As a dog parent, one of the most enjoyable aspects of canine companionship, as well as a wonderful bonding tool, is taking your furry friend on an afternoon hike or going for a walk through the neighborhood. While doing so, it is important to keep you and your dog’s safety in mind.
Retractable Leash AKA Flexi Leash
There are all kinds of tools to choose from for walking your dog. A common tool, known as the retractable leash or the flexi leash, expands from the leash handle based on input from the dog. The idea behind the retractable leash is to give your dog an extra 20 to 30 feet of “freedom” on a walk, whether they’re in front, behind, or beside you. The problem, however, lies with how a dog achieves the longer leash length and what may happen while your dog is at a further distance from you.
Flexi Leash = Non-Polite Leash Walking
First and foremost, the retractable leash is the antithesis to polite leash walking. When a dog is walked with a retractable leash, the leash lengthens when there is resistance on the cord. This resistance must come from the dog. The dog learns to pull away from the handle & is reinforced to pull by the reward of moving to the desired location further from the walker.
The dog learns that there is no need to walk near their human companion and progresses forward regardless of the human’s position. This reinforcement makes it difficult to teach your dog how to walk politely on a leash. The concept behind polite leash walking is to teach your dog that it is extremely rewarding for them to walk beside you & to pay attention to you, despite their surroundings, & that they may only move forward when there is slack on the leash. To have a reliably polite leash walking dog, it is best to stick to a leash of either 4 feet or 6 feet in length.
Need To Know Dangers With Retractable Leashes
On a more pressing note, retractable leashes may put you and/or your companion in danger. When out in public with your dog, it is easier to control your dog & the situations you & your dog come across when your companion is closer to you. If, for instance, your dog has reached the end of the retractable leash (30 feet), your dog is walking ahead of you, and cars begin to flood the street alongside you, you, as much as you love your furry friend, may find it difficult to stop your dog from wandering into oncoming traffic when there are 25 feet between you and your companion. If your dog were beside you, you could simply step off to the side of the road. To avoid injuries & other similar situations, it is best to ensure your dog remains close enough that you may in contact with them in an emergency situation.
Retractable Leash Injuries
The leash itself can pose a safety threat. If your dog or another dog were to become tangled in the lengthy leash, it is possible the leash may injure their legs. Another threat to your companion is the durability of the retractable leash. If a large & powerful dog lunges forward at full speed, it is possible for the cord to snap in half, separating you from your dog. Retractable leashes can also cause injuries to a dog’s neck, including lacerated tracheas & injuries to the spine, because of the sudden jerk that occurs once a dog reaches the end of the retractable leash’s length.
How A Dog Often Responds When The Retractable Leash Is Dropped
One of the most saddening effects a retractable leash may have on a dog is that it may cause a dog to react fearfully. Often, dogs are frightened by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running in response, leading the dog to believe they are being chased by the very object they are frightened of. What started off as a peaceful walk through the park could end in a nightmare with phone calls, “Lost Dog” signs, and the mere hope that someone will spot your furry friend so that you may be reunited.
Keep Your Campion Happy, Safe, and Healthy
As dog caretakers, we all want what is best for our furry friends. You can offer your dog the chance to explore on outdoor excursions in many other ways, including the use of long leads, checking out unfamiliar territory, & renting fenced-in paddocks at parks. No matter the leash length, your dog will appreciate the time you spend together. Always choose tools that keep you and your companion happy, safe, and healthy!
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