The Dangers of Retractable Dog Leashes
As professional dog walkers in Miami we handle various sizes and breeds of dogs on a daily basis. A leash comes hand in hand when walking dogs. Many of our pet parents have specific preferences; some use a harness, others have a gentle leader or, most commonly, a nylon leash. But when an owner asks us to use a retractable dog leashes we cringe! Why, you may ask? This eye-opening list will make you think twice! A retractable leash’s few extra steps of freedom may seem rewarding to give your dog, but it comes with a worse risk. Understand all of the hazards before putting your pup, yourself, and innocent bystanders in danger.
What Are Retractable Dog Leashes?
Unfamiliar with retractable dog leashes? This leash is “a length of thin cord wrapped around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle that fits comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls the amount of cord that’s extended.”
Top Ten Dangers of Retractable Dog Leashes
- Control: The average length of retractable dog leashes is 26 – 30 feet. No one has control over their pooch with that much length between them. At that distance a dog can sniff out trouble, gobble up dangerous food, or be confronted by another unexpected animal.
- Injury: Humans and canine are at risk for injury. A person who comes in contact with a moving cord can experience extreme burns and cuts. A cord wrapped around any extremity can cause severe bruising or even amputation. The same rule of thumb can be applied to dogs. If a leg gets caught or tangled in the cord it can cause serious injury.
- Runaway Dog: A strong dog, if excited or aggressive, could unexpectedly pull the leash from your grip. A dog on the loose can mean unlimited dangers. If the pet parent does manage to hang on and falls down, being dragged behind, could experience scraping, bruises, broken bones or worse.
- Malfunction: Most mechanisms wear out after over usage. The button or levers inside could stop working or start sticking. The cord can thin or wear and with a heavy tug or pull has the potential to snap.
- Neck Injury: An owner is as guilty as the dog when tugging on the leash. If a parent sees their pup doing something they shouldn’t the first reaction is usually to jerk Fido back with the leash. Or your dog could suddenly lunge at a squirrel or another approaching dog. Either scenario can cause stress to the spinal cord, cause neck injury, and trachea issues.
- Bad Habits: You are unknowingly training your dog to pull away when walking. When they pull, the human reaction is to give more lead by releasing more rope. Referring to the old rule of Pavlov, if the dog is rewarded (with more lead when they pull), they will keep repeating this behavior. Unfortunately, in this situation it is a negative response.
- Innocent Bystanders: How often do you see other people and dogs when out for a stroll with Fluffy? If in an active neighborhood like Brickell or Coconut Grove, more often than not, right? When pups stop to say hello they tend to run in circles, sniffing and getting to know each other. Typically leads get intertwined with humans and dogs in the mix. If this happens with an aggressive dog, all involved parties are in trouble.
- Pet Protection: You should be walking your dog with a slack, relaxed leash. When issues arise, such as an approaching dog, it’s best to keep calm and not tighten on the leash. However, if your pet is far off and a dog attempt to attack her, you have no control. Chances are you won’t be able to reel her in safely. You may not have control over the stopper, and it’s hard to grab the rope as it will burn your hand. It’s better to avoid putting your dog and yourself in this situation.
- Sound: The sound of a bulky retractable leash handle on the cement is enough to make anyone jump. If the pet parent accidentally drops the handle, spooking the pup, they could bolt. Then the noise of the dragging leash behind the dog can really cause a runaway dog issue.
10. Standard Warnings: These are the common warning labels listed in bold on retractable leash covers:
- Eye and Face Injury
- Cutting, burning, and finger amputation
- Never wrap leash around fingers or other body parts
- Injuries to bystanders
This list is full of potential issues and “what if” scenarios, but you have to be prepared when in charge of another life. Hopefully, this is enough information and persuasion for any pet parent to make the switch. After researching this topic we were astonished at how many accidents, horror stories, and injuries were recorded from this specific type of leash. The next time you go use your retractable leash, think twice!
A founding member of the Equipaws family, Frankie can mostly be found working behind the scenes, helping co-create online branding, managing several social media accounts, designing brand collateral, writing copy, and managing events. She also fills in for pet sitters and dog walkers when needed in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and South Miami. Her own small pack consists of Boots the Shih Tzu mix and Nutmeg the Chiweenie.