When you’re trying to decide on a leash for your dog, there are many options. Do you want a traditional flat leash? A retractable leash? What leash works best for you depends heavily on your dog, where you tend to walk, and what stage of training your dog is on. As this article focuses on retractable leashes, let’s focus on who those leashes work best for first.
Who are Retractable Leashes Best For?
Retractable leashes are great for making walks more interesting for well-behaved dogs. They let your dog roam so they can investigate interesting smells, or explore the area more. However, this feature makes retractable leashes unsuited for some dogs. If your dog tends to lunge at squirrels or other dogs, you’ll have less control over them. If your dog might fight other dogs, they could even get hurt. Retractable leashes also aren’t safe to use while hiking, or in areas with lots of cyclists or runners since they might not see the line until it’s too late.
Retractable leashes also aren’t a good option for puppies. Not only can they generally not handle chewing, but puppies aren’t trained enough to be able to walk safely on one. Puppies will try to run into the street or after animals and this can be a very dangerous situation. Always train puppies to walk on a traditional leash and consider a retractable leash only for specific training like recall training in public or after they have learned to walk nicely.
Pros and Cons of Retractable Leashes
As a quick overview, let’s go over the pros and cons so you can decide whether retractable leashes are for you and your dog.
- Allows your dog more freedom during walks
- Allows your dog to roam while still on the leash, making it great for dog parks when you’re still not sure about letting your dog off the leash.
- Great as an advanced tool for trained dogs.
- Good for training on skills like stay and recalling while in public.
- Can cause injury when the longer lead wraps around the owner.
- Not as much control as a flat leash.
- The stop button might not pull your dog back fast enough to keep them out of danger.
- The dog can get hurt when they try to run and get stopped suddenly.
Are Retractable Leashes Dangerous?
Like many things, in the wrong hands, retractable leashes can be dangerous. They’re an advanced tool, and you need to learn how to use them properly. If you don’t know how to use the controls effectively, your dog could run off and get hurt. The most common injuries to dogs from retractable leashes come from when the dog runs off and gets up to full speed before the owner can hit the stop. The sudden stop from full speed can cause injuries to the spine and trachea. Another common injury is from fights started when the owner is far away.
The Giant Tape Leash is a great option for large dogs. Designed for dogs that weigh up to 110 pounds, it comes in three sizes. The leash itself is neon yellow, for increased visibility. It has a comfortable handle and a quick stop button as well as the ability to restrict the amount of leash that is out at any time. The hook is chromed for better weather resistance.
Things to Watch For
Some owners have received used leashes when they bought new. One owner even received a moldy leash! Be sure to check thoroughly when you first get your leash so you don’t miss the return window. Owners have also reported the leash itself breaking in the exact same place after six months of use.
- Flat tape style leash is stronger and less likely to get caught on things.
- The leash automatically retracts so it’s less likely to get wrapped around the dog’s legs.
- Easy to use stop button can be used with one finger, improving safety.
- Neon leash makes night and evening walks safer.
- Sturdy construction lasts for years
- Open reel for the tape lets you fix tangles easily.
- Has arrived broken or used
- Large handle might be hard to hold for smaller hands.
- Paint has been reported as smearing and getting everywhere if exposed to sunscreen.
- Smaller dogs might have trouble pulling the leash out.
The Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash by Hertzko is another great leash option. It has a 16ft long nylon leash, giving your dog plenty of room to roam. It has a non-slip grip and a thumb operated lock button. It retracts quickly, so you can get your dog back to your side when you need them.
Things to Watch For
The hook to attach the leash to your dog is very small. As it has an enclosed housing, if the leash gets wet and retracts, it can mildew and start stinking. The grip might be a bit too small for people with large hands. It also won’t work as well with gloves. The lock is also not particularly easy to use. The retraction mechanism can also wear out quickly. The leash also can’t take even mild chewing. It tends to get runs and rip further. The rubber on the grip can also peel off quickly. This is a common issue, but still an annoyance. It can be repaired with grip tape meant for tennis rackets.
- Flat style is less prone to tangling.
- Comfort grip.
- Quick reaction.
- Encased style can result in a wet leash getting mildew.
- Grip isn’t the largest so it won’t work for big hands or winter gloves.
- Lock can be difficult or fragile.
The URPOWER Upgraded Retractable Dog Leash is another great option. It features a 16ft nylon lead with an anti-tangle opening that works no matter where your dog is pulling the leash. It has a comfortable grip and a lock button that works with just your thumb. It has an anti-rust hook as well. It comes in 2 sizes, one for dogs up to 55 pounds, and a larger size for dogs up to 110 pounds.
Things to Watch For
One owner purchased the larger leash for a 55 pound dog and had the leash be destroyed when they tried locking it right after their dog started running. Several other owners reported a similar issue with the leash popping out when the dog reaches the end of the lead at a run. This means it wouldn’t be good for a large or strong dog. There have been reports of the leash getting locked at the full length and not retracting. This can be dangerous, if you need to retract the leash. The leash also can rip quickly.
- Flat nylon leash with an anti-tangling feature.
- Large comfort grip
- Easy to use button that only requires one hand.
- 2 sizes to match your dog.
- Hook is small.
- Leash can pop out of the case easily.
- Lock brakes easily.
The Dual Doggie Pet Leash by WIGZI is a good option if you have two dogs that always walk together. It had two separate lines that are color coded along with the buttons so you can keep control of your dogs easily. Unlike the previous options, the leash is flat up to a point, but it uses a cord. These can be weaker than the flat style, so keep an eye out. Each line is 10 feet and can hold dogs up to 50 pounds. The leash is supposed to be able to spin to help prevent tangling.
Things to Watch For
The lock buttons can be stiff. This can make it harder to use, particularly if you have the leash in your off hand. The lock also can fail on one side, making it useless. The main issue seems to be quality. It’s made with cheap parts that result in it wearing out faster. Most owners are reporting that it doesn’t last a year. This style of cord can easily cause cuts on bare skin, so be careful. One owner certainly reported this.
- Two leads let you walk two dogs at once.
- Color coded so you know which dog you’re stopping.
- Spinning feature helps prevent tangling.
- Large grip for comfortable walks.
- Cheap construction results in it being quickly.
- Cord can be a safety hazard, particularly if your dogs run behind you.
- Locks are stiff and difficult to use.
The TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash is another great option. The leash is 16 feet and made of nylon in the same flat style as most of the other options on this list. It can handle dogs up to 110 pounds. The lock allows easy, one finger operation. It has a rubber grip for comfort. It also includes free waste bags and a bone-shaped carrying case for them.
Things to Watch For
The leash can break quickly, mainly the locking mechanisms. It’s also heavy for the size. The retraction is rather slow, which can lead to tangling. One owner also reported that the lock wasn’t strong enough and their dog was able to pull more leash out when with them actively pushing the button down. The dog this happened with was only 75 pounds. For larger, stronger dogs this would be even more of an issue. It is also noted as having a small handle, so it isn’t good for large hands or winter walks with gloves on.
- Flat, 16ft leash gives your dog plenty of room to run without tangling.
- Easy to use button.
- Free waste bags and carrying case.
- Heavy for the size, but the handle is still small.
- Locking mechanism is weak and allows dog to pull out more lead.
- Slow retraction.