Retractable dog leashes are very convenient tools for letting your pooch explore its surroundings while still retaining some degree of control over its movements. While there is a lot of controversy regarding its use because of the many potential dangers it poses not only to your pooch but also you, other people, and other pets, with the correct mindset and understanding of what needs to be done to make walking dogs with retractable leashes a lot safer for everyone, these contraptions can make for excellent tools for you to satisfy one of your pet’s innate needs. Also critical is your choice of the best extendable dog leash so you’ll be in a much better position to control your pet while addressing its need for freedom. These 10 best retractable dog leashes can help you identify the most appropriate one for your mutt.
Retractable Dog Leash Buying Guide
A leash is a great tool for training pooches especially in the earlier stages where they are still learning to listen and respond to your calls or commands. Typically there are two types of leashes, the conventional short leash and the longer extendable cord.
Despite the fact that retractable dog leads have taken a lashing from animal experts especially veterinarians as well as animal rights groups, many still consider them to be exceptionally useful not only in training mutts but also in providing them the level of freedom that they deserve.
One of the major issues that people have about the use of such leads is the lack or insufficient amount of control the owner has over the dog. If you lengthen the cord to its maximum, you are essentially extending the distance between you and your pooch. For your pet, this means freedom to do what it likes. Unfortunately, if it suddenly crosses a street or if a more vicious dog suddenly attacks it, the extra-long cord will make it quite difficult for you to control or even protect your pooch.
Another issue is that with a sudden jerk on the cord, it is possible that it will snap. And because your mutt is more than 20 feet away from you, it would have already been in the next corner before you can even start running. The sudden jerk also places a risk on the integrity of your pet’s spine. There have been incidents of mutts getting spinal injuries because of the sudden jerking motion on the leash. Not only is there the risk of injury to your mutt, you also run the risk of injuring yourself. If your mutt happens to exert a more forceful pull on its lead, you might be drag to the ground leading to cuts, bruises, bumps, scrapes, and even fractures.
You are also teaching your dog to pull on the leash, rather unwittingly. The point is that dogs learn that by pulling and tugging on the flexi cord, they are able to increase their space and hence, freedom.
These are all valid concerns. The great news is that there are things you can do to help you dispel any safety concerns other people may have about these flexible leashes. It is thus, critical to choose and purchase only those that have certain features which can help allay these fears or concerns.
Benefits of Using a Retractable Leash
Any product can have its own set of pros and cons. While we have already shared with you some of the reasons why experts are saying retractable leashes should never be used on dogs, you would definitely be relieved to learn that there are benefits of using a retractable leash, too. We’ve listed some of the more common below.
Allows dogs to be dogs.
Dogs in the wild are not limited in their exploration. There are no leashes to tie them down. While one can always argue that the pooches we have in our homes are definitely not the wild ones, they will still need some degree of freedom to be themselves, to be the ‘dog’ that they ought to be. Getting a retractable lead can help provide them with a certain sense of freedom to wander and explore. This is especially true if you have mutts that are mostly happy if they get to go on a sniffing adventure without you having to nudge or pull them every now and then. The considerable distance between you and your pet can somehow be interpreted by your mutt as a sign of letting its true canine nature to run free. And you know how this can help in the development of a healthier dog psychology.
Part and parcel of an extensible lead is that you can easily vary its length. If you are in an area where there are simply too many obstacles or perhaps a lot of people or pets, then shortening the cord to the length of a standard leash is easy. If you want your mutt to stay by your side in these circumstances, then you can shorten the length of the cord and lock it in place. But once you are already in an open field where there are no obstacles or risks to you and your pet, then you can lengthen the cord again. Technically, the responsibility for adjusting the length of the lead falls squarely on your shoulders. This way you can ensure the safety and need for exploration of your pet.
Can be used for recall training.
Teaching your pooch to come to you when you call its name is an important task for any serious pet owner. This increases the safety of pooches whenever they are outdoors. A well-trained mutt will immediately run to its owner when it is called. Like any other canine training, recall training can take a while to master. The trick is to allow your pooch to move or wander progressively farther away from you. This is where a retractable leash can truly help because it eliminates the need for multiple leads.
