Why NOT use retractable, variable length leashes?

Retractable leashes have a purpose, and they are very specific. They were originally designed for certain types of tracking and recall training with dogs. If you don’t know what those are, then you have no reason to own or use a retractable lead. You should never use such a lead for just walking your dog. The risks of such leashes far outweigh the benefits.

There are three big issues with retractable leads, the first of which is safety. Since they can effectively allow your dog to run for twenty or more feet before the end of the line, they allow your dog to build up a lot of speed. Remember “force equals mass times acceleration” from high school physics? Well, give even a small dog a twenty foot head start, and they can build up enough speed to pull you off your feet, break the lead, or yank the handle right out of your hand. That last situation can be particularly disastrous, since the handle will then retract on the lead, and the sound and motion of that big hunk of plastic suddenly whizzing up from behind can make your dog think something is chasing it, inspiring it to run faster and farther. There’s also that twenty feet of line between you and your dog, which can be nearly invisible under the right circumstances. Your dog can get tangled in it, or tangle you or another person in it.

Even the website for a prominent manufacturer of retractable leads warns of multiple possible injuries, including cuts or burns from the line, falls, eye and facial injuries, and even broken bones or loss of fingers.

You wouldn’t let your dog run free in the middle of the street, but very long leads can allow exactly this to happen. Dogs on retractable leads can and have run into traffic and been killed by cars. The following YouTube clip demonstrates one such problem.

Beyond safety issues, retractable leads just teach your dog the wrong thing: That pulling on the lead will get them what they want — in this case, the freedom to run all over the place. When they stop pulling, the lead pulls back, so the desire to pull and run away is constantly reinforced.

Finally, retractable leads may be illegal in your area. For example, the leash law in the city of Los Angeles reads, “Every person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of any dog shall keep such dog exclusively upon his own premises provided, however, that such dog may be off such premises if it be under the control of a competent person and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length.

Although this is taken from an American article, the same applies in a number of places in the UK such as areas of outstanding natural beauty during ground bird nesting season

By Dr. Becker – healthy pets.mercola.com

A retractable leash is not so much a leash as it is a length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. The handles of most retractable leashes are designed to fit comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls how much of the cord is extended.

Retractable leashes are popular primarily because they aren’t as confining as regular leashes, allowing dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks. But unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of leash.

10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash
1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.

2. In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.

3. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.

4. If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, “road rash,” broken bones, and worse.

5. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.

6. Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to “fight back.”

7. The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.

8. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorised by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.

9. Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.

10. Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven’t been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

If your dog is well trained, gentle mannered and smart enough to master a regular leash and a retractable leash without being confused, you could be one of the rare guardians that can walk your dog on any kind of leash without increasing risks to either one of you.

Pretty much all the cons of retractable leashes have to do with human error. This includes human frailty, human stupidity and lack of judgment. Simply stated, no matter how well or poorly trained your dog is, the problems with these leashes are mostly caused by people’s ignorance and lack of attentiveness. Having said that, the leashes are not tested stringently for breaking and there have been incidents where they snap causing injury to both dog and human.

They are not recommended for urban, high-density or confined spaces:

City Streets: How can you control your dog from 30 feet away in heavy pedestrian traffic?

Confined Spaces: This means the vet’s office. Many of vets have had bad retractable leash accidents in our offices. Just recently, a woman was at my front desk looking over her products and discharge instructions. She let her aggressive dog on a retractable leash scoot around the reception desk and stare down my receptionist. Already not paying attention to her dog or her leash, the woman then tried to gather her wits (and her dog) in a panic. When she jerked her dog back, it startled him, making him snarl and growl.

retractable leash injury

Trauma to People: There is a warning right on the handle to take caution with your fingers. Fingers have been amputated

when entangled in these leashes. Humans have suffered serious rope burns and deep gashes as well.
Not only can the person holding the leash get injured, but also people in the path of the long cord can get badly h

urt or knocked over. Dog fights are also more likely, and pet parents trying to break up a fight is dangerous enough without a retractable leash cord involved.

Trauma to Dogs: Retractable leashes can wrap around a dog’s leg and cause much more serious injury than a traditional leash. If the caretaker tries to retract the leash, the leash naturally becomes tighter around the victim.

Clearly, with less control over your dog at a 30-foot distance, dogs have been known to wander into the street and get hit. But there’s another problem with these leashes. If your dog is running or heading toward danger, you naturally try to retract that leash as quickly as possible. Jerking your dog back forcefully to avoid a traffic accident can also cause severe injury to the dog’s neck or back.

Recently, a dog’s trachea was ripped open — not by the vehicle that hit it, but by the intense jolt of the retractable leash when the caretaker tried to pull the dog back from the street.

Behavioral Problems:
Many behaviorists believe retractable leashes encourage pulling and not listening to commands, the antithesis of what leash training is all about.
If a handler loses total control and drops the leash, the dog can get spooked as if it’s being chased by something. The dragging handle thumps behind the dog causing fear or panic.

Walk the Walk:
These leashes present a unique problem to me. Many people don’t seem to have total control of their dog when using one. “The button. The button. Use the button,” I hear myself saying in my waiting room. There is a learning curve with this product. It’s as if you should be licensed before operating! Practice using it in a safe, unpopulated area.

Folks who think it’s ridiculous to consider regulating or warning people about these leashes are just not owning up to how easily distracted people can get in this modern world of ours. When you are multitasking, and 1 of those tasks is holding your husky on a retractable leash, the odds go up on the mayhem-may-happen meter.

Life happens while we’re thinking of something else.

Some of the information was taken from the original article listed below.http://www.petful.com/pet-health/retractable-leashes-dangerous/