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Cruisin' Canines

When choosing a new leash for your dog, it can seem like there aren’t many options: variable lengths, sure, but other than that, there haven’t been too many innovations in that realm of dog supplies in a fairly long time. One popular option, though, is the retractable leash. While they add a bit of convenience to your dog-walking routine and can be ideal in situations where a much longer leash is needed, they can also be detrimental and even dangerous at times. Before you decide to purchase a retractable leash, you should be aware of the potential drawbacks.

Dogs Can Get Too Far Away

The first downside of retractable leashes is that although their longer length is convenient, that means that your pup can get too far away from you—up to 26 feet away in some cases. That leaves too much room between you and your dog to interfere quickly enough if something happens, like an aggressive dog approaches. They allow your dog to pull too easily, and they can also be difficult to react quickly to, allowing the dog to dart into streets busy with traffic before you or the walker has a chance to press the “stop” button on the leash.

The Retractable Cord Can Break, Tangle, and Cut Dogs and People

Another thing that can go wrong with retractable leashes is that the cord or tape within the leash can snap, fray, and break. This, of course, will likely happen at an inopportune moment—when you’re in the middle of a walk, perhaps, not just as you’re returning home. As the cord wears out, it can fail. Additionally, the cord can very quickly get wrapped around your legs, your dog’s legs or neck, or another dog’s legs or neck and cause painful cuts and injury.

Neck Injuries Can Be Caused By the Retractable Mechanism

Retractable leashes can give the appearance of being safer than other options, because if the dog gets too far away, the leash will physically stop the dog from going any further. However, this can be a problem as well, particularly if the dog is running away from its owner. As the dog reaches the end of its length, if they don’t slow down, the snapping from the leash’s cord running out can injure their necks. This should be something to consider if you’re thinking about getting a retractable leash.

The Handles Aren’t As Easy to Hold as Standard Loop Leashes

This might seem a bit nit-picky, but the fact that the handles for retractable leashes are a bit clunky can be an issue. It can be hard to get a good grip on the leash, particularly if your dog pulls suddenly. If you drop the leash, the loud noise from the plastic handle can also startle jumpier dogs. Overall, the design could be more intuitive and streamlined.

They Can Cause the Dog to Be Unruly or Leash-Aggressive

Perhaps one of the biggest issues about retractable leashes, though, is that they don’t allow you to really train your dog. Without discipline from their owner, your dog will not know when he or she has gone too far. The retractable leash design doesn’t allow for a quick pull back, rather just a retraction of the cord.

Not being able to teach your dog how to walk on his leash is a big deal—both you and your dog walker in Chicago will need to be able to control your pooch.

When it comes to choosing a leash, if you are set on a retractable, it’s best to ask your vet whether your dog is a good match for one. Otherwise, it might be best to stick to a standard leash.


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Cruisin' Canines logo of a white dog with an orange background