Updated: Aug 21, 2021
I myself have seen the dangers when a friend was walking her dog and pushchair at the same time, the dog spotted a rabbit and began chase but ran around the pushchair, causing it to fall over and the lead go around the 2yr olds neck causing a large friction Burn and a trip to hospital.
Control: The average length of retractable dog leads is 26 – 30 feet. No one has control over their Dog with that much length between them. At that distance a dog can sniff out trouble, eat dangerous food, or be confronted by another unexpected animal.
Injury: Humans and Dogs are at risk for injury. A person who comes in contact with a moving cord can experience extreme burns and cuts. A cord wrapped around any extremity can cause severe bruising or even amputation. The same rule of thumb can be applied to dogs. If a leg gets caught or tangled in the cord it can cause serious injury. These leads are like a cheese wire when in contact with the skin.
Runaway Dog: A strong dog, if excited or aggressive, could unexpectedly pull the lead from your grip. A dog on the loose can mean unlimited dangers. If the owner does manage to hang on and falls down, being dragged behind, could experience scraping, bruises, broken bones or worse.
Malfunction: Most mechanisms wear out after over usage. The button or levers inside could stop working or start sticking. The cord can thin or wear and with a heavy tug or pull has the potential to snap.
Neck Injury: An owner is as guilty as the dog when tugging on the lead. If a owner sees their pup doing something they shouldn’t the first reaction is usually to jerk Their dog with the lead. Or your dog could suddenly lunge at another small animal or approaching dog. Either scenario can cause stress to the spinal cord, cause neck injury, and trachea issues. You can’t pull a dog back on this leads all you can do is press a button and hope they stop.
Bad Habits: You are unknowingly training your dog to pull on a lead and walk out front when walking. When they pull, the human reaction is to give more lead by releasing more rope. Referring to the old rule of Pavlov, if the dog is rewarded (with more lead when they pull), they will keep repeating this behavior. Unfortunately, in this situation it is a negative response.
Innocent Bystanders: How often do you see other people and dogs when out for a stroll with Your dog? When pups stop to say hello they tend to run in circles, sniffing and getting to know each other. Typically leads get intertwined with humans and dogs in the mix. If this happens with an aggressive dog, all involved parties are in trouble.
Pet Protection: You should be walking your dog with a slack, relaxed lead, when issues arise, such as an unfriendly dog, it’s best to keep calm and not tighten on the lead. However, if your pet is far off in the distance and a dog attempts to attack her/him, you have no control, you can’t pull your dog in quickly. You may not have control over the stopper, and it’s hard to grab the rope as it will burn your hand. It’s better to avoid putting your dog and yourself in this situation.
Sound: The sound of a bulky retractable lead handle on the cement is enough to make anyone jump. If the owner accidentally drops the handle, spooking the dog, they could bolt. Then the noise of the dragging lead behind the dog can really cause a runaway dog issue.
Standard Warnings: These are the common warning labels listed in bold on retractable lead covers:
Eye and Face Injury
Cutting, burning, and finger amputation
Never wrap lead around fingers or other body parts
Injuries to bystanders
This list is full of potential issues and “what if” scenarios, but you have to be prepared when in charge of another life. Hopefully, this is enough information and persuasion for any owner to make the switch. The next time you go use your retractable lead, think twice!