leash Is Fraying

If you notice that the leash tape or ribbon has become flimsy and is starting to fray, or simply appears to be getting worn out, do NOT use glue or adhesives to strengthen it and try to keep using that leash.

If you’re seeing any sort of degradation in the integrity of the leash itself, then it’s time to replace it with a brand new device. The problem with attempting to make any sort of repair here is that there’s no way it’ll be as strong as the original leash, and if the leash were to snap or tear, then you would be facing the worst case scenario, with your dog running free.

The Leash's Handle or Case Has Snapped or Cracked

If your leash's handle snaps or cracks, badly, then chances are pretty good you’ll need to get a new leash.

If it’s just a small, minor, or superficial crack, then you could be fine to carry on as usual with the leash, but it is incredibly important to keep a close eye on the problem to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Typically, the handle or case is just superficial, and for looks, and so as long as the leash itself continues to work properly, you could continue using the device.

The Brake Won't Work

If your brake stops working, then you are almost certainly going to need to get a new leash, unless it’s the result of some minor issue that’s easily fixed.

To check whether the brakes on your leash are fixable, you can unscrew the leash following the above-mentioned steps and then try cleaning the insides of the device. Sometimes gunk, debris, crud or build-up can prevent the brake from working properly, and a simple cleaning can take care of the issue entirely.

However, if the problem persists, that means that the internal mechanics of the brakes have been compromised and buying a new leash will definitely be your only solution.

Working brakes are crucial for retractable leashes as they are the component responsible for ensuring the safety of your dog, so if your brake has a problem, then you need to get rid of that old leash and pick up a new one immediately.

How Do You Pick The Perfect Retractable Dog Leash?

Getting a good retractable dog leash is an important investment to protecting yourself, your dog, and any other people or animals that you encounter during your walks.

It’s important to get a high-quality, properly functioning retractable dog leash, because only the best retractable dog leashes will offer you complete control over the dog, which is critical to ensuring you’ll both enjoy the walks you take together, and that you’ll want to continue going on them regularly.  

There are several things to consider when buying a retractable dog leash, and paying attention to these critical factors will prevent you from ending up with a leash that is inconvenient, or dangerous. To make the shopping experience easier for you, the list below details what you need to pay attention to when shopping for the best retractable dog leash:


Make sure to invest in a dog leash that is sturdy and durable so it can withstand whatever rigors you may face on your walks, including inclement weather conditions like high winds, snow, or cold. Think about where you walk your dog, what kind of weather you walk in, what kinds of stresses you face, and whether or not you need special features like an integrated flashlight, rubberized grip or other extra details that may help improve your walking experience.

The Handle

The handle of the leash should be comfortable, sized appropriately for your hand, and angles to make it ergonomic so that you can carry the leash without any discomfort. Think about your typical walking style, and about how you tend to hold your dog leash’s handle. Do you place the handle by your side, near your chest, or do you like to strap the handle to your belt or a shoulder strap? Get a leash that’ll work for your particular preference. Clip Type

When deciding a clip type for your retractable dog leash, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It should be capable of quickly pivoting (spinning), or else the cord might end up twisting around itself and compromising it’s strength or retractability
  • It should be easy to open the clip so you can easily attach it to your dog's collar
  • It should be sturdy enough and not bend at all, even under full pressure from your dog (test this indoors or in your backyard before taking it outside on a real walk!)
  • The size of the clip is also essential, you wouldn't want to have a massive one around a small pup or one that’s too small for your big , powerful dog, as that’s just asking for trouble

Leash Style

When it comes to selecting a safe retractable leash, we definitely suggest paying close attention to the style of leash you choose, as the single cord-style leashes can be dangerous, whereas ribbon or tape style leashes are unlikely to cause any problems at all.

Make sure to pick a leash that uses the ribbon or tape style for the leash’s extension, as this is a much stronger, much more durable design than the single cord, as those could snap or break, resulting in a dog that it completely off leash. Additionally, ribbon is one of the best tangle-free leash styles commonly used in retractable designs.

Leash Length

Make sure to pick the appropriate length for you leash, choosing your length based on how much room you like to give your dog to roam.

Leashes tend to come in certain length increments, with some of the more common lengths being 6 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, or longer.

For most people, 15 feet or so is the perfect amount of length, as this allows you to give your dog plenty of freedom, without allowing them to get so far away that you can’t deal with any issues as they arise.

Weight Limit

When picking the perfect retractable leash, you’ll certainly need to pay attention to the weight limit and rating, making sure to get a leash that can handle your dog’s weight and strength.

It’s a good idea to get a leash rated for more than your dog weighs, especially if your dog has behavioral issues, pulls, lunges, or exhibits any other sort of non-standard walking behavior, and the reason to get a heavily-rated leash is to ensure that it won’t break if your dog puts too much pressure on it.


Which Retractable Dog Leash Should I Buy?

To make your retractable leash shopping experience as simple as possible, choose a leash from Pet & Cuddle, where we design products to offer maximum support and comfortability for both dog owners and their pets.

Our top-rated retractable dog leashes are safe, comfortable and affordable, and designed to suit the needs of 99% dog owners. These leashes are strong enough to keep your little ball of fur safe and secure while providing them will plenty of room to roam so that they can explore, build confidence, and remain happy, healthy pups.

Shop for your next dog harness and retractable leash at Pet & Cuddle!

Questions about Retractable Dog Leashes

Understanding the ins and outs of choosing the best leash for your fido might seem complicated, so if you still have any questions, we can help. Below are some of the most common questions we’ve heard from pet owners like you. 

Is it better to use a retractable dog leash instead of a regular-length one?

A retractable dog leash is the best style for most pet parents and their dogs, as the adjustable length and easy lock/release button allows to easily achieve the ideal length for your dog and activity. The leash handle is also much more comfortable to hold for longer, thanks to its ergonomic design, and the retractable feature eliminates the chances of the leash getting tangled during its storage or use. 

Should I use a retractable leash with a dog harness?

At Pet & Cuddle, we really prefer the use of retractable leashes. They’re safe and allow adjusting your walking experience accordingly. You can use it in an open park or space, giving your dog the freedom and independence to roam. Or else, in a crowded area when more control is needed, you can reel the leash in.
Some people are afraid to use a retractable leash with a dog harness, but they shouldn’t be. The two are safe to use together. The only thing to remember is that you shouldn’t let the leash line generate any tension if it’s hooked to the front clip of a harness. This can confuse your dog and make him think he’s pulling even if he’s not. Beyond that, yes, you can use a retractable leash and dog harness together.

Can I keep my dog on a leash all day long?

It’s totally fine to keep your dog leashed throughout the day if you want to prevent destructive behavior like chewing. However, do not leave a dog leashed overnight or when you aren’t around, as the leash may get tangled and cause a choking hazard.

Are dogs required to be on a leash by law?

If you live in Michigan or Pennsylvania, the answer is yes. In case if you live elsewhere, it's recommended to check into your local restrictions. In general, dogs should be leashed when on public property and must be under full control of the owners while on private property.