For example, on the first stage of recall training you will let your dog to wander within 10 feet of your location. Once it learns to come to you the moment you call its name or let out a sound, then you can increase the distance to 15 feet, then 20 feet, and so on. If you don’t use an extendable lead, then you will have to purchase 3 to 4 leashes of varying lengths. A retractable pet leash, especially one that has unusually long cord, will be very instrumental in your canine recall training.
May be more useful for persons with disabilities.
Individuals who have physical limitations can benefit a lot when they have assistance dogs that are put on a retractable leash. While well-trained assistance dogs don’t necessarily need a leash for the simple fact that they are trained to obey their masters, there are still those that may require some form of control. For instance, if the person cannot stand up and would like to perform a task, he can actually command his pet to perform the task from a distance. Moreover, because of the longer cord of these types of leashes, the risk of the cord getting caught in the wheels of the wheelchair is technically lower than standard leads.
May aid in canine elimination.
Can you easily pass your poop if someone is standing right beside you? We can only guess that your answer is ‘no’. While you may think they don’t need privacy when they need to potty, some dogs simply cannot pass efficiently with their masters standing beside them. Some pooches would want some degree of privacy when they have to go. Having an extendable lead should help them go somewhere hidden, more private to do their business. It may seem so absurd, but it really helps.
What Length of Leash Do I Need for My Dog?
Given that the main difference between a standard and a retractable dog leash is in the maximum length of the cord, it is thus, important to identify the best possible length of leash that is best suited for your dog.
Standard dog leashes typically range in length from 4 to 8 feet, although 6 feet is a very popular option. You should choose this length if you require absolute control over your dog such as during obedience training and behavior modification training. If you run or jog on a daily basis, it is also a good idea to have a leash that is shorter in length so you can control your mutt to run alongside you. More importantly, choose the shorter length of leash if you are in high traffic areas, locations with substantial hazards and obstacles, and relatively tight spaces.
If you require versatility in the amount of control you exert over your pet, then a retractable leash is perfect. These can be as short as 4 feet and fully extended up to 30 feet. It also comes with a locking mechanism that helps ensure the length of the cord stays at the level you want it to stay. So, if you require absolute control such as when using a standard dog lead, then you can simple adjust the nylon cord length to the shortest possible setting. If you want your dog to enjoy its freedom, allowing it to explore its surroundings, then you can adjust the cord to its full length.
Tips When Walking with a Retractable Leash
Retractable or not, a leash is a great tool if you’re going to take your pooch for a walk or even exercise. However, because there are issues about the risk of the cord getting entangled or even the risk of strangulation on your pet, it is important to learn how to properly use a retractable leash. Here are some tips when walking your mutt using a retractable leash.
- Plan your walks – We have already mentioned that extendable leashes should never be used on areas with high traffic or where the leash can get entangled on obstacles. That is why it is imperative to plan your walk. Make a mental image of the location of hazards or obstacles so you can steer clear of these when you’re already in the area.
- Inspect your surroundings – Think of yourself as the pivot or the center of a large wheel. On the periphery of this wheel is your pooch. You will need to inspect and assess what is inside this ‘wheel’ as well as its immediate vicinity. This way you can make adjustments in the length of the cord.
- Pick a leash that’s highly visible – Because your pet will be farther away from you, other people in the area might see your pooch but not you. They might mistake it for a loose dog and report it to animal control. Having a leash that comes with a reflective material or is highly visible even from afar should help prevent this incident.
- Use only a length that you can really handle – The shorter the length of the lead the more control you have over your pooch. Try to determine the length of cord that you are most comfortable with. If you’re confident that you can still control your pooch at maximum distance, then by all means, do it.
- Don’t use a retractable leash on strong and large dogs – Large and powerful dogs should always be put on a standard leash. One mighty jerk from them and they’re off if you will use a retractable version.
These 10 best retractable dog leashes are excellent tools for walking and even training your pooch. However, it is important that you know how to use these to help prevent the issues associated with faulty usage. Knowing how to use also optimizes the many benefits that it can give you and your pet. It is also important that you learn how to walk your pooch on a retractable leash. Only by using these types of leads in the correct manner can you realize the usefulness of such devices.