Are Retractable Leashes Dangerous?

Leashes are an essential tool in the upbringing and discipline of our pet dogs. There are two main kinds of leashes, a normal one that we have been seeing since forever now, and a retractable version, a similar concept but a little more mechanized and convenient.

But we’ve all heard the rumours, I certainly have. So in this article we’ll explore the question, are retractable leashes dangerous?

Yes and no, it’s all about being a responsible dog owner. They certainly can be dangerous if not used correctly – for you and your dog.

There’s a lot to it so we’ll first begin by seeing a brief comparison between a traditional and a retractable leash.

Your average leash is typically a rope made of nylon or leather, with a looped handle for grip, and a collar clip that goes onto your dog’s neck. Leashes can be found in various lengths, materials and sizes. You have so many options to choose from according to your style and desire.

A normal leash is ideal for most situations, but the smaller length is quite restricting if you wish for your dog to be a little freer.

On the other hand, a retractable leash is a leash with a spooled cord stored in a bulky handle. The length of a retractable leash is around 10 – 30 feet and they have a button to lock the length of the leash. They don’t help if you want to reel your dog back in, but they are kept taut as your dog gets to exploring.

Are Retractable Leashes Dangerous?

Benefits Of A Retractable Leash

These are oh so fun for owners and dogs alike who would love for their pets to roam a little freely and let them have the time of their life while taking their leisurely stroll through the park or on the beach.

In an open enough area, retractable leashes are so much more convenient than regular leashes. However, they do have an astonishing capacity for severe damage, to both the dog and the owner.

Benefits Of A Traditional Leash

The short length, while restricting, is great for exercising control you’re your dog in situations that may arise between your dog and other animals or people or even things…

Not really a chance of entanglement or amputations. (Read on).

Drawbacks Of A Retractable Leash

Allowing your dog to get too far, can get all kinds of fun, AND dangerous. For every party involved, so to speak. In an urban area, the chances of your pooch running into something up ahead and you not being able to see the hindrance beforehand is staggeringly high. This could lead to accidents or injuries by cars or people or objects in the way.

The leash is unable to be retracted quickly enough to avoid an accident.

The dog might pick up an interesting scent and chase after it, (the old dog and cat chase comes to mind!) could be a bike, a car, a person, another animal. They will then pull on the leash, which, unfortunately, can cause a whole host of injuries to both the walker and the dog.

It is entirely plausible for your dog to run into another dog or animals further ahead (such as a wild rabbit if you’re out walking in nature) as it might round a corner, which could lead to potential fights and serious injuries to everyone involved.

Some dogs are powerful enough to pull so strongly that the human holding the leash can be pulled off their feet and dragged across for several feet, causing injury, burns, bruises all over their body.

Retractable leashes can also break under the pull of a much powerful dog, causing dangerous situations for both the dog and the human at either ends.

Apart from all that, retractable leashes provide an amusing way for dogs to get around your rules. They will learn quite quickly that they can get further ahead by pulling on the leash, which could be the beginning of behavioural issues.

Oh, and lets not even think of the trauma it could cause your dog if you happen to drop the leash handle. It will zoom back to your dog, and he/she won’t know what to do about it. The handle is quite bulky, and your dog can be very scared and keep chasing after it because it is chasing after them. Only makes sense.

In a world where a mere meter of headphone wires get tangled insanely, can you imagine what could happen to a 5 – 10 meter leash with a leaving creature on either end of it? walking in crowded areas using a retractable leash is basically just asking for trouble. You simply don’t know what could be happening to your dog up ahead until it might be too late.

We all know papercuts sting, sometimes worse than a knife cut, imagine a nylon leash zipping forward at a much higher speed than a papercut. It should not come as a surprise that many dog owners who grab the cord by pure instinct, do indeed endure severe gashes, as well as finger amputations caused by retractable leashes.

Dogs try to keep pulling on the leash, quite forcefully, to get more freedom, of course. This could result in neck wounds, injury to the trachea and possibly the spine.

It could be very easy to end up in a runaway dog that overpowered their owner. Do I need to say how bad that could be for domesticated dogs in urban settings? Even rural settings could be hazardous for a pet dog out on his/her own.

Since retractable leashes are mechanical to a certain extent, they are liable to stop functioning properly with time. They could cause problems while extending, retracting, or unreeling themselves freely.

Should I Buy A Retractable Leash?

Should I Buy A Retractable Leash?

We are hoping that at this point, after having read all of the above, you have already made up your mind. Only you know the kind of place you live in. Only you know the kind of dog you own. And only you know the right decision that applies to your life and your dog.

If you are certain the area where you would be walking your dog is going to be empty most of the time, or whenever you would be going out for a walk, giving little chance for your pet to run about into trouble, quite literally, then a retractable leash could be the apt choice for your dog. They do give more freedom than your everyday leash can and keep up the high spirits of your doggo. And that is what we all want as dog parents.

Also be very sure you know your dog inside and out before making the switch. Some dogs are trained near to perfection, are uber smart and can manage to know the difference between a conventional leash and a retractable leash without landing themselves into trouble.


Your average leashes are far safer than any retractable leash ever could be.
At the end of the day, you and you alone are responsible for the decisions you make for your dog (and yourself).