Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley
One of the benefits of writing a column is that occasionally I get to share my views on a particular pet peeve of mine. In this case, retractable leashes. I understand the appeal of the retractable leash.
As owners, most of us want our dogs to be as happy as possible and we believe that this type of leash gives them a feeling of joy and freedom at being less restrained. It’s probably the same thinking that convinces some owners to let their dogs run loose in the neighborhood and on crowded beaches.
I admit. If I look hard enough, I know that somewhere in my house I have a couple of these leashes. I’ve used them to walk the dogs on empty beaches and on long walks in the state forest.
But there are far more situations where a retractable leash is the wrong choice. And lest you think that this is just my own personal rant, a search on the Internet brought up several websites, including Consumer Reports and USA Today, which illustrate the dangers of retractable leashes, including burns and amputations.
An example of an inappropriate use of an extended leash is anywhere there will be other strange dogs nearby or crowded city streets. These leashes do not allow the level of control that is needed for the average dog in these situations. Dogs get too far ahead of their owners, their movements are quick and most owners don’t have the reaction time to reel their dog in before an incident occurs with another dog or child. And that’s provided the leash is working properly. Often, the “lock” button, doesn’t.
And the first instinct of most owners is to grab the leash cord itself to gain control of their animal, resulting in serious burns, cuts and in some case amputations of fingers. Certainly, a vet’s office, grooming shop or pet store are places where a dog needs to be under more control than a retractable leash provides. In my dog spa, I see daily occurrences where an owner is still at the door way, meanwhile the pup has made his way out into the busy parking lot on his own. Or my personal favorite is the owner that brings two or three dogs in, all on retractable leashes. The possibility of the an owner getting pulled down, or burned by leashes that are tangled three and four times around arms and legs seems great. It’s is only when cool heads that we are able to get these poor people untied.
But before I get too carried away, let me point out that any leash is better than none. Customers give me heart failure on a regular basis by bringing their dogs to visit us without leashes. The thought of one of these dogs getting loose in the parking lot and heading down busy 14th enough to keep me up at night. Not to mention a certain spaniel that ran into Ms. Carolyn’s restaurant one morning, apparently looking for his breakfast!
Retractable leashes may be appropriate in some cases but even then, not with every dog. A dog that is exhibiting behavior problems is not a good candidate. That dog does not need to be walking 20 to 30 feet in front of his owner, gaining the impression that he is in charge. I recently conducted a training case with a small dog that had turned his household upside down with his demanding and obnoxious behavior. These bad manners had reached the point where he had begun to nip at strangers on his St (with me in hot pursuit) is walks. The first thing to go was the retractable leash. My recommendation to my training customers is to purchase a 6 foot nylon or leather leash.
An article I read made an interesting point. It suggested that retractable leashes are convenient for us, the humans. They allow is to pay less attention to our dogs when they are being walked. And that is precisely the problem.