Guest Post from Tom Shelby
In spite of the fact that Retractables are “use at your own peril” items, most people are totally unaware of the dangers. Retractable leashes cause thousands of injuries to people and dogs– mostly rope burns, cuts and eye injuries, but even amputations. It’s easy to see the potential problems when an unpredictable dog circles the leash holder and takes off. If the 2 legged is lucky enough not to get his legs pulled out from under him, he’s still got a nasty rope burn or cut leg. The leash wrapped around a finger while the 65 lb Lab lunges after a squirrel can easily sever the finger.
A lot of my clients have Retractables and thousands of times I’ve been asked, “What do you think of retractable leashes?” My response is to hand the dog owner the retractable and say, “I’m your dog,” holding on to the end of the leash as I walk across the room, extending it as far as it will go. Then I say, “OK, I’m Bowser, in the middle of the street and a car is bearing down on me. Reel me in! Save me!!!!!” 90% of the time I would have been smushed by the car as the dog owner was vainly trying to grab the cable and pull me in. Then I’d say, “OK, let’s see if we can save your next dog from the same fate,” and practice using it effectively.
Retractables are one hand devices. Period. Reach forward as far as your arm will go, press the lock button and pull Bowser toward you, extending your arm back as far as possible. Then, release the lock button as the retractable is reeling itself in as you are reaching forward again, locking and pulling back. Repeat this 2 or 3 times depending on the length of the leash. Bowser will have been reeled in and safely next to you in about 3 seconds or less.
Retractables are not great devices to use on busy sidewalks or in crowds. Even if you lock it at the length of a 4 ft leash, the hand holding it is useless for anything else. It is bulky and heavy, as opposed to a leash handle which you can slip around your wrist. However, Retractables are great for the untrained dog (can’t be trusted off leash) to get more exercise on walks in uncrowded areas. I’d suggest that you attach the Retractable to an “easy walk” harness which will greatly reduce pulling and the likelihood of any injury. Attaching it to a collar could cause a collapsed trachea if Bowser lunges the length of the leash after a squirrel, or whatever other tempting distraction catches his eye.
Tom Shelby is an expert dog trainer with a specialty in search and rescue dogs and is the author of Dog Training Diaries -Proven Expert Tips & Tricks to Live in Harmony with Your Dog. Follow Tom on Instagram @DogTrainerDiaries and Twitter @DogTrainerDiary
©Tom Shelby 2018