Why not retractable?

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It is fairly common to see people walking their dogs on retractable or flexi-leashes. As an idea they seem great; your dog gets a lot of freedom, it can be hands free and they are fairly inexpensive.

So why would you never see one of our staff walking our dogs with one?

Well Flexi-leashes may sound awesome, they have a lot of disadvantages as well. Firstly, let’s consider local by-laws:

  • Windsor by-law 245-2004 states that the dog must be under control of their guardian at all times and Section 26 states that dogs given the classification of restricted must be on a leash no longer than 6 ft or 1.8m.

  • Windsor by-law 200-2002 section 8.2 the domestic animal must be on a leash no longer than 6ft (1.8m) within any park, even it is declared a leash-free zone the owner should always have a leash on hand. Secondly, Ensure that the dog under voice control and within visual site at all times!

Therefore, from these by-laws you can see that technically unless you lock the leash at 6ft, it is not permitted within most public areas.

Secondly, using them on walks is problematic- the line is often tight, thin and breakable, allows pulling, the lock can give out and allows too much freedom for proper handling. A tight line especially attached to a dog’s neck can make them feel restricted and when meeting new animals vulnerable; increasing the chance of reactivity; barking and snapping. The line is thin which can cause injury to the dog or others if it becomes tangled or if it snaps/breaks. Some retractable leashes are cheaply made and the lock can be released by a good pull- extending the line. As mentioned before, the line is long and allows a lot of freedom, on a walk- meaning that the dog could become tangled, can be in the way of bikes and cars and otherwise get into bad situations (eg. greeting an aggressive dog). If you decide to “reel” the dog in you could cause damage by whiplash or by grabbing the thin line in a panic.

The leash actually prompts pulling on a tight leash to get further; counterproductive to proper leash walking. Additionally, the style of the leash is not conducive to conditioning loose leash walking. A leash should be held with 2 hands, one to secure it to you and another to control length, predict pulling and keep your focus on the dog and environment. The one hand approach of the flexi-leash allows you to be distracted. And for all these reasons these leashes are not good at controlling strong pullers or large, excitable dogs.

These leashes probably should only be used in your own backyard. They should not be used for parks, walks or greeting others. If you use these leashes because you have a hard time controlling your dog or like your dog having more freedom (use a longer normal leash), consider our loose leash walking class or an obedience class to practice your commands in a distracting environment.

~ Jayden Mayville and Kelsey Jewell