The Retractable Lead!
We don’t always think ahead to the possible negative incidences
Many dog owners delight in the idea of a retractable leash, believing it gives their dog their freedom to roam and run while still connected with their owner.
Unfortunately, until something awful happens, or almost happens, we’re devoted to the notion that our dog is loving his freedom, is happier on a retractable lead, that he can sniff at will and cover more ground and drain more energy than on a four-foot leash walking beside or behind us. We don’t always think ahead to the possible negative incidences that can happen when a dog has a head start of three seconds and 15 feet. Potential negative consequences of using a retractable lead include: People have panicked, have not been able to quickly lock the cord, have grabbed the cord causing severe cuts and rope burns on their legs and hands – coupled with a dog bite from a startled and nervous dog. Many humans are injured by retractable leads every year.
Consumer Reports found their were 16,564 hospital-treated leash-related injuries in 2007, including cord burns, falls and even finger amputations! When the dog runs around a wooded area, there is the chance of the dog choking and injuring the trachea while trying to untangle themselves from around a tree, before you manage to get to them. If the cord is too long, the dog can get way ahead of you and turn a corner where you can’t see what possible trouble there may be ahead. When getting two or more unfamiliar dogs too close together (invading the others space), it can cause aggressive behaviours to break out. If you let out too much cord in a populated area, such as the park where there are many people walking their dogs, you have the problem of getting the cord entangled with another leash or object.
Common, increasing scenario: a dog pulling in front that doesn’t notice a car backing out of a shrub-obscured driveway – the oblivious owner, 20 feet behind, speaking on a mobile phone or distracted by what they are listening to on their headset the car doesn’t see the dog and the dog gets knocked down. Dogs darting into the street into the on-coming traffic, owners unable to jerk them back from afar, dog is knocked down/killed. A young dog attacked by another dog when the two meet at a blind corner. The pup, far from its owner and unable to be kept restrained, leaps goofy and playfully at the other dog and suffers the consequences.
A well-mannered dog that, at a blind corner, gets bashed into by a child or adult on a speeding bicycle, skateboard etc. Danger can arise in the form of some ill-mannered dog on a 30-foot retractable lead, pulling its owner down the footpath toward you, sometimes causing dogs and owners to become entangled and/or aggressive because they feel trapped and vulnerable. One concern arises when children or persons of small stature are handling a dog that pulls away from them. In this situation, the heavy handle of a retractable leash bounces behind the dog if it breaks free. The dog may think something is chasing him and could run into traffic.An unruly or overactive dog not only is a danger to itself if it takes off on a whim, but also could pull over the leash holder if it’s got extra line to build up speed.
It is easier for a dog on a retracting lead to give chase over enough distance to catch a fast-moving object. It is difficult to see the cables against pavement or other darker surfaces. This poses a risk to those moving swiftly who may try to manoeuvre between what appears to be a loose dog and a human. A runner, cyclist or motorcycle running into a cable can cause serious injury to the rider and the dog. One huge mis-conception and assumption is that retracting leads reel dogs in. The leads work by allowing a cable to extend when a lock is released and tension applied.
The unit rewind the lead only when the tension on the lead is eased. In order to get the dog closer, the dog either has to walk towards the human, stop walking and allow the owner to catch up or the owner has to perform a ‘retraction two-step” (lunge forward, shorten the cable, lock, release the lock, move forward, shorten the cable, lock, repeat). Even with small dogs, the tension when the lock is released is not enough to pull the dog back to the owner. If desired, the dog can keep pulling and not allow the lead to shorten. This can present a potentially serious problem. Other concerns are the lock failing and the difficulty in holding the box’s handle. These leads are harder to grip than a fabric or leather loop making it easier to be pulled free.
The best way to find out is to make the comparisons yourself: get your hand in a traditional lead loop and have someone pull it realistically as a dog would. Now, do the same thing with a retracting lead. Which one can you hold more securely? Should you be caught off guard by the lock failing and the sudden jerk of the lead as the dog hits the end of the cable, is there a more definite chance the box may be ripped from your grasp? Most retractable leash packaging includes directions for use and a warning to not use this type of leash around children or infants. A retractable leash should never be used as a stationary leash attached to a pole or other object. Now, let’s address the positive use of a retractable leash.
A retractable leash can be used as an effective training “tool” as long as the responsible dog owners using it understands its proper use and limitations. A retractable leash is great for training your dog to do such things as fetch, return and recall (teaching your dog to come to you on command.) It is useful for letting your dog out in your back yard when it is raining or snowing if you are reluctant to go out yourself. Used informative, it is great to use if you are a disabled person or senior who can’t walk very far or doesn’t have a fenced in yard and would like their dog to go out while still in their reach.
Retractable leashes are best and most safely used at the longer lengths on dogs that are well lead-trained. A retractable leash tends to work best on dogs who are well-controlled and do not tend to pull away from the handler. To effectively use a retractable leash, the handler must anticipate when he or she will need to restrain the dog because, the majority of the time, the animal is already in front of the walker. Therefore, the handler cannot wait too long to use the braking mechanism. As discussed above, retractable leash companies tout the advantage of giving the dog a sense of freedom while allowing the owner to restrain the dog. If a dog has good leash manners and solid voice control, a retractable lead can allow the dog a chance to poke and sniff more without being loose.
For safety sake, walk the dog to your desired spot on a regular leash and switch to the retractable (never remove one lead until the other is secured). Just be aware of the surroundings. If you see or hear others sharing the trail with you, put the dog back on the regular leash immediately. Be aware of park and/or local regulations. Used correctly, a retractable lead can allow the human to sit or stand in one spot while the dog gets a chance to poke around with less risk than if he wanders loose (Is this really what‘walking your dog’ should look like – a positive, interactive bonding experience out in the open or is this the couldn’t be bothered option?’). Since the lead maintains tension, it will not tangle around the dog’s legs as easily as a long leash. However, the constant tension can desensitize dogs to constant tension if owners do not teach good loose leash walking manners.
Dogs must learn loose leash manners before using a retracting lead for anything. However, for the average dog in the average neighbourhood or path in a park, retractable leads are not a safe alternative. The best lead for walking is no longer than six feet. When compared to other leads (four or six-foot leather, canvas or nylon), retracting leads do not offer adequate control or security for most conditions. I’m sure you will have your own, both positive and negative experiences to add here. Get in touch and add to our information. So, when faced with so many concerns, what needs to be considered BEFORE using a retractable leash? The leash should not be used with an untrained dog. If your dog pulls on the leash, shoots off exploring at high speeds or refuses to come when called, look for another product.
The leash is less than ideal in crowded situations, as it is easy for you to get distracted and for the dog to get tangled up with another dog and owner.
Be aware of where the retractable line cord is and never, ever grab it with your bare hands. Also, be careful that the line doesn’t wrap around fingers or legs it can cut or burn if moving quickly. Even if you do have a well-trained, dependable dog, make sure to read the safety information to be informed about the issues of using the retractable leash. There are many leash options, including the retractable leash, please do some research and/or ask for advice before deciding what is right for walking your four-legged canine companion. Back Remember: if you, your family or friends have any issues or concerns with walking your/there dog, Canine Coaching is here to help.