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Using a Retractable Dog Leash Right: When, How and Why

Using a Retractable Dog Leash Right: When, How and Why

 A high-quality retractable leash is an invaluable addition to your pet accessor collection. However, many pet parents don’t know how to use the leash correctly, leading to discomfort or injury for their dog or themselves. That’s why learning how to use a retractable dog leash properly is so important. If you want to know more about how to choose the right dog leash or when to use a retractable leash, keep reading. We have all the information you need to find the best retractable dog leash and use it safely. 

How to Choose the Correct Retractable Leash for Dog

If you’re wondering how to choose the right dog leash, we have you covered. There are a few factors to consider when you’re searching for the best leash for your dog’s needs. Here’s what you should pay attention to: 

  • Leash Length. A retractable leash will give you options for leash length so that you can adjust it according to your environment, activity, or training needs. 
  • Lock/Release Button. This button will allow you to lock the leash in place or allow your dog more freedom to roam as he pleases. 
  • Material. The material should be durable and easy to clean. We’ll discuss this in more detail later on. 
  • Tangle-Free Design. A retractable leash should come with a case or cover that holds the roll of tape or cord. This allows you to give or take as much length as you need for the activity at hand without getting tangled up. 
  • Lightweight. A retractable dog leash that is heavy or bulky will be uncomfortable to use each day, so look for lightweight designs that don’t restrict movement. 
  • Leash Clip. The leash clip should be high-quality and of good design so that there is no risk of escaping. Ensure that the clip is the right size and strength for your dog and his harness. 

Mind the Material Quality

One of the main aspects of a retractable dog leash is the material quality. There are a few options to choose from as you search. Here’s what you need to know about each. 


Nylon is a standard option for dog leashes. It’s inexpensive while still being incredibly durable. Plus, it comes in all colors and patterns, so you can find one that will suit your personal style. 

Nylon is also very easy to clean, so you don’t have to worry about dirt, mud, or anything else if you have an extra-adventurous pup. It won’t warp or shrink when wet, and it dries pretty quickly. 

One drawback to nylon is that it is easier to chew through if you have a dog with a chewing habit and strong teeth. Nylon can also be uncomfortable in the hand, which isn’t a problem when you choose a great retractable dog leash. 


Rope is an eco-friendly choice of leash material. It is almost as durable as nylon and is more difficult to chew through. It’s also softer and won’t hurt your hand as much. However, rope tends to get dirty very quickly and doesn't clean up as well. If your dog likes to get dirty, nylon will be a better option. 


A chain leash tends to be used more often with medium to large-sized dogs or dogs with a leash-chewing habit. You should always inspect a chain leash for damage before walks because a broken chain leash could be quite dangerous, especially if your dog pulls. 

When you’re picking out a chain leash, make sure the size and weight will work well with your dog. A chain leash that’s too heavy and large will be uncomfortable for both of you and make walking a chore. 

A chain leash can help break a dog of a chewing habit, but you should switch to a different leash material, preferably nylon, once those tendencies are gone. 

Choose the Appropriate Leash Clip 

When choosing the best retractable dog leash, look for a high-quality, durable leash clip. A secure clasp will ensure the safety of you and your dog, so you want to look for one that won’t break after the first walk. Here are the options: 

Trigger Snap Clip

A trigger snap clip is spring-loaded for extra security. This type is easy to use and only takes a couple of seconds to attach to your dog’s harness. Because the clip opens inward, any pulling your dog does will keep the clip closed with even more force. A trigger snap clip is ideal for four-legged escape artists! 

Bolt Snap Clip

The bolt snap clip is the best option for any dog. Like the trigger snap clip, the bolt snap is also spring-loaded. When you pull down on the mechanism, a bolt is released from the shaft. Releasing the mechanism closes the clip. It takes only seconds to put on and is one of the most commonly used clip types. 

Locking Carabiner

Locking carabiners are a good option for large or very strong dogs. They are incredibly secure; however, they take a long time to attach, thanks to the twisting lock mechanism. Also, they’re pretty heavy and bulky, which is uncomfortable for most dogs. 

How to Properly Wear a Retractable Dog Leash: X Simple Steps

So now that you know all of your options and what to look for, just how do you use a retractable leash? Keep reading for a few simple steps that will help you operate a retractable leash. 

  1. Select a comfortable collar or a well-fitting harness for your pup. Harnesses are the best choice to use because they reduce tension around the dog’s neck and distribute the pressure around the chest and shoulders. If you use a dog collar instead, an additional safety collar will prevent injury or escaping if the primary collar breaks. 
  2. Allow your dog some time to look at and sniff the new accessory. Give her a treat to encourage her. 
  3. Locate the D-ring on the harness or collar. On a harness, it will be either on the back or the front chest area if you choose a no-pull training harness
  4. Attach the leash to the D-ring. Make sure to clip the leash to this ring only, not the ID rings. 
  5. Once the leash is connected, put the leash at a comfortable length and hold the handle firmly as you stand. 
  6. Use a release command like “okay” to let your dog know she’s allowed to move. You can use the same command when you are removing the leash and harness, too. 

