Are retractable leashes a good idea?


By Sarah Gaziano, CPDT-KA

As a dog trainer, my favorite thing in the world to teach is proper leash walking skills. It’s one of the harder behaviors to teach a dog, and with all the different types of equipment out there, so many people try and fail. I recommend using a front-clip harness or a head halter of some kind and a 4 or 6 foot leash. I don’t use prong collars or choke chains, and I certainly don’t allow retractable leashes.

No retractable leashes?! No. Absolutely not.

Your dog shouldn’t be 30 feet from you at any given time. If your dog is even 10 feet away from you, can you control his or her behavior? Can you get your dog to come back to you right away no matter the circumstances? The outside world is full of distractions: yummy smells, squirrels, children walking by. It’s no wonder dogs don’t want to pay attention to us.

The one goal of every dog owner, whether they realize it or not, is for their dog to pay attention to them above all else. If you are 15 feet away from your dog, but that really fast squirrel is only 1 foot away from your dog, who wins? It certainly isn’t looking good for you.

Not to mention the horror stories I could tell you: dogs getting tangled up in each other leashes, random bystanders getting injured with the leash itself, or the dog having so much freedom it ran into the street before the owners knew what was happening. Even if you have the perfect dog, you never know what circumstances can lead to some unfortunate situations.

We should always be thinking about setting our dogs and ourselves up for success.

If your leash helps keep your dog by your side, you are both more likely to be happy with the outcome when another dog walks by or a bird swoops down while you are enjoying your walk. Having your leash loose and by your side will set your dog up for success and make you a better team. Happy walking!


Note: in all fairness, I should mention that there is a legit use for a retractable leash, other than using it in the bathtub as a book tether.  🙂






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