Saturday, 29 December 2007

are retractable leashes safe for dogs?

We were in the habit of taking Penny for a walk on a retractable leash. At first we used it only when we were going to the park and wanted to keep her nearby. But eventually we started using it in the street also.

However, when she suddenly took off down a steep hill (as I posted on 25 December), I began to realise that the extending lead didn't give me enough control.

At Dog Chat there is a discussion of the pros and cons of this type of lead. The general conclusion is that they have some use for dogs that behave well on lead, but they're not for everyday use.

The Dogster forum also has a range of responses from members about use of retractable leads and most replies are negative.

Jabari's mum told me she doesn't believe in extending leads. In one email she said:
I personally do not like extensible leads for large dogs as I feel that there is not sufficient control over the dog. I use either a long and strong nylon type lead or make my own extended lead. I use a fine leather lead with an extension made by attaching (water) ski rope to the end of it. Ski rope is great as it is waxed so it does not give rope burn should it slip through your fingers. It is water proof so you can allow it to drag along the ground behind you if you want and move it in and out as the dog moves. You can roll it up to hold the dog on short lead when needed. When it is old and dirty you can replace it. Though I have not replaced mine for about 6 years. It is also useful for making very long tracking lead.
She also told me that waterski rope would be okay to use when Penny is swimming in the river up in the mountains. Since Penny gave me a terrible scare by running up from the river and across the busy highway, I haven't trusted her to swim there. If I had a long lead on her I would feel safer till I regain my confidence. Jabari's mum pointed out that this type of ski rope is designed to float.

She showed me how she makes her leads. She holds the ski rope firmly and pushes a section together so the weaving comes apart.

She then pushes the free end of the rope into the loose weave.

And, finally, she pulls the rope tight. The woven-in end doesn't come out when she pulls.


Amber-Mae said...

Oh, definitely retractable leashes are not made to control the dogs. They are made for a little bit more freedom! My hooman M uses 12 feet long retractable leashes(she has two of these) on us becoz she wants us to have freedom & also becoz she says that we don't pull on it as much as we are on short leashes.

My mommy on the other hand, does not like the idea of using retractable leashes becoz like you mentioned here, there's no control on us. And infact, it's more dangerous to our hoomans than us! Seriously!

Many times we ran around our hoomans' legs, pulling the retractable leash behind their legs & as the thing rubbed against their skin so fast, that it burnt & cut through their skin. Both my hooman M & my mommy got hurt by us. Hehehehe... If you just hold the leash in your hand & if we run forward fast, it will burn your fingers too. Ouchy!

Retractable leashes also encourages dogs to pull. Yes, I've learned to strain on a leash again becoz of these retractable leashes. Mommy is not happee about it...

My hooman M also fell down a hill & onto the pavement when we THREE (my two sistas & I) lunged to go after a cat across the road. She has fell down about more than 5 times this year & you can still see all the scars on her legs, knees & hands. We are sooo sorry but we can't help it!

So retractable leashes are not safe but it does give freedom to the dog if you don't trust it to be off-leash.

Love licks,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

Amber-Mae, you have summarised the issues really well, here. The retractable leashes have a use but not for general walking. I'm going to try to use a normal, longer lead for walking in future. I've already started doing so, for the last three days, and it has gone well.

mary said...

I have been observing the dogs here and nearly all of them are on short leashes. I occasionally see long leads but I am fairly sure that that has only been in Central park. I have been impressed by the well-behaved dogs who just walk with their people and don't pull (of course, there have been some, not all dogs are perfect) and who don't take any notice of all the people. They also stop when told to and seem very well trained. It is also interesting to see the number of shops that you can take dogs into.

Slavenka said...

For my Obi I have retractable leashes and he enjoy in walking.
Niki have a normal leashes but she
is very small and she like to be
near my legs.
Wish you and Penny a Happy New Year.

parlance said...

So, Mary, just checking... When you get back to Australia from New York will you be bringing a few tips on how to get Aussie dogs walking nicely like those NY ones?

parlance said...

Slavenka, it sounds as if you, also, think that both retractable and short leashes are useful, but for different purposes.

Rusty said...

Hello, just wanted to weigh in on the retractabel lead thing. I use a retractable lead with Rusty whenever we are are in a park or other open area, like my dad's farm. He enjoys being able to range ahead and check things out. He waits when I ask him to and comes when called. He Is small, only 22 pounds so even if he did lose his mind I could easily real him in. When we walk around the neighborhood no the streets I use a regular lead. I think it boils down to responsible usage and knowing your dog.

I am going to read those articles you cited here. Thanks and Happy New Year.

parlance said...

Rusty, Happy new year to you also. After all this discussion I guess I've found out that retractables do have their uses, but, as you say, it's up to the humans to be sensible.
Though I did just have a scary thought...
I recalled one of my uncle's friends who was a sailor and got his foot chopped off by a rope whipping past very quickly. I don't imagine that anything that bad would happen when a dog took off on a retractable, but maybe a rope burn could be caused by a bigger dog. But, like your Rusty, Penny is a smallish dog and I guess we can continue to use the leads with confidence in the right situation.
(By the way, the sailor friend didn't give up sailing - he renamed his yacht "Footloose"!!