I’m going to just come out and admit it. I sometimes use a retractable leash on Kitsune. I’ve been doing so for over 13 years now without a single issue.
I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding their use. In most situations, I agree that regular leashes should be used over retractable leashes. I also don’t deny that retractable leashes do come with their share of problems. Most of which are caused when they are used irresponsibly. However, I also believe that, under the right circumstances, retractable leashes can be a great tool to give well-behaved dogs a little extra freedom.
Like any other tool, anyone who is going to use a retractable leash should learn how to do so safely and responsibly. Whether you already use a retractable leash or are thinking about starting to use one, here are some safety tips you should always follow.
Using any type of leash never replaces training.
This is especially true when it comes to retractable leashes. I didn’t start using a retractable leash with Kitsune until after he had learned some basic commands, including coming when called, leave it, sit, stay, and heel. Kitsune knows not to pull hard when/if he gets to the end of his Flexi. He runs to me if I call him. He walks just as nicely next to me on his flexi as he does on his regular leash when I ask him too.
Respect is key.
It’s rude to allow your dog to run up to another person or dog without permission. Flexi leashes allow your dog to get further away from you. They require a little bit more vigilance on your part. For the most part, I don’t use retractable leashes with Kitsune if other people are around.
Stay alert and know your dog.
When you are walking your dog on a retractable leash, it’s important to be walking your dog. As in, paying attention to your dog at all times and not talking on your phone, listening to music, or being otherwise distracted. Don’t use retractable leashes in potentially dangerous locations, such as crowded areas or near busy roads.
Only use retractable leases in appropriate environments.
I would never use our Flexi leash to walk around in the city. I use ours mostly in wide open places, especially where there are no other people/dogs around. For example, I like to put Kitsune on his retractable leash when we go to the park, the beach, and sometimes on hikes depending on the area.
Select the correct gear.
Many of the dangers you hear about retractable leashes can be mitigated by selecting the correct products for your dog. If you’re worried that dropping your retractable leash will frighten your dog and cause him to bolt, a simple wrist strap can be added. This way, if you do loose grip on the leash, the heavy part of the leash will hang from your wrist instead of falling to the ground.
Retractable leashes come in different sizes, strengths, lengths, etc. Take the time to select the one that is right for you. If you are worried about corded leashes, you can get all nylon Flexi leads (this is the type I use). Also, check your leash often for signs of wear or damage, and replace as needed.
So many of the issues I’ve heard or read about involving retractable leashes had to do with human error.
I don’t think that retractable leashes themselves are bad. But they are not by any means appropriate for every dog or in every situation. Part of using a retractable leash responsibly is having the common sense to know when you should not use one. That may mean not using them in certain environments. Or maybe not using them at all if they are not suitable for you or your individual dog.
Unfortunately you can be the best dog owner in the world, but there’s nothing you can do to control the actions of other people. I definitely do understand why some people get nervous when they see other dog owners using a retractable leash. What do you think? Do you love or hate retractable leashes? Or do your opinions fall somewhere in between? Comment below!