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Why We Don't Use Retractable Leashes

If your dog pulls you all over the place when you go on a walk, your first fallback may be a flexi (retractable) leash.  This post explains the dangers that come with using a retractable leash and why we choose to avoid them for our own dogs as well as discouraging clients from using them.

Courtesy of

More Pulling

The first issue with this kind of leash that I will mention is that it teaches your dog to pull.  A retractable leash always has a constant pressure on your dog's collar or harness.  If you are trying to get away from your dog pulling, you would be better off teaching your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash as opposed to clipping them to a device that always puts and keeps tension on their body.

Hitting the end of the leash

You only have so much distance before you will get pulled around again!  Retractable leashes only give you about 16 feet for your dog to roam.  If they decide to take off after something, they will hit the end of the leash and give both of you a very nasty jolt.  This can be detrimental to both of you.  Your shoulder will not be happy with the sudden movement and your dog's neck and throat will not be pleased with the sudden tension.  Dogs have ended up with damaged trachea's because they hit the end of a retractable leash too quickly and with too much force.  Most dogs don't understand that they only have "free rein" until 16 feet out.  Because of the potential for damage to both you and your dog, we highly recommend working with a trainer (not necessarily us if we aren't in your area) to make sure you and your dog both enjoy your walks on a 6 foot leash rather than a retractable.

Burns and Cuts

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If the retractable part of the leash gets wrapped around your leg or hand, you are in great danger!  These leashes routinely cause burns to human and canine skin and also pose a risk to removing a limb (especially if it is only a finger)!  You never want to grab the retractable part of the leash with your hands, but almost everyone does at some point or another.  Sometimes circumstances are just too frantic for you to remember not to grab that part of the leash if your dog is not coming back.


To be the safest, a dog should be on a harness so that if they do hit the end of the leash, the pressure is distributed more evenly across their chest as opposed to being concentrated on their neck.  I see many people using a retractable leash with other tools meant to help stop pulling - head harnesses, martingales, choke chains, prong collars and more.  What happens when your dog hits the end of the retractable leash with one of these tools on?  A head harness can cause severe damage to the head and neck because of the sudden stop.  The choke chain causes heightened pressure on a smaller area of the neck and poses more risk to the dog's trachea.  Prong collars have the potential to embed in the neck if they hit the end of the leash at a decent speed.  These tools are all meant to be used with extreme caution and on a leash where you can control what your dog is doing - not a retractable!


Most areas require your dog (on leash) to be under control.  If your dog is 16 feet away from you, how do you expect to be able to manage their behavior?  Conversely, if another dog runs up to your dog and is not friendly, how do you intend to keep your dog safe?  Retractable leashes have so many downsides!

I could keep going, but I think I have painted a morbid enough picture for one post.  Moral of the story - don't use retractable leashes if you want to keep your dog and yourself safe!


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