Thought I would cross post this letter from Norma Jeanne Laurette to our IPDTA forum members. Like any dog training tool, some can be used properly and some can cause harm. Retractable leashes have their place but they also have problems. Here is her opinion ,and it seems to be vastly shared by most of our dog professionals.
Over the years I had numerous problems reported by my clients with retractable leashes and have experienced problems myself both in and outside of my classes. Because of this I began to document these problems. See below.
Norma Jeanne Laurette
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Drawbacks, Risks and Warnings
• There have been reports of even the strongest retractable leashes breaking, most on very powerful dogs, others on dogs not as powerful but due to poor leash construction. Breakage has been known to occur;
where the line attaches to the clasp
where the line attaches inside the plastic casing
the line itself
the actual plastic casing
the locking and retractable mechanisms.
Reported accidents associated with the retractable leash;
• line breakage where the line attaches to the clasp, causing the clasp to snap back and detach the retina of a young girl’s eye. Other such injuries have been reported.
• accidentally dropping the plastic casing handle causing the handle to retract back to the dog, striking the dog in the head or other parts of the body causing fear and/or injury and/or superstitious cues.
• the line of the retractable leash become wrapped around a small dog’s leg and when pulled snapped the bone of the leg in two
• the dog running and as hitting the end of the leash with force causing; - neck injury
- causing the cord to break at the clasp and all the accidents associated with the breakage
- causing the handler to drop the plastic casing handle and all the accidents with the breakage
• Breakage of any kind can cause the dog to be loose in a public area causing injury due to being hit by a vehicle, causing vehicles to crash to avoid the loose animal, and other dangers associated to dogs being loose in public areas.
• The retractable leash is counter-productive when proofing the recall because of the constant pull of the leash. The dog learns that it must come when call when the leash is attached but as soon as the leash is removed, the pull is gone and the dog knows it is free to do as it pleases. A “life line”, “lunge line” or long leash is preferable for this exercise because the dog will not feel the tug on it’s collar.
• Since retractable leashes are for sale at many dollar stores, they are of extremely poor quality and have a high potential to break.
• You cannot train a dog on a retractable as it allows the dog all the freedom, allows the handler only one free hand, making it impossible to use the techniques needed to teach the dog to not pull on leash.
• Retractable leashes are extremely dangerous when used with choke chains, pinch collars or head halters as the handler has very little control over the strength of the pull and the pressure on the dog’s neck or head.
• Since there is a constant tug on the dogs collar, it actually teaches dogs to pull on leash as the constant pull is always there when walking.
• When used by bicyclists it can be extremely dangerous to both dog and cyclist because;
• - only one hand is free with which to control the bike
• - the dog can easily pull the bicycle off balance
• - the dog can easily pull the bicycle into traffic
• The retractable leash has a high potential for becoming wrapped around the dog, passing dogs or people, bikes or objects causing accidents, injuries and abrasions.
I allowed retractable leashes in my classes during my first two years in business. During that time I cannot count the number of times dogs escaped both inside and outside my facility while on a retractable leash. There were numerous incidents involving the handler accidentally dropping the plastic casing that retracts and hits the dog. I have witnessed the clasp breaking loose on a few occasions causing it to snap back at the handler. Due to these experiences, I no longer allow the use of retractable leashes in my classes.