Why Are Retractable Leashes On Dogs Bad? Best Alternatives

I don’t think my position on retractable leashes can be stronger. I detest retractable leashes. As a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience and 30+ years working with dogs in various settings, the worst “invention” in the dog world was the retractable leash.

Why Retractable Leashes Are The Worst

  • They’re not strong enough to hold a determined dog from something it wants. Even your little Chihuahua will be difficult to reign in when agitated enough.
  • “Retractable” is subjective – you can easily retract the leash only if your pet is heading towards you or you are running towards your out-of-control dog. Otherwise you have to grab the string-like leash and try and pull it towards you. I’ve received more than a few “rope burns” on my hands at the vet clinic from trying to help restrain a dog in the lobby who was on a retractable leash and going after another dog
  • You have zero control over your dog once they are more than 6-8 ft away.
  • If your dog gets scared by something and begins to run around you or someone else, the leash will entrap your legs and cause you to fall. Also, “rope burns” on ankles are the worst.
  • When your dog reaches the end of the leash there is a sudden stop that can not only hurt your dog’s neck when they go from running to a dead stop but also injure the leash holder’s arm, wrist, hand, or neck from the sudden jerk. There’s no in-between in terms of tension.
Zero Control Over These Dogs

If You’re Going To Use A Retractable Leash Anyway…

  • Keep it locked unless you are alone and your dog is fairly responsive to calling him/her back to you
  • Don’t allow small children to hold onto this type of leash
  • Be prepared to have to move towards your dog to “reel” him/her in – wear proper shoes when you’re walking
  • If you have a smaller dog, use a harness instead of a collar. A harness is easier on a small dog’s neck and throat and will help to prevent injuries that can result from a sharp pull on a collar.

Why Do Vets Hate Retractable Leashes?

  • Weaker than traditional leashes
  • If just one person walks into an animal hospital with their dog on a retractable leash that isn’t locked with the dog close to the owner, general chaos and/or dog fights ensue when the “out of control” dog starts running around in the midst of some very anxious dogs at the vet.
  • Extremely easy to wrap the owner’s legs with an ever-lengthening cord and pull them off their feet
  • Trying to reel your dog in with a retractable leash is painful – the thin cord is difficult to grab and pull for most people

Best Alternatives To Retractable Leashes

BAAPET 2/4/5/6 FT Strong Dog Leash 

Why I Like It:

  • Extremely strong – the leash is made from rock climbing rope
  • Reflective so it’s easy to see at night
  • Super comfy padded handle

AUROTH Heavy Duty Bungee Dog Leash

AUROTH Heavy Duty Bungee Dog Leash

Why I Like It:

  • Bungee cord allows for some “give” when walking – if your dog is prone to sudden starts, this bungee will help to decrease the chances of injury to the neck or your hand/wrist.
  • Comes with a car seat belt attachment
  • Very durable material

lynxking Dog Leash Slip Rope

Why I Like it:

  • This is the perfect training leash for most dogs
  • Doesn’t require a collar
  • Requires the human to focus on training the dog

Kensington Horse Lead Rope

This is actually what I use for my big dogs when I walk them at home.

Why I Like It:

  • Comfortable on my hands when I need to pull my dog back
  • 10 ft allows for a bit more roaming capability
  • Extremely durable
  • If you have a dog that likes to chew its leash, this particular large-diameter leash is harder to chew through

Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API