In theory the retractable leash can sound like a great idea. Your dog is leashed, but still has the ability to smell the roses and wander. But in fact it can be very dangerous to you, your dog, and others around.
The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their owner 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. If 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 feet away at the end of a thin string.
The thin cord of a retractable leash can break. 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. Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash. Some of these injuries include neck wounds, lacerated tracheas, and injuries to the spine.
If you get tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grab it in an attempt to reel in a dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation.
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.”
The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog. Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized 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 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.
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, retractable train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.
Your best bet is a basic 6 foot flat leash!