To Retract or Not Retract
Retractable leashes and their dangerous convenience.
Let me start by saying I used a retractable leash for Athena and sometimes still do. When she was a puppy learning to walk alongside me, she was HORRIBLE! Or rather, I was horrible for not showing her proper walking manners. Bad mommy!
I bought a retractable leash for my convenience and felt it allowed her “freedom” to walk as far as she liked while sniffing the wonders of the world.
What I failed to understand is that convenience was a recipe for a dangerous disaster! Now, as Professional Pet Sitter, I have learned these reasons why retractable leashes are NOT a great option for your adventurous fur kids:
No Quality Time – Walking with your pup is a time for bonding, not just for potty time. How to properly walk with your dog is a topic for another time, but! It’s like having a pleasant stroll on the beach with your human loved one. Imagine your human significant other walking 16 feet ahead of you. Not so friendly or romantic, is it? Just think, why do you think they LOVE their pet sitters?! *wink
BANG! POW! - If your pup is a puller, one good yank, and bye-bye leash! The rigid housing mechanism that conveniently winds your leash has now become a weapon of mass destruction. At the full speed of dog, that handle can swing wildly and hit anything in its paths, such as parked cars, passers-by, and even your dog.
3. Rrrrrip! – The length of the cord is a perfect tool for clotheslining someone. The cord can get easily tangled around your dog or you. Enough tension can cause rope burn, deep cuts, and even amputation! Ouch! (Yes, even the littlest furballs have enough power to cause some damage!)
4. Iiiiirk! *CRASH - Allowing your pup to get too far ahead of you can be a death sentence. As a dog walker, I have experienced that some drivers are not very courteous to pedestrians, especially in neighborhoods that do not have sidewalks. Your dog may get the fun idea of crossing the street amidst heavy traffic and with the leash too long…
5. BFF’s FUR-EVEEEER! (or not…) Athena is one of those pups that love to meet new people and new furry friends. Sometimes her approach doesn’t look the friendliest. (My sweet girl!) A long leash makes your friendly pup look like it’s an alone roamer, and decide to have a neighborly hello with other dogs or neighbors. While our sweet babies may be the friendliest, others may not be as receptive to the welcoming and cause not-so-friendly confrontations.
After all the HORRORs I just listed, as with any tool, retractable leashes have a purpose when used correctly. Athena and I have come a long way from being a puller. 10 points for mom! Here is when I do use a retractable leash on Athena:
Hike Adventures - I like to use a retractable leash on secluded hikes with minimal human or dog interaction. Because she’s such a good girl, she is rewarded with sniffy time and can sniff to her heart’s content!
Beach Walks - I like to use them on the beach as Athena is a wave chaser! It allows her the well-deserved freedom to splish splash around while still staying relatively close. Of course, I make sure there are no other beachgoers around.
Bad Weather – Athena does not mind the rain, and sometimes I do. LOL! When I need to take her out to potty in the downpour, the retractable leash is a life-saver for me. I take her out back and stay under my umbrella while she decides where to potty.
Training Tool – I have used the retractable leash for recall practice in open spaces. I lengthen the cord and still connect with her just in case a pesky squirrel decides to distract her.
Know your fur baby and make a safe decision on whether to use them or not. If you are a retractable leash user, please use them with caution. However, I highly encourage you to choose a regular leash the next time you bond with your dog during a walk.