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Pros and Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes

People asking themselves “Are Retractable Dog Leashes are Better?” should start their investigation by reviewing the Pros and Cons of Retractable Leashes, and especially by comparing those pros and cons vs. traditional, fixed-length leashes.

Even Benjamin Franklin understood the benefits of weighing the pros and cons of your options before deciding on a decision, and that strategy is every bit as useful today as it was 200+ years ago.

With that said, let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses to using a retractable dog leash.

First, we’ll summarize the different pros and cons, and then we’ll review each of them in detail to provide additional explanation.

Pros

  • Retractable dog leashes offer more freedom
  • Retractable dog leashes help Fido burn more calories
  • Retractable dog leashes can be useful for training
  • Retractable dog leashes are easier to use

Cons

  • Retractable dog leashes could be more dangerous (but let’s look at that in detail!)
  • Retractable dog leashes could cause injuries (but again, that needs to be reviewed in detail)
  • Retractable dog leashes may not be ideal for puppies

Pros of Retractable Dog Leashes

The biggest benefit to a retractable dog leash is that it gives both you and your dog more flexibility in the way that you walk, allowing you to have more control over the distance you provide your dog during walks.

But that’s not the only benefit, so let’s look at the benefits of retractables in detail:

Retractable Leashes Provide More Freedom

Using a retractable dog means comes with one major pro, the fact that you can give your dog far more room to roam than you’d be able to provide on a traditional fixed-length leash.

Fixed leashes typically run 3, 6 or 10 feet in length, but retractable leashes can easily go 15, 20 or even longer, meaning that if you want to let your furry best friend wander around with additional room to explore, then a retractable will certainly be your best bet.

This is absolutely ideal for anyone who walks their dogs in open environments, free of obstacles, people, cars, or other potential dangers that would make using a long leash difficult, or dangerous.

Retractable Leashes Allow for More Exercise

Since the retractable leash offers you dog more room to roam, that means they can also get more exercise during your walks, burn up more calories, and probably both have a better time, but also be more calm once the walk is over.

At the end of the day, walking your dog isn’t just about getting them exercise, it’s also about letting them burn up all that excess energy they DON’T use when sitting around your house, and especially in a smaller house, or an apartment, and critically, in a home without access to a back yard.

Dogs who don’t get walked often enough, far enough, or for long enough can display all sorts of behavioral problems, and oftentimes this is tied to the fact that they’ve simply got too much energy to burn, so making sure your dog can put in more distance during your walks is a really good idea.

Retractable Leashes Can Be Used for Training

When it comes to teaching your dog some important, but more advanced training techniques, like “Hell”, “Come”, “Back”, etc., a retractable dog leash offers several advantages.

First, these “tricks” require allowing your dog to get some distance from yourself before issuing the command to return, and if you’re trying to teach with a short, fixed-length leash, you simply may not have enough space in the length of the leash to get the job done.

By using a retractable leash, you can give your dog more room to range before calling them back, teaching them to follow commands at greater distances, making them much better trained and far safer on the road when it comes time to needing them to follow commands.

Second, the gentle reminder of the tension from the leash, which the retractable managers entirely on its own, helps the dog to learn to feel resistance, pay attention to resistance, and essentially listen for the cues you offer both verbally, and physically, via tugging the leash.

This makes it easier for them to understand that, yes, they are being allowed to roam a bit, but that yes, too, they will need to return to your side once requested to do so.

Retractable Leashes Are Easier to Use

Probably the most important pro to using a retractable leash and the reason why so many pick dog owners choose to use them for their daily needs is that they’re simply easier to use and manage when you do hit the road with Fido.

Why? Because traditional leashes have to be folded over, scrunched up, adjusted from hand to hand, etc., etc., in order to prevent from giving the dog too much space to roam, which could cause them to get wrapped around objects, obstacles, people, or other dogs.

Traditional leashes don’t offer that option to provide automatic tension on the line, ensuring that the dog only gets as much room as you want them to have, and as they need, which is why you’ll so often see people walking dogs with fixed length leashes having to pull the leash from under their dog’s feet.

Fixed-length leashes don’t offer the tension retractables provide, which makes them far more likely to end up offering too much slack, and getting caught up under the dog, wrapped around their legs, which becomes a significant safety hazard!

But when it comes to retractable leashes, it’s not all good, as there are several cons worthy of your consideration as well.

Cons of Retractable Dog Leashes

If you’ve read some of the negative articles about retractables, then you too might be wondering “Are Retractable Dog Leashes Dangerous?”, but we’re here to dispel those notions.

While there certainly are people out there claiming that Retractable Dog Leashes are Bad, this simply isn’t the case, as they’re no more dangerous than a traditional, fixed-length leash, and they offer a ton of benefits that static leashes simply can’t offer.

With that said, let’s look at the cons of using a retractable dog leash:

Retractable Leashes Could Be More Dangerous (IF they aren’t used correctly!)

