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Retractable Dog Leashes: Know the Risks

Retractable leashes are dangerous for dogs.

Retractable dog leashes are a popular tool among dog-owners. These leashes are thin cords that extend from and retract into a plastic handle. They may seem like a great idea because you can give your dog some leeway or reign her back in depending on the situation. The truth is that using retractable leashes for your dog is not a good idea. The dangers of these devices are caused by three of their main characteristics:

  • The leash is a thin cord.
  • The cord is attached to a spring-loaded mechanism in the handle.
  • The leash extends up to thirty feet.

The possible negative circumstances that can occur as a result of these three retractable leash characteristics are:

  • Retractable leashes extend too far. Some of them can reach up to 30 feet in length. Because the leash is so long, your dog will have an option to run into situations or places that can result in serious injury or death for her or other dogs and people. These include:

    • Running into a street.
    • Charging up to people or other dogs uninvited.
    • Darting in front of bicyclists or roller-bladers.
  • Getting tangled up in a long retractable leash is a real danger for dogs and people alike. Dogs can easily run around obstacles, getting the leash tangled, and you and dog can both become caught up in it. This creates a danger of falling or being injured by the leash itself, which is a thin cord and can cause damage to legs, hands, and other body parts that become wrapped up in it.
  • If you are walking your dog in a populated area on an extended retractable leash, the cord could easily entangle or trip other passers-by.
  • Retractable leashes have handles that are large and unwieldy. They are hard to handle and easy to drop. A dropped leash handle can result in a loose dog or more entanglement dangers.
  • Dogs that are timid are usually quite startled when a retractable leash handle is dropped, as it is quite loud. If this happens and the dog jumps or runs, the handle follows along, scraping, bumping, and making more noises. The poor, timid dog may be so traumatized by this that she becomes afraid of going for walks.
  • If you are walking your dog on a hard surface and accidentally drop the handle, the noise and sudden retraction may scare even a non-timid dog, causing her to run away from you.
  • Because retractable leashes are thin cords, if a person grabs the leash itself to try and pull the dog back in, severe injuries can result. These have included cord burns, lacerations, and even finger amputations.
  • It is much more difficult for a person to control the weight of a dog that is so far in front of them than one that is close. Your dog may reach the end of the leash and keep running full-speed. When a large dog is involved, this can easily result in you being pulled off of your feet and dragged. The injuries resulting from such an incident can include soreness, bruises, scrapes, and broken bones.
  • Dogs can be injured by retractable leashes, too. When dogs are running and hit the end of the leash, they can be jerked back suddenly. This can result in severe neck, throat, or spine injuries.
  • Large dogs that run full-speed and hit the end of the leash can sometimes break the thin cord, resulting in escape. You may also be injured by the snapping cord in this scenario.
  • Because of the tension on a retractable leash from the spring-loaded mechanism inside, if the dog's collar or the metal clasp breaks when the dog is close to you, you could be seriously injured from the leash flying back into your face.

If you have a very obedient, well-mannered dog, using a retractable leash in a wide-open, uninhabited space so she can have a little room to explore may be safe. However, the majority of the time, retractable leashes are dangerous for dogs, their owners, and nearby pets and people.

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