You are ready to bring home your rescue dog and you go shopping to pick out all the supplies you need: collar, leash, ID tag, food, bowls, toys, treats, bones, dog bed, and maybe a crate. You walk into the store and leave after spending $500 🙂 Most new dog owners overbuy on expensive toys and stuff they don’t really need, almost like new parents having their first baby! But that’s an entire another topic.
Three of the most important items will be his ID tag (in case he should ever get lost), collar and leash. He will wear his collar every day so make sure it fits him properly. And the leash… there are so many fancy leashes out there, designer colors, many lengths, materials, etc. You may look at the retractable leash and think, wow what a great idea, my dog can roam around while we walk and I don’t have to worry about him pulling me and he can do whatever he wants.
If you already bought one, return it. Number one reason, retractable leashes are dangerous! Second, it puts your DOG in control, NOT you. The purpose of a leash is to keep your dog under your control, not to give him free roaming rights while on your walk.
I realize there are plenty of people that use the retractable leash, I personally know a few, and they love the freedom it gives their dog. But your daily walk is not about your dog having the freedom to go and sniff every tree or dog that you walk by. Your walk should be about you and your dog building a relationship, a strong bond between pack leader and her dog. That bond is not created at the end of a 20-30 foot leash!
Ask yourself these questions before choosing the retractable leash… Could you control your dog if he decided to go visit another dog walking by? What happens if that other dog is fear aggressive? Or he decides to run up and say hi to a pedestrian that is not paying attention or does not like dogs or a little kid that is afraid of dogs? What if he sees a squirrel across the street and darts out as a car or bicyclist is passing by? Long story short, you have absolutely NO CONTROL over your dog with a retractable leash.
The thin cord of a retractable leash can break, especially if you have a strong dog. Even if your dog is only 30 lbs. and he takes off at full speed, the cord can break. You now have a dog that is off leash and you’ve been injured with a cord that snapped back at you.
It’s been reported that owners have gotten tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash as the dog walks around them, causing them to trip, get rope burn, or cuts on their hands or legs.
I just heard a story a few weeks ago of a woman taking her dog out for a walk, she stepped outside and the dog saw a squirrel. The dog took off running while pulling the owner down the stairs. The woman ended up with broken ribs!
Hopefully, that is enough to convince you not to buy that retractable leash!
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Long story short, a good quality 6-foot leash. You will hopefully have your dog for the next 10-15 years so your leash is an investment. Yes, you can buy a designer leash with bright colors and patterns. But honestly, those nylon leashes will not last more than a few years or so. And if you have a chewer, a dog that enjoys chewing the leash, the nylon leash will not last very long at all. I always recommend getting a good quality leather leash. We bought two leather leashes over 20 years ago and they both are still in great condition. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the leather leash has out-lived several of our dogs.
The leather leash will give you a nice comfortable feel when you walk your dog. They are extremely durable and will last a lifetime. This one from Amazon even comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee, you won’t find that with any retractable leash or nylon leash! Do not choose a leather leash that is dyed, the color may run onto your hands if it gets wet.
UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that a retractable leash can have it’s place in training a dog the recall. And I agree, every tool has its place, as long as it is used properly. So if you use your retractable leash for training, I’d love to hear how you use it. Comment below…
P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on retractable dog leashes. Comment below to tell our Rescue Dogs 101 community all about it, then go take your dog for a walk!
Debi McKee is a dog blogger, foster home, and all-in-all dog fanatic. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for her free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.