How to Use a Retractable Lead Safely

How to Use a Retractable Lead Safely

Dogs can get themselves in a spot of bother when it comes to getting tangled in a retractable lead - so how far should you go for convenience? Read our tips for using this great piece of kit in a responsible way!

If you ever want to stir up an argument among dog owners, mention retractable leads. They are a polarising topic with advocates appreciating the freedom they offer and those opposed focused on the many, many things that can – and often do – go wrong. But there is a middle ground where responsible owners can safely use retractable leads with some dogs in some circumstances by following a few guidelines. 

The three key things to consider are using the right retractable lead in the right place with the right dog – one who has had the right training. 

When these things are not in place, using a retractable lead can be dangerous for your dog and others. The arguments against retractables are powerful. Dogs can be injured by getting tangled in loose lead, charging into the road, reaching the end of the lead with too much force or getting into a fight. 

Is a Retractable Lead Right for Your Dog? 

In other words, is your dog right for a retractable lead. Before using one, it is important to teach your dog recall and loose lead walking on a regular lead. Some dogs are simply too large and powerful to use a retractable lead safely because there is always the risk of any dog panicking or succumbing to the instinct to chase something.  

Picking a Retractable Lead 

Quality matters. Make sure the lead you pick is designed for your dog’s size. If the lead says it is for dogs up to 15 kg, do not use it with your 16 kg dog. Go for the next size up, even if that weight limit is well above your dog’s size.  

Make sure the lead’s handle is comfortable in your hand. One of the biggest problem with these is if you drop the handle, it will retract – in effect, chasing your dog. Some dogs become frightened and bolt if this happens.  

Where You Should and Shouldn’t Use a Retractable Lead 

If you are walking in a large park, beach or woodsy trail, and no other dogs are around, a retractable lead can give your dog freedom to sniff and explore while staying safely under your control. Should someone else appear, you can simply call your dog to you and lock the lead to keep them at your side.  

Another ideal use is in your own garden. If your dog has some bad habits such as digging or trapsing through the flower beds, or if your garden is unfenced, taking your dog out on a retractable lead is a good option. You can let them explore while also keeping them out of trouble.  

Avoid using a retractable lead anywhere crowded or in town or housing estates. It’s too easy for your dog to become tangled around poles or other obstacles.  

The most important thing to remember when using a retractable lead is to actively use it. Don’t just let your dog run around as far from you as possible. Stay alert to hazards and be quick to recall your dog and lock the lead as needed. Remember, don’t let your dog go so far that the lead is fully extended. The risk of even a high-quality retractable lead breaking if the dog lunges is too high. A retractable lead can cause a lot of headaches if it isn’t used correctly, but when used right, it allows your dog to enjoy walks even more. 

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