If you’re not going to use a retractable dog leash responsibly, meaning that you’ll pay attention to what your dog is doing and whether or not it’s actually safe to give them more room to roam during your walks, then yes, it may be more dangerous than a shorter, fixed-length leash.

We don’t recommend using a retractable dog leash if you’re not willing to be a responsible dog owner and walker. If your goal during walks is to play games on your phone, send text messages, or do something other than watching your dog and maintaining a safe leash length, then you may want to use a shorter, fixed-length leash instead.

Retractable Leashes Could Cause Injuries (Just like regular leashes…)

We’ve read articles saying that retractable dog leashes could cause injuries to dogs and people, including walkers and innocent bystanders, but this aligns with the first con listed above; it’s only likely to happen in a situation where the person walking the dog isn’t paying attention.

As long as you’re watching your dog, maintaining a safe leash length, avoiding obstacles in the surrounding environment, you shouldn’t end up having any of the issues some of these articles professing that retractable leashes claim make them so dangerous, like friction burns.

We’re all dog owners here at Pet & Cuddle, and we’ve all got thousands of walks under our belts. We ALL use retractable leashes and none of us have ever had any injuries as a result of using a retractable dog leash.

Retractable Leashes Probably Aren’t Ideal for Puppies

It’s not a great idea to use a retractable dog leash with a dog that doesn’t already have good walking manners, like a puppy, as you could end up giving them too much room to roam and making it more likely that they end up getting injured.

The ability to change the length of the leash could also be confusing for a dog that hasn’t already learned how to walk with its owner, as it would be confusing to go from having free-range full-time, to sometimes having only 2-3 feet of length, and sometimes having 15 feet of space, all within a few seconds.

If you already know how to use a retractable leash, because you’ve done it before, understand how to manage its length, know when to set the brake, when not to use it, etc., then you’d likely be fine using one with a puppy or a dog learning to walk properly, but if you’re new to them and you’ve got a dog that still hasn’t learned good walking manners, then this could be a less than ideal option.

Who Should Use a Retractable Dog Leash?

This one’s easy to answer: under most conditions, most people should use a retractable dog leash, as for the majority of situations; the pros of retractable leashes outweigh the cons.

If you walk in good weather, have a dog that behaves at least reasonably well on your walks, you’re going to pay attention to your dog and the environment when walking them, then you’d do great with a retractable, and the many benefits they offer will make your walks far more enjoyable for both yourself and your dog.

Simply put: most people and most dogs, under most conditions, are going to have better walks thanks to a retractable leash. The pros outweigh the cons.

How to Use a Retractable Dog Leash SAFELY

Before we offer advice on picking the right retractable for your needs, let’s first explain how to use a retractable dog leash PROPERLY, as this will address all the cons, safety concerns and other potential issues that people think come with retractable leashes.

Here’s a simple guide to ensuring that you’re using your retractable dog leash safely:

Inspect the Leash Before Each Walk

Before you hit the road, please make sure to inspect your retractable leash to see if it shows any signs of damage, like a fraying leash, a brake that no longer functions properly, or any other physical or mechanical issues, then do not use it, and get a new one instead. This needs to be looked at each and every time you go for a walk, as failure could lead to an incredibly dangerous situation.

Make Sure It’s Properly Rated

This is the most important concern for anyone using a retractable dog leash; if your leash isn’t powerful enough to hold up against the weight of your dog, then of course it won’t be safe. Make sure you’re using a leash that is rated for your dog’s weight and strength, and get a new, stronger leash, as your dog gets larger and more powerful.

Pay Attention to Your Dog At All Time

If you’re thinking a retractable leash is great because you can simply let them roam at the maximum length while staring at your phone, or watching the clouds, or doing something other than monitoring your dog, then it’s time to think again. Using a retractable dog leash while not paying attention to what your dog is doing, what the environment is doing, etc., is a bad idea.

Don’t use a Retractable Leash with Untrained Dogs

As we mentioned in the cons section above, we don’t think it’s a good idea to use a retractable leash with a dog that doesn’t already have decent walking manners. If your dog doesn’t know how to walk, at all, or if it lunges at other people, or animals, starts fights, chases squirrels, etc., then a retractable leash probably isn’t your best option.

How to Pick the Right Retractable Dog Leash

When it comes time to picking your next leash, you’ll certainly want to review our Guide on Choosing the Best Retractable Dog Leash for detailed instructions on shopping for the right retractable, but if you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick bullet point list of the most important elements to consider:

  • Get the right weight rating
  • Pick a leash that’s durable, from a company you can trust
  • ONLY use a retractable with a multi-cord leash, ideally, with “ribbon” or “tape-style” leashes (NOT a single fiber, which is far more likely to break!)
  • Pick a leash length that you’ll actually use – very few people need 25 foot+ leashes, for most situations, 15 feet maximum length is going to be perfect
  • Get a leash with a “tangle-free design”, otherwise you may end up having to take the entire unit apart to fix knots in the internal workings

To make your shopping experience as easy as possible, we suggest getting your next Retractable Dog Leash from Pet & Cuddle. Our leashes are reliable, affordable and perfectly safe.