Teaching a dog to walk on a loose leash or even heel using a retractable leash is virtually impossible. A retractable leash puts constant pressure on your dogs collar or harness, which is the exact opposite of what we need when looking for a relaxed leash walk. In fact, the constant pressure can help your dog learn to pull. The fact that these leashes adjust their length causes another problem when trying to get your dog to walk on a loose leash.
Not only can these leashes mess up your leash walking training, but also they are extremely dangerous to dogs AND their owners. Reports show that these leashes have caused injuries including cuts, burns, and even amputated fingers. They are known to be made of thin materials, which can break and let your dog run into car traffic, chase after that squirrel, or even that other dog they see in the distance. These leashes do not provide the owner with adequate control over their dog, as you can find yourself untangling the leash while your dog is 27 feet away fence fighting with a dog in its own yard.
A retractable leash makes it difficult for you to get your dog back to you in situations when you may need to do so swiftly. Imagine that you are walking your dog and you know that your dog does not like other dogs. Now imagine that some other person is walking their dog on a retractable leash. The owner is so far away that you have to yell at them to try to keep their dog away from yours to prevent a dogfight. Now, that owner may be able to “lock” their retractable leash, but their dog is pulling towards your scared dog, which prevents the retractable leash from actually retracting. It could get even worse if the dog on the retractable leash runs around you, tangling you in its extra length and cutting into your skin. This whole situation could have been prevented if both dogs were on a standard 4-6 foot leash.
These leashes are also difficult to keep ahold of, as the handles are often bulky. I have seen plenty of retractable leashes being accidentally dropped in my classes, and the poor dog tries to run away and escape the loud sound of the heavy handle being dragged around the ground, but it can’t get away! This has now traumatized the dog and made leash walking a