Why We Don’t Like The Retractable Leash: The Pros and Cons

Retractable leash The retractable leash – one dog parent may love it while another might share a horror story about their dog and their retractable leash.  Sure, the retractable leash is the perfect option in theory because, quite simply, it promises convenience.

You can easily keep your dog right next to you, with the leash retracted, while you stroll through crowded areas.  Then, when you hit the open space, you just push a button to give your dog the freedom he loves.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  Wrong.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of retractable leashes.

The Pros Of The Retractable Leash

  • Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

Of course, arguably, the biggest advantage of the retractable leash is the freedom it gives your dog.  All pet parents want the best for their dogs and who can argue that a dog with freedom is a happy, carefree pet?  Some retractable leads allow dogs to walk up to 30 feet from their walker.

  • Your Dog Enjoys More Exercise

If your dog has more room to run, he will surely get more exercise, right?  And, a tired dog is a happy, relaxed dog.  With a retractable leash, you can allow your dog to walk faster or even run while you stroll behind him, holding onto the leash.

  • Keep On Pace

With a retractable leash, your dog can walk at his own pace and you can walk at yours.  He no longer has to tug on the leash to urge you to walk faster and you don’t have to keep pulling him back to slow him down.

The Cons Of The Retractable Leash

By this point, retractable leashes might sound like a dream come true for any dog. But, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of retractable leashes:

  • You Have To Train Your Dog How To Use The Retractable Leash

You can’t simply attach the retractable leash to your dog’s collar and start walking.  Well, you can, but you’re likely headed for some problems – maybe even disaster – if you do.  You will have to understand how the retractable leash works and your dog must know a minimum of the basic commands, so you can instruct him to come, for example, when it’s time to reign the leash in.

  • You Must Be Constantly Vigilant

With a typical leash, you can let your dog walk and enjoy your surroundings.  You know he can’t go too far without you being jerked around.  With a retractable leash, however, you must constantly watch your dog to ensure he doesn’t get into trouble or get stuck somewhere he shouldn’t be.

  • Your Dog May Become Injured – Or Worse

Retractable leashes have caused serious injuries when the leash has become wrapped around a leg or the neck.  If you don’t notice the leash has become tangled on your dog, you may hit the retractable button and cause strangulation or other injuries.

  • You May Get Hurt

Even dog parents have been injured by the retractable leash.  The most common injury is strangulation of the finger or fingers, which may result in amputation.  Others may also get hurt if your dog starts running and knocks down those in his path.

Do you use the retractable leash for your dog or would you let your professional dog walker use a retractable leash when walking your dog?  Why or why not?


  • Jennifer says:

    Yes, I use it. It’s not that hard to watch my pup and still walk. There is a neighbor who does not watch her pup, and then it wraps around people’s legs causing burns when the leash pulls. I have never heard of amputations from these. I have a bad, bad back, and this leash lets her get ahead a few steps, yet I can keep her beside me if near people or a road.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    Retractable leashes have both pros and cons. It sounds like you use it well and know what to be aware of so you don’t run into issues. Your neighbor, on the other hand, exemplifies why we don’t like walking dogs with retractable leashes. They can be dangerous if they are not used properly.

  • I agree that , just like off-leash walking, dogs need to be trained to safely use a longer leash (especially a retractable one). I like to start my dogs on 4 to 6 foot leashes and will use this length when in the neighborhood, crowded spaces, vet clinics, etc. However, for my one dog that is not reliable off leash, the retractable leash is the closest she can get to off leash freedom on our wooded hikes. For our safety, while walking on a retractable leash, she has the following commands: Wait, slow, return/come, back (to untangle around trees), over (to jump over logs that she would normally run under thereby tangling the leash again), and leave-it. With those commands in place, I feel that we mitigate the hazards of the retractable leash, while still being able to enjoy the freedom it offers. But this is a good article to remind people of the hazards of retractable leashes and to think about when to use them.

  • Jennifer Shafton says:

    For safety reasons, when we walk dogs, we think it is best to use 4 to 6 foot leashes. That’s great you’ve trained your dog so well to follow specific training commands to keep her safe for the times you do use a retractrable leash in places where you would like to give her more freedom.

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