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The Dangers and Pitfalls of Retractable Leashes

retractable leash pugWalking is an integral part of a dog owner’s life. The explosion of pet pampering products in the past ten years has introduced hundreds of different styles of leashes for every breed and occasion. Style statements are made with rhinestone encrusted leashes or thick strips of spiked leather. Retractable leashes are available everywhere, sold by most pet supply stores and online. They come in various lengths, strengths, colors and designs to satisfy anyone’s personal fashion tastes. Retractable leashes are corded, coiled around a geared wheel, covered in a synthetic case with a handle. There is a locking option to fasten the leash to only give the dog as much as allowance as the owner wants. Dangers still occur with regular loop leashes being held incorrectly, wrists being snapped, hand lacerations, etc. Retractable leashes were designed with comfort and ease in mind, saving owners from injury. Unfortunately the safety factor of these leashes are far less than regular leashes.


Some dogs don’t need much when it comes to walking. They enjoy staying by their owner, sniffing at their leisure, and taking everything in stride. There are other dogs that need a bit more control when they walk. Retractable leashes don’t offer the same dog management that regular leashes give. With a regular looped leash, there is a direct line between owner and dog. It gives more support when a dog gets out of hand, an ability to hold the dog in check if need be. With a retractable leash the cord is attached to a handle; eliminating the direct line of communication between owner and dog.


Consumer Reports have warned the public of injury using a retractable leash. Leg lacerations have occurred caused by excitable dogs that have chased after things and cut their owners calves or thighs in the process. There have also been reports of fingers becoming detached. It is instinct to pull on the leash of a dog that is getting out of control. When an owner is using a retractable leash, the cord becomes the thing to grab. But when the cord loops around fingers and begins to tighten it may become razor-sharp.


There have been stories of panic among dogs using the retractable leash. The bulky, synthetic handle occasionally is dropped when shifting from hand to hand, sweaty palms etc. If there is a nervous dog on the other end of the leash, the loud bang may cause the dog to start. Once the dog begins running away panic sets in as he realizes he’s being chased by a large piece of plastic clattering behind him.

Long, Longer, Longest

Retractable leashes allow for owners to give their dogs the maximum amount of roaming possibilities while still technically being leashed. Most dogs are easily distracted and singularly focused. *Squirrel* Tragedy may strike if a dog has too much leeway, sees another dog across the street and doesn’t realize there is oncoming traffic. Some owners have ended up in the emergency room due to an eager dog who loves to jump and run in circles.

Some owners love them, some swear at their existence. Retractable leashes have few positive aspects and should be used with caution.

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