When Should You Use a Retractable Dog Leash

A retractable leash allows your dog more freedom than a traditional leash, so he has more space to explore. The leash length adjusts automatically, so you don’t have to worry about tangling or tripping. 

Retractable leashes are ideal for walking with trained and easily controllable dogs that don’t try to lunge, run, or escape. You should always control the distance between you and your dog and be mindful of others around you, especially other people, cyclists, and cars. 

The best places to use a retractable dog leash are: 

  • Non-crowded beaches. Make sure the beach allows dogs before walking. 
  • Wide-open spaces, like parks, fields, and dog training areas. 
  • Your own front or backyard. 
  • An empty parking lot. Make sure it will be unoccupied for the duration of your training session. 

Retractable leashes are not a great idea for puppies who aren’t trained yet. However, you can still use one if you keep the leash locked at all times until your puppy adjusts to walking on a leash.  A specific puppy retractable leash should be lightweight yet strong and stand up to chewing. 

15 Rules for Using a Retractable Dog Leash Safely

Retractable dog leashes are an excellent tool to have, but it’s crucial that you use them safely. Below, we have 15 simple rules for using a retractable dog leash safely. 

  1. Only use a retractable leash with one dog at a time. 
  2. Only use a retractable leash with a lock button if your dog is disobedient, untrained, or hard to control. 
  3. Check the leash’s weight limit to ensure you have the right leash for your dog’s size. 
  4. Keep the leash length relatively short when walking in crowded or high-traffic areas with the lock on. 
  5. Always inspect the retractable leash and harness for damage before using. Never use a broken leash or harness. Instead, keep a backup item for emergencies before you can replace the broken accessory. 
  6. Only attach the leash to the collar or harness D-ring, never to ID rings. 
  7. Only hold the retractable leash by the handle, never by the leash itself. 
  8. Use the lock button to allow the leash to extend or retract when you need more or less length. Press the lock button down to keep the distance fixed. 
  9. To bring your dog closer to you while using a retractable leash: 
  • Extend your arm forward and press the lock button. 
  • Take a step towards your dog while bringing your arm to your side. 
  • Release the lock button and bring your arm forward towards your dog to retract some length. Press the lock button again. 
  • Repeat these steps until you have reached the desired distance from your dog. 
  • Don’t use a retractable leash on a moving object like a bike, skateboard, or rollerblades. If you must, keep the length locked at all times. 
  • Avoid finger injuries by holding the leash only by the handle. Do not grab the tape/belt. 
  • Press down on the lock button if your dog suddenly lunges or runs. 
  • Always be mindful of your surroundings and use the appropriate length to avoid injury to pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, and yourself. 
  • Keep your dog near you and control his movements to prevent injury. Use the lock/release button. 
  • Shorten the leash in public areas or where there are other animals nearby. Use the lock to ensure your dog’s safety. 

Are Retractable Leashes Good for Dogs?

Retractable leashes are a great accessory to use with your dog. When used correctly, they are incredibly safe and will give your dog both security and freedom. The plastic handles of retractable leashes are much more comfortable to hold, which provides you with more control over your dog’s movements. Overall, retractable leashes are good for any activity with your dog. 

Get The Best Retractable Dog Leash From Pet&Cuddle

Once you’re ready to select the best retractable dog leash for your daily walks or training, make sure to look for high-quality materials and a durable design that will stand up to any activity. A well-made retractable leash should be comfortable for both you and your dog. 

At Pet&Cuddle, our dog experts have designed unique retractable dog leashes that are hard-wearing, comfortable, easy to use, and stylish. With up to 16 feet of retractable leash length, your pup will have plenty of space to roam on a nature walk. And when you’re in tighter or more crowded areas, you can reduce the length to as short as you need. The simple lock/release button and a comfortable handle make walking in any situation easy. 

Check out our incredible collection of high-quality retractable dog leashes. Don’t forget a harness to go with it! 

Questions About Retractable Dog Leashes

Still have a few questions about retractable leashes for dogs or their proper use? We’ve got this covered. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding extendable dog leashes. 

Are retractable dog leashes dangerous?

Retractable dog leashes are a very safe accessory when appropriately used. With this type of leash, you can control your dog’s distance from you without limiting movement or allowing your dog to get tangled up. 

Can a retractable leash be fixed?

If your retractable leash gets caught, won’t extend or retract, or is twisted or knotted, it’s usually possible to fix it. However, some issues can’t be repaired, so if the leash is fraying, the handle is damaged, or the lock button is broken, you should replace it with a new leash. 

Is a tape or cord retractable leash better?

A tape or ribbon-style leash will be a much more durable choice for a retractable leash. With a tape leash, you don’t have to worry that it will snap; they’re also less likely to get tangled up around you or your dog. 

What should I do if my dog pulls on its leash?

The right dog accessories, like a good dog harness and leash, will help make leash training easy. Look for a front-clip no-pull leash for persistent pullers. 

When was the retractable dog leash invented? 

Mary A. Delany invented the retractable dog leash on May 12, 1908, to reduce leash tangling and give dogs more freedom. 

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