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It's the Leash We Can Do

September 01, 2022 4 min read

How to use a retractable leash the correct way 

One thing my pup Dejah and I love to do is go for a walk. She keeps me accountable; I don't have an excuse when she gives me those winky eyes. I have to get off the comfy couch and get to walking. But, as her human, it's my responsibility to take care of her. 

 Are retractable leashes good for your dog?

It's important to have the right leash for your dog. Something very popular is retractable leashes; However, a retractable leash may not be the best option for your dog. 

Please take note that retractable leashes are NOT training leashes. If your dog is still learning how to properly walk on a leash, retractable leashes can be dangerous for them, yourself, and others. 

 

Dogs that pull

The joy pet owners get from the retractable leash is that it allows their dog as much length on the leash as they want. In reality, it is the length the dog is taking from the owner. Doing this teaches the dog a bad habit of pulling by extending the leash as far as they can until they hit the stop point (where you put the break on the leash or they reach the end of the leash spool). It is also dangerous for your dog's trachea (windpipe). When the dog charges to the end of the leash, they unknowingly hit that stop point and the collar or harness attached to the leash slams into the trachea. If your dog is pulling and you hear raspy breathing, that is from the collar or harness putting pressure on the trachea (essentially the dog's weight). 

 

Safety Concerns

The retractable leash is made out of a thin flat rope and has the potential to cause serious damage. With the right amount of pressure from an excited or aggressive dog it could cause bad lacerations to whatever it wraps around. Your legs, your dog's neck, another person's dog, or legs.

If you use a retractable leash it's important not to use it with a puppy. Only adult dogs that are properly leash trained. If you are still leash training your dog, read books, online articles, and even consult a trainer that can help you determine the best training plan for your dog's temperament and abilities. 

 

My experience with dogs off-leash. 

It's important to properly leash train your dog, and it's also VERY important to use the leash. Protect our Protectors. 

My pup Dejah is a rescue who loves other dogs. She's an Australian Kelpie Cattle Dog Mix who is all ears. Just look at the picture. I'm a proud mama! She has a hard time trusting humans until she gets to know them, but seriously, she LOVES other dogs of any size and even a cat or two.

One summer night Dejah and I were taking our nightly walk and rounding our last corner to the house, just a block away. We approach a house across the quiet street where a man was unloading two dogs from the back of his jeep. One dog, a black lab, ran into the garage. The other dog, a boxer-mix, saw Dejah and jumped out of the jeep, and charged across the street. It didn't bark or show any signs of aggression. Dejah saw this dog as a new friend coming to play and was happily ready to oblige. I didn't see any reason to think the dog was aggressive and stood still to help the owner get the dog in case it bolted. As a former vet tech, I know the fear and concerns owners go through when dogs run away and the horrors of getting hit by a car. 

However, to my worst fear, the dog was aggressive and twice Dejah's size. When it was within a few feet of us, it launched itself at Dejah, tackling her. She held her own, fighting the dog as I pulled her by the harness. The owner ran over and tackled the dog holding it back so that we could finally get away. Dejah and I got away within a matter of minutes, but it felt like an eternity. She only had a few puncture wounds that required minimal medical treatment. We were very fortunate.  

The moral of the story is not behavioral or territorial aggression. It's the importance of a leash. 

Suppose I was a child or teenager walking a Yorkie or even Lab and that Boxer did the same thing. In that case, the child could've been caught in the middle of a dangerous or deadly dog fight. 

It's important to remember, that as much as we love our fur babies, they are, after all, animals. Even if our fur babies are the most wonderful and best behaved, that doesn't mean the neighbor's dog next door will be. 

It's the least we can do for each other.  

  Author: Jennifer Phagan