My Love/Hate Relationship With Retractable Leashes
This post is in response to what I found to be an unusually high number of “what’s the best leash?” searches happening here on the blog.
My answer? Well certainly not a retractable one if you want something reliable. If you’re looking for a leash for your dog it’s hard to go wrong with a standard 6 foot one.
My Contradictory Opinion on Retractable Leashes
A few weeks ago I spoke out against using retractable leashes for dog walks.
I still stand by that. Retractable leashes are bad for dog walks. They’re horrible when it comes to keeping control of your dog, and they can be pretty dangerous.
But I have to confess; I use a retractable leash at least 3 times a day.
Why I Love My Retractable Leash
I’ve never been a big fan of leaving my dogs unattended in the yard. I know many people rely on a fence or chain to keep their dog safe, but that’s not something I’m comfortable with.
So at least three times a day I accompany Laika out to the yard to do her business, and I use my retractable leash every single time. I still use a standard 6 foot leash when we go for walks, but the retractable one is used for all her yard business.
We live on 3 fenced in acres, but that fence is only 4 feet high. I could just let her go leash free but there’s never a shortage of deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, moles, or cats running about. I learned pretty quickly that a 4 foot fence means nothing to a dog that’s chasing a squirrel.
And then of course there’s the times when she’s managed to catch those cute little baby bunnies & turkeys. She didn’t hurt them physically, though psychologically I’m not so sure. She just casually brought them back to me and handed them off when I told her to “drop it.”
Instead of watching my dog terrorize animals and flush out our backyard every day I opted for a retractable leash. Yes, her recall is pretty good, but it’s never going to be perfect; especially with all those pesky little squirrels are around.
And then there’s her legs. Due to arthritis one quick sprint can put her out of commission for the night. She certainly doesn’t hesitate to take off after deer, but it’s pretty sad having to watch your dog limp all night because of it.
So I use my retractable leash every day to cut down on all that chaos. I’ve had mornings where I was late for work because I decided to let her go leash free. On those fun mornings she opted to chase down those gang of turkeys, packs of deer, or evil squirrels rather than come back to me.
For me the leash is a matter of convenience. Sure I could use a long line, but my simple brain can’t get over the fact that I can just reel in a leash with the push of a button. Wheee, look at it go. For me that button is just as fun as having a lever to automatically wind up the cord on your vacuum. Wheee, look at it go.
That button works about 90% of the time. Retractable leashes, as I’ve come to find out, aren’t that reliable when it comes to working as intended.
Why I Hate Retractable Leashes
Retractable leashes are far from perfect. I’ve had many instances where Laika’s took off while on it, and those sent me falling right to the ground.
And when she does manage to run off while on it she ends up getting stuck. That stupid leash gets stuck on nearly every branch, pricker bush or bramble it comes into contact with.
Did I mention that I’m on our 4th one? Yeah, turns out they’re pretty flimsy and have a tendency to snap.
They are unreliable, and when it comes to keeping control of your dog just forget about it. You’ll likely end up on the ground, burning your hand from trying to grip the cord, or holding onto that awkwardly large handle for dear life.
The Moral of the Story
When it comes to retractable leashes I really do have a love/hate relationship. One one hand I know they’re terribly unreliable, on the other hand I keep using mine every single day for the convenience.
When given choices we opt for convenience, even if we know there’s probably a better option.
I keep buying these stupid retractable leashes because for the most they make it easy for me to supervise when Laika’s gotta do her business.
Could I just get a long line instead? Of course. But then I wouldn’t get that fun wheeee moment as I watch my leash do that automatically. I’d have to manually reel it in, and in my simple mind that just sounds like a lot more work.
Perhaps it’s more to do with familiarity. For the most part the retractable leash keeps Laika & the baby animals safe, so it must be working…
Oh how our minds have a way of sticking with the status quo, regardless of outward signs that it might not be the best option.
Perhaps one day I’ll wise up and choose a leash that won’t snap, won’t drop me to my knees everytime my dog pulls, and won’t burn my hands as I try to grab onto it. Until then I suppose I’ll just keep on using my retractable leash, it’s what I’m familiar with after all…
Do You Use a Retractable Leash?
Do you have a retractable leash? Do you use it on walks or trips to the park? Do you find it convenient? Do you love the automatic reel in button as much as I do?