Walking my dog is my favorite part of the day. I like to take her out every morning. I get the chance to stretch my legs, breathe the fresh air, and get ready to start my day. My dog gets the chance to exercise and explore the outdoors. What new sights and smells will she find?
Walking with your dog improves your emotional and physical well-being and is a great opportunity to bond with your pup. You can spend time exploring, running, playing, training, or whatever you want to do.
Because walks are such an important part of your dog’s day, you should have the best retractable dog leash to help you out. A good retractable dog leash will provide your dog with the extra freedom to explore and run while ensuring that you maintain control.
Retractable dog leashes are a bit controversial as there are risks if you don’t take the proper precautions. We’ll discuss the conditions in which retractable dog leashes are beneficial and when they are inappropriate. Then, we’ll talk about the best retractable dog leashes on the market and help you choose the right one for your dog.
Retractable dog leashes generally have bulky plastic handles that house a spool. Wrapped around the spool is a thin, albeit strong cord. At the end of the cord is a leather or canvas strip with a plastic or metal clip that is used to attach to a harness or collar.
In the open position, the retractable leash will extend its full length. At any point, you can lock the leash usually by pressing a button. While locked, the leash will stay at the chosen length until you unlock it. You can make the leash any length you wish, up to its maximum, which is usually 16 feet to 25 feet.
Some retractable dog leashes are stronger and more heavy duty. These are great for larger dogs. Some retractable dog leashes are smaller and lighter and are better for small dogs.
Make sure you get the appropriate retractable leash for your dog, depending on her size and strength.
Freedom. The most common reason people buy retractable dog leashes is that they want to give their dog more freedom to roam and explore. Dogs are curious creatures by nature and they prefer to use their sense of smell above all others. For them to really experience their environment, dogs need to get up close and smell everything around them.
A stationary leash doesn’t allow dogs to move as far and freely to find all of the interesting smells they want to investigate without dragging you along with them. A longer retractable leash provides freedom for your dog to explore without hindering you. This also means that your dog will be getting more exercise!
Maintain Control. Even with all that extra luxurious freedom your dog gets to enjoy, you still maintain control. Your dog is still on leash and you can stop her from going too far and potentially getting into trouble, whether it’s running into wildlife, staying out of the street, or coming across a not-so-friendly dog. You still can prevent your dog from those situations because you have control of the leash.
No Tangles. As you’re walking, your dog is probably moving back and forth, stopping to sniff and running ahead. She’s probably all over the place. A stationary leash will slack when she stops and may get tangled around her legs. You’ll be constantly bending over trying to right the leash.
Retractable dog leashes don’t have this problem. No matter if your dog is close to you or far away from you, the line stays taught. Tangles are a thing of the past! If you have a dog that is constantly stepping all over her leash, then a retractable leash is for you. The frustration is over.
Comfort. The best retractable dog leashes have comfortable grips for you to hold on to. The squishy plastic handles are much nicer and easier to hang on to than wrapping a rope around your hands.
Convenience. Retractable dog leashes have locks so they can be short when you want them to be short and they can extend when you want to allow your dog more freedom. This makes them useful in any situation. Keep your dog at your side in a crowd. Give her some slack and room to breathe at the park.
If it’s pouring outside and you need to let your dog out to go potty, but don’t want to get wet yourself, you can stand on the dry porch while your dog does her business.
Training Tool. Retractable dog leashes make great training tools if you want to teach or reinforce "come when called." The retractable dog leash allows you to give your dog plenty of freedom to get pretty far away from you. Then you can use your command for come here.
If she does it, then great! Give her a reward (treat) and tons of praise. If she doesn’t, then you can give her a small encouraging tug on the leash to remind her what she is supposed to do. Then reward and praise her when she does come.
If this is too difficult, then lower your standards. Start with your dog closer to you. If that doesn’t work, then go back home and practice in an easier environment like inside your house or in your backyard. Build up to harder places like on a walk or at the park.
Extra Storage. Retractable leashes have handles that are a bit bulky (a necessity when the line is so long). You can use that bulk as a way to store plastic poop bags, hand sanitizer, or any other odds and ends you might need.
Leash Accidents. Retractable dog leashes can get tangled around poles, people, other dogs, or other leashes. Because retractable dog leashes have to be thin and strong, leash tangles can result in rope burns, cuts, or even finger amputations.
If you need to stop the leash, make sure you only hold onto the handle and never grab the cord as it can cause serious damage to your hands.
Reinforce Pulling. If your dog is in the habit of straining against the leash when on a walk, then she is not ready for a retractable dog leash. Some people think that giving their dog more freedom will prevent them from pulling, but a leash puller will pull on the leash, no matter how long it is.
Plus, changing the length of the retractable dog leash by using the locking mechanism may be telling your dog that the more she pulls, the longer the leash gets. Then the pulling will just get worse.
Training your dog to walk properly on leash is very important if you want to use a retractable dog leash.
Unclear Body Language. If your dog is pulling against the retractable dog leash, then her body language will appear as if she is tense and threatening to another dog. The other dog may think that he needs to fight back against the threatening stance, even if your dog is completely friendly.
Dropping. Because retractable leashes are so long, it is more likely that you might drop the handle, especially if your dog is running away full speed. This puts your dog at risk of entering a dangerous situation like encountering wildlife, an unfriendly dog, running out into traffic, or simply getting lost.
Dropping the handle can also cause emotional trauma to your dog. The loud noise of the handle hitting the ground may spook your dog causing her to run away in fear. The handle will then “chase” her as she tries to get away. If it retracts, it will be closing ground on her and she will have no escape from something that is terrifying her. This can cause her to have fear of her leash and fear of walks in general.
Anna is a canine enthusiast. She loves everything about dogs from their loyalty to their energetic spirits to their stubborn moments. She has a passion to learn everything she can to become a better “dog-mom” to her Toller, Penny, and to share her knowledge of dogs with all who are interested in the hopes of educating people on the best canine care.