The Dangers of Retractable Leashes

Retractable Leash and Husky

Often times, the things we pay least mind to can cause the most damage. That’s the case with retractable dog leashes. Seemingly convenient for dog walks, allowing your dog to get up to 30 extra feet for freedom and roaming, the downsides outweigh the perceived freedom.

Retractable dog leashes can cause harm to both people and dogs. For dogs, the extended leash of a retractable leash can get wrapped up in the dog’s legs, causing difficulties walking, and in some scenarios, leg injuries.

Another issue comes up when trying to control your dog. If your dog starts rushing toward a busy street, your first reaction would be to lock the retractable leash and pull back. This can cause serious trauma to your dog’s neck, including their trachea (throat) and back. Long term use of a retractable leash could result in a collapsed trachea. PetMD has a great article that discusses the health risks of using retractable leashes.

There is a risk of physical harm for humans, too. If your dog starts to run off and you go to reach the cord of the leash, you may receive rope burn and cuts from the cord.

The reduced control you have with a retractable leash is dangerous. Your dog may go into the street, or may make uninvited contact with people and other dogs.


Another issue that can arise is when your dog is playing and/or roughhousing with other dogs. The extended cord of the retractable leash can get tangled up, making a possibly bad situation even worse.

The leashes themselves have several issues. The thin cords can snap, especially with larger dogs. The large handles make it harder to grip, especially if you have smaller hands, resulting in it slipping out of your hands easily. Both of these issues can result in a runaway dog. Lastly, due to the mechanical nature of retractable leashes, they will eventually wear out and stop functioning correctly—may it be not locking, not retracting, or not extending.



“BYOD values the importance of safety and taking preventative measures to create happy dog experiences! We believe retractable leashes are counterproductive to training a dog to walk properly and politely on a leash. A retractable leash gives a dog more freedom to pull in order to extend the lead. Also, a dog can get far enough away from you to either get in trouble or in harm’s way. Along with these issues, retractable leashes can also cause serious injuries to both humans and dogs–from superficial cuts, burns to even death. Therefore, we strongly encourage community members to ban retractable leashes and instead use a heavy duty, non-retractable leash.”Michelle Trejo BYOD CEO and Founder

With all these issues with retractable leashes, it would be simple common sense to completely stop using them—for both your and your dog’s sake. However, it’s not all bad! There is a better option to the retractable leash!

A regular, non-retractable leash will be much better for you and your dog! It’ll prevent your dog from running off too far, encourage better behavior, and lower the risk of injury for you as well. There are accessories available as well, such as walking vests–something commonly used for smaller dogs–which wrap around your dog’s body and hook to the back, preventing any neck trauma.

Ditching your retractable leash will make for a happier dog, which makes for a happier owner!

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