Know The Risks With Using Retractable Leashes

At a new dog walking client registration meeting I will ask to see where they keep their dog leash. It’s staggering to see just how many dog owners use a retractable leash. While I understand the surface appeal, I wonder how many know of the risks in using one.

Squirrels will continue to dart across the road, bicyclist appear out of nowhere, and well, dogs will be dogs when greeting each other. Such moments happen in seconds. Think I’m exaggerating? Being an alarmist? Sadly, I’m not! Literally in a blink, you or your dog could be seriously injured.

Don’t think it won’t happen to you either, I learned the hard way.

When I first started my business, I had a client that had two small dogs which we walked daily on retractable leashes. The route we walked was a long cul-de-sac road and had little neighborhood activity, the ideal road for a dog walk. One day while out on our midday walk, out of nowhere and without warning, a bicyclist went speeding past us. So close I could feel the wind on my face generated from his speed. One of the dogs had a predatory chase drive. He lunged at the bicyclist and took off running. He came when called but was so excited afterwards that he entangled him, myself, and the other dog. I slowly began the untangling process, not wanting to trip over the cord I decided to keep my feet firmly planted while I reached down, grabbed the cord and quickly passed it over my head. Just as I did, the dog took off again and the cord wrapped around my neck. Because I had my hand between my neck and the cord, I was fortunate to only sustain a few bruises. It didn’t take me long to make the decision never to use a retractable leash again.

Do you know the risks?

Injuries that can happen to you, children, or others

– Cuts, burns, and deep lacerations of hands, arms, legs, and face

– Fingers can be amputated

– Injury to face, teeth, eye, or chest when the cord or collar fails and the cord retracts back towards the handle quickly, smacking you in the chest or face.

– Serious falls from tripping over the cord

Injuries that can happen to your dog or others

– When your dog hits the end of the leash a sudden stop occurs. That impact may cause an injury to the dog’s neck, throat, and/or spine not to mention your arm and shoulder.

– If a dog darts across the street, there is a chance the stop button fails to lock and the dog may be in danger of being hit by a car.

– Amputation of dog’s leg or tail

 If you walk at night, someone passing you may not see it and trip over it.

– Because the handle is big, plastic and heavy, it can easily slip out of your hand. As the handle is flying towards the dog, it will hit him hard.

– If you accidentally drop the handle, the handle chases the dog, often spooking them and in turn, they run off.

-It encourages leash pulling.

I think you get the idea why we strongly recommend not using one. If you need more convincing, watch a manufacture’s video and listen to the warnings. I have too many shared stories from colleagues about what can happen and how quickly it happens.

Please note, that if you are one of our clients and you supply us with a retractable leash, we will replace using your retractable leash with our own nylon leash. Lovingly, I highly encourage you to do the same.

About the Author:

Michele Sarver is the owner of Totally Tails Pet Care Services, a Pet Sitting, Dog Walking & Dog Training business. Currently living on a small rural island in Washington State with her husband Pat and her cat Sierra. She enjoys island life, walking on the beach, photography, art, and is a huge animal lover.

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