The Risks of a Retractable Leash

Nowadays, dog owners have a huge variety of leash options available in pet stores, grocery stores, and online. A popular type is a retractable leash, which is a spring-loaded, thin cord coiled inside a plastic casing and has a button to control the length of the cord. While a regular leash is typically 6 feet long, retractable leashes can reach up to 26 feet and allow dogs more freedom to roam while the owner still has some control over them. Unfortunately, some owners might not be aware of the disadvantages of a retractable leash, so here are some potential risks of using such a leash.

  1. According to the City of Winnipeg by-law, dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet when walking in public areas near people and other animals, except for off-leash dog parks. If found guilty, owners can face a penalty of $200 plus court costs!
  2. The thin cord of a retractable leash is much less sturdy than a standard leash. If a large dog runs away at full speed, the cord can break, and you could lose your dog. A retractable leash also allows your dog to wander away from you, and by the time you can reach her, a number of scenarios could have already happened:
    • An aggressive dog attacked your dog, and you were too far away to control the situation. This can lead to both physical and emotional trauma for your dog, which may have been prevented if she had stayed near you.
    • Your dog ate something dangerous off the ground, and you couldn’t stop her in time. If it needs to be surgically removed, it could cost you well over $1000!
    • Your dog happily bounced up and down when a child approached, and you unintentionally injured the child.
    • A squirrel was spotted across the street, and your dog veers off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic.
  3. A thin leash can cause cuts and burns to the owner when they pull back their enthusiastic dog. Retractable leashes have also made the news when one girl’s leash snapped and recoiled into her eye, causing major trauma, and another girl lost the tip of her finger when she lost control of her large dog while the cord was wrapped around her finger. On the other end, if a dog sprints away until the leash reaches its end, she could suffer serious injuries to her neck from the sudden jerk.
  4. Retractable leashes are not ideal for training dogs to heel; these leashes encourage dogs to pull because doing so gives them more freedom! A well-trained dog who is willing to walk beside you without fuss is much more enjoyable, not only for you but also for everyone around you.

If incorrectly used, retractable leashes can pose a risk to you, your dog, and nearby people and animals. Please exercise caution when using this leash, or opt for a regular lead instead.

Written by Stephanie, ACA