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Should You Use a Retractable Dog Leash?

While it’s easy to find articles claiming that retractable dog leashes are dangerous, the reality is that they’re safe, and far more convenient than fixed-length leashes, as long as they’re used properly.

So why are so many people complaining about retractables? Because the pet community loves a good controversy and people flock to negative news.

Simply put, just like traditional leashes, retractable leashes can also be dangerous if they aren’t used properly, so this article will explain first, why you should use a retractable leash, then second, how to use it safely.

Read on for details about the pros and cons of retractable dog leashes.

Why Should I Use a Retractable Dog Leash?

Retractable dog leashes are better than traditional leashes because they offer a great deal of additional flexibility in the way that you walk your dog.

Being able to let your dog have a longer line at will means you’ve got far more options during those walks, in that you can give them plenty of space to roam free, or keep them directly by your side, all without having to manually reign in a long leash, worrying about tangles, or carrying a bulky leash.

This will make both you and your dog far happier, more likely to enjoy those walks, and thus, more likely to TAKE walks, which are vital to maintaining your furry best friend’s health and happiness.

Retractable Leashes Provide Far More Flexibility

Because you’re able to extend and retract the length of the leash at will, using a simple brake to assure that it won’t extend further than you intend, the retractable leash offers both you and Fido much more freedom during walks.

Not only does this mean that you dog can have more room to roam and explore during those walks, but also it means you don’t have to follow their nose!

Some of us own dogs that naturally want to weave back and forth, sniff each tree, rock, or bump in the dirt, which can make walking a real chore, but with a retractable leash, we can allow our dogs to explore without having to follow them around.

Retractable Leashes Make for a More Enjoyable Walk

Because of the added flexibility, both you and your dog will have a better experience when walking using a retractable leash.

Your dog will enjoy the additional freedom they receive, which helps build up their self-confidence and allows them to burn more energy (the entire point of taking them for walks!), and you will enjoy the tangle-free, hassle-free option of giving them that space when it’s safe, and maintaining close control over them when needed.

Have you ever tried walking a dog on a 10 foot, 15 foot, or even longer, static leash? Not only is it a total hassle to have the fold that thing over itself to keep them close, leading to tons of tangles, a mess of line, nylon or rope, but it’s also a bunch of added bulk to carry, and far more difficult to adjust quickly as conditions require.

Simply put, YOU will have a better time walking your dog with a retractable leash, knowing that you have full control over the space they’re allowed to explore, all without having to focus your entire experience on managing the loops of the leash, ensuring it doesn’t get tangled around itself, your dog, or obstacles in the environment.

Retractable Leashes Will Encourage MORE Walks

Because walking your dog with a retractable leads to a better experience for both you and them, you’re simply likely to take more walks.

And what do dogs (and dog owners) love more than taking walks? Arguably; nothing! Walks are good for both humans and their pet companions, giving us exercise, letting us explore, putting us outside, and burning excess energy.

If there’s one secret to living a healthier, happier life (other than diet!), then surely it’s getting the proper amount of exercise, which that retractable leash is far more likely to encourage than a traditional, static leash.

Retractable Leashes Can Help With Training

Retractable leashes are an excellent asset for helping to train your dog for two of the most important commands that EVERY dog should know: “stay” and “come”.

By being able to extend the leash out to up to 5, 10, 15 feet (or even further!), you can create the required create space between yourself and your dog (safely!), while still maintaining control over them.

This will allow you to “practice” giving them “freedom” (while still on the leash!), so that you can work on teaching them to stay when you want, and return when called for.

This is an invaluable skill that all dogs need to learn, for safety reasons, and the assistance of a retractable leash can make teaching it far easier.

But as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, retractable leashes aren’t for everyone. In fact, some people, some dogs, and some environments simply aren’t suited for using a retractable leash. Let’s look at those next.

Why Shouldn’t I Use a Retractable Leash?

While we definitely don’t agree that retractable leashes are bad for dogs, we do agree that there are some situations or circumstances where it just doesn’t make sense to use them. What would those conditions be?

Retractable Leashes Aren’t Ideal for Dogs that Misbehave

If your dog “chases”, “lunges”, or “fights”, let’s be clear – you shouldn’t put him or her on a retractable leash. Why?

Because any dog that exhibits these sorts of dangerous walking behaviors doesn’t need additional “freedom” or “room to roam”.

Misbehaving dogs need structure and discipline, which doesn’t have to be mean, but does require that they’re limited on their leash to a space near you, where they’ll learn to “heel” until they’ve learned to walk safely.

You COULD use a retractable dog leash to walk a misbehaving dog, and simply lock it at a length that keeps the dog right next to you, but that kind of defeats the purpose of using one in the first place.

Retractable Leashes Aren’t Good for Crowded, Busy Environments

The point of a retractable dog leash is to allow the dog additional roam to roam, but if the walks you take don’t include any open areas without obstacles, then it may not be worth the investment.

If you’re only walking on city streets, on crowded, narrow sidewalks, and never finding open trails, parks, or places where it makes sense to give your dog some additional freedom, then why bother with a retractable at all?

Unless you simply prefer the handle or grip, weight and feel of the retractable to a traditional leash (many people do), then it doesn’t really make sense to upgrade under these conditions.

How to Pick the Right Retractable Leash

Once you’ve determined that you should use a retractable leash, it’s time to pick one that suits your specific needs. But how should you go about that?

First, visit our Guide to Picking the Best Retractable Dog Leash, which explains this process in detail, or if you’re in a hurry, simply follow simple guidelines:

  • Get something durable, with quality parts, including what looks like a comfortable, durable, rugged handle, and a quality leash that looks like it’ll last through the rigors of hundreds to thousands of walks
  • Make sure the leash is rated properly for your dog’s weight; don’t overdo it, strapping a huge, heavy leash to a tiny dog will add a ton of stress to their walking experience, but using a leash that’s not powerful enough for a big dog can become a safety issue too
  • Pick a leash that’s the right length for your needs; don’t go 15 or 20 feet if all you really want or need is 10 – that’s likely to be a nuisance, but at the same time, remember that the whole point of retractability of flexibility, and don’t limit yourself too short. For most people, 15 feet or so is ideal

Get the Perfect Retractable Leash from Pet & Cuddle

To simplify your shopping process, pick up a leash from us at Pet & Cuddle!

We designed our top-rated retractable dog leashes to suit the needs of 99% of dogs and their owners, offering a safe, comfortable, and reliable product at an affordable price.

Our leashes are rugged, capable of handling rough conditions, strong enough to keep your furry friend safely secured, and comfortable enough that you’ll want to use it every time you step out the front door.

Shop Pet & Cuddle’s retractable dog leashes, dog collars and dog harnesses here.