Retractable leashes are a modern invention meant to increase the control you have over your pet when in use. However, its use is typically seen as controversial amongst pet owners and experts.
Both will allow your pet to roam around while out and about or on walks. At a short distance, both function about the same. However, retractable leashes tend to have the capability of allowing your pet a little more room.
So, what are the differences? What is a retractable leash? Are they dangerous? How? All of these are great questions that you should look to answer before deciding if a retractable leash is right for you and your pet.
This article is meant to navigate you through the ins and outs of everything you need to know about retractable leashes. That includes answering all the above questions.
The answer to whether its right for you or not depends on how much more room you’d like to give your pet to travel.
What Is A Retractable Leash?
At a base level, retractable leashes are similar to standard leashes. If you’re not using the retractable functions of a retractable leash, they’re virtually the same.
Here are the main differences
- Traditional Leashes
- Are Retractable Leashes Dangerous?
- Pros and Cons of Retractable Leashes
- What Are The Risks To Owners?
- How to Use Retractable Leashes?
- In Summary
Traditional leashes are probably what you have in mind when you think of a dog leash. They’re usually leather or some sort of strong material meant to control where your dog walks when taking them out. They’re ideal for pets of all sizes.
Typically this material wraps around the neck of your pet and offers an extended length of material for you to control. The size and material of the leash will vary to accommodate whatever needs you to have.
While long leashes can be found, it’s more common to find them in a shorter length. These are ideal for small to medium-sized pets or pets you don’t want to give a lot of room when walking.
It’s hard to go wrong when considering a traditional leash. However, it won’t allow your pet the extra movement and space that a retractable leash will.
Are Retractable Leashes Dangerous?
Retractable leashes function much differently than traditional leashes.
With this type of leash, the material is spooled in a line that is stored in a handle. The owner of a pet will carry this handle in their hand. The handle extends a line of material that connects to your pet’s neck and wraps around it to control their movement.
The reason the line is spooled is to allow the extra line to give your pet more control over where they go. A built-in locking button is designed into your handle to allow you to retract the leash when you want. It’s similar to how a tape measure functions.
This doesn’t mean you’ll simply be able to reel your dog is like you’ve just caught a fish, but it will allow you to tighten the hold on your pet’s movement. In the same vein, it will also retract when pressing the button if your pet comes towards you. This will further restrain their movement.
These are a good option if you’d like to allow your pet more room to roam freely as you take them out and about. It’s also helpful because you can adjust the length of their movement and bring them back in if you feel like they’re becoming too rowdy. It’s also useful if your dog happens to frighten another person or animal when taking them out. You’ll simply have to retract your leash in and bring your dog closer to you.
While this can be great in terms of ease of use, it may come with a cost. Retractable leashes are known to have various dangers associated with them.
Pros and Cons of Retractable Leashes
In this section, the pros and cons of retractable leashes and traditional leashes will be given. Take note of how each pro and con may affect the way you use your leash and how your dog will react with it in.
In the end, it’s about choosing what’s best for you and your pet’s needs without hurting it.
Pros of Retractable Leashes
Retractable leashes, while hailed as dangerous by many, do come with a wide variety of benefits. Here are the highlights of retractable leashes:
- You’ll be able to let your pet roam more freely when taking them out
- You can retract them back to you if they become out of control or cause a problem
- The handle is easier to carry around then a simple rope of material
If one of these benefits appeases you, it can be a good idea to purchase a retractable leash. However, you should be aware of the cons before doing so.
Cons of Retractable Leashes
An increase in the benefits of retractable leashes comes with a cost. There are several things you should be looking out for when using a retractable leash.
Here are the cons of retractable leashes:
- They’re not ideal for leash training. Because retractable leashes will give more room to your dog and take it away as well, they’ll be trained to constantly pull on the leash because it’s the only way they know how to increase their movement. This can create behavioral problems down the line that will extend outside the world of leashes.
- Serious injury can occur because of the way retractable leashes work. When your finger is on the lock button, the leash will retract. If there is an issue with how the leash’s line is set up, it has the potential to snap back on the user. This leads to finger amputations, bruising, and another serious injury to your hands.
- Too much room to roam can be a bad thing. Accidents happen, you can’t stop them. A retractable dog leash will never be able to retract fast enough in emergencies. For example, if your pet is unaware of an upcoming vehicle, you may not be able to retract them fast enough. With a traditional leash, you’ll be able to force them off the roadway.
- This can also be a problem when it comes to small children or other people who are easily frightened of pets. If your pet frightens someone else, it may be difficult to bring them back and in and prevent injury from either party.
- Retractable leashes are also a bit easier to drop than standard leashes. This is because you can’t wrap the line around your hand or do anything to increase the grip you have on it. Once your pet sees the retractable leash go flying, they very well may end up bolting on the spot.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when considering if a retractable leash is right for you. Think about how you usually interact with your pet and how well behaved they are. These issues won’t be prevalent in every case, but they do present issues that need to be dealt with.
Pros of Traditional Leashes
Traditional leashes are leashes where no plastic handle carries the spooled line. It’s simply rope or nylon that attaches to your pet’s collar and provides you with a line to control it.
These are typically shorter but may be found in longer lengths as well. Here are the pros of traditional leashes:
- You’ll be able to force your pet away from danger or other potentially dangerous situations when necessary. This can be a key feature if your pet is rather large and strong.
- You won’t inhibit their leash training or cause any significant behavioral issues by using this type of leash.
- They’re generally safer for the user when compared to retractable leashes. In a worst-case scenario, your leash may tighten around your hand or arm and create bruising. However, you don’t have to worry about lines snapping your fingers in half.
- You can buy various sizes of leashes, depending on how much movement you’d like to give your pet. While it’s common to have a shorter leash for inner-city pets, if you frequently take your pet for walks outdoors, having a long leash can help them enjoy themselves more.
As you can see, traditional leashes are an overall safer option for the pet owner and pet. However, you’ll lose a bit of mobility for you and your pet.
Cons of Traditional Leashes
While traditional leashes are the ideal option when you want to be as safe as possible, that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their shortfalls either.
Here are the cons of traditional leashes:
- They’re set in their length. While you can purchase various sizes, you’ll be stuck with the one size you’re using while you’re out.
- While it’s ok to force your pet away from dangerous situations, yanking on it too hard can harm your pet. Be careful to not bruise or otherwise harm your pet if you’ll be forcing them to move.
- Overall, they’re less convenient than retractable leashes.
What Are The Risks To Owners?
Retractable leashes pose several threats and risks to the owner.
The most obvious risk is the danger that is presented to the pet. Owners may seriously injure or kill their pets by using a retractable leash if they’re not overly cautious and careful when out and about and using one.
Pet owners themselves may also risk their safety when using retractable leashes. In a worst-case scenario, a retractable dog leash may be awkwardly positioned and snap the leash into place as it retracts the leash. This has been known to severely injure the hand of the user when it happens. In some outlier cases, it may even cause finger amputation.
Beyond the physical dangers that are obvious to the pet and pet owner, retractable leashes also pose a potential legal risk to the owner of the pet. If you’re unable to control your pet because of the retractable leash, and your pet harms another pet or someone else, you may be liable for damages your pet caused. This can include legal fees and restrictions on your pet.
All of these risks must be taken into account before you decide whether a retractable leash is right for you and your pet.
How to Use Retractable Leashes?
While retractable leashes come with their obvious downsides, it’s possible to reduce the chances of dangerous situations occurring if you know how to properly use a retractable leash.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re using retractable leashes as responsibly as possible.
Ensure Your Pet Is Well Trained
The best way to prevent accidents and dangerous situations from happening is to ensure that your pet is well trained and won’t be causing problems when you’re out and about.
Make sure your pet doesn’t have any bad habits such as barking and intimidating other people or dogs, and that they won’t bolt away from you if you happen to lose control of your retractable leash.
Hold Retractable Leashes Properly
Retractable leashes should always be held by the handle. That’s why it’s there.
It’s a common problem that people will hold retractable leashes by the leash itself. This can be incredibly dangerous as snapping lines may occur and injure your hand or fingers.
Monitor The Distance
One of the biggest issues with retractable leashes is that it gives your pet too much room without leaving your room to react to any dangers that your pet doesn’t see.
You can control this by ensuring that the length of leash you have out at any given time isn’t too much. Retractable leashes will allow you to keep your pet within several feet of you.
Places Suitable To Use Retractable Leashes
Because of the dangers associated with retractable leashes, you should use them just anywhere.
Ideally, good places for retractable leashes will be wide, open areas without other dogs or people wandering around. It would also be beneficial to not be near any roads or other public places where your furry friend can run into danger.
Here are some examples of places that would be suitable to use retractable leashes:
- State parks or other areas located within the wilderness. You won’t have to worry about having to pull your pet away from any danger or about vehicles zooming down roadways.
- In your own backyard. If you’re wanting to keep control of your pet in your backyard, retractable leashes can be ideal. You’ll be able to give your pet all the space they need to roam without having to worry about having to yank them back toward you.
- Other public areas that have a low density of people and pets. The less people and other pets around you, the less you’ll need to worry about reacting to dangerous situations to your pet.
Always Be Ready To Use The Locking Mechanism On The Retractable Leash
One of the reasons that retractable leashes can be so dangerous is the locking mechanism of the leash. If you’re using a retractable leash, it’s incredibly important for you to always be ready to engage the locking mechanism.
Keep your thumb held on the locking mechanism at all times. This is to ensure that if any dangerous situation presents itself to your pet, or your pet becomes too rowdy, you’ll be able to swiftly pull them away from the situation. If you’re not prepared, your pet can gain a lot of ground and be difficult to control.
It’s also relatively common for retractable leash users to keep their hand on the cord that runs to their pet’s collar. This is extremely dangerous to yourself and will greatly slow reaction time if you need to engage the locking mechanism.
If you do keep your hand on the cord of the leash rather than the handle, be prepared for broken, or even possibly severed, fingers. If a retractable leash gets caught in a weird position, a snapping effect may occur. This snapping effect can cause the cord to move at great speed with a lot of force, which can severely injure your hand.
Always be prepared to use the locking mechanism on retractable leashes by keeping your wits about you and holding the retractable leash by the handle at all times.
At the end of the day, retractable leashes will always be more dangerous than traditional leashes. However, they come with a slew of benefits that are hard to overlook.
If properly used, retractable leashes won’t be nearly as harmful as the internet makes them out to be. Although, you should be sure that you’re always following best practices so you, or your pet, don’t become another example.