The Dangers of Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes are not only difficult to control, but they can also be dangerous to you and your pet—even for well-trained dogs on their best behavior. Below are some of the dangers of these popular leashes:

The jerking stop of the leash can cause injuries to the pet. Once the leash has run out of cord, or the human hits the stop button on the handle, it results in a sudden jerk that can cause neck wounds, lacerations to the trachea, and injuries to the spine.

The cord can cut, burn, or even amputate the walker. If the human gets tangled in the cord or grabs it while it is retracting or reeling out, serious injuries can occur.

Retractable leashes don’t offer enough control. If your pup is 15 to 20 feet away from you and an unfriendly dog approaches, it’s extremely difficult to pull them back to safety. In the few seconds it takes to reel in your pup, both dogs could be facing serious injury if a quick-moving fight occurs. Dogs can also easily dart into traffic or eat something toxic while walking far ahead.

The leash handle is bulky. This allows the handle to easily be pulled out of the human’s hand easily. It can cause injury to the pet if it hits them, and the loud sound could alarm them, causing them to run away.

Cords can easily break, tear, or fray. If the pet on the other end is powerful and takes off running full speed, the cord can snap. This may injure the human walking them as the cord comes snapping back toward their body and face. Also, the constant retracting of the cord can cause it to rub on the handle, creating frays that can eventually tear with little force or tension.

The leashes can be a tripping hazard. The cord can easily get tangled around the human’s feet, and it can pile up if your pet suddenly stops while the cord is completely extended.

Retractable leashes can encourage bad walking habits in your dog. These leashes can teach dogs to keep their distance from their human on walks. And, because the retractable leash never slackens, it encourages them to pull.

Opt for a six-foot leash as an alternative to a retractable leash.

Santa Barbara Humane’s behavior team can suggest supplies and techniques that will help keep you and your pet safe on walks. Visit sbhumane.org/training to get in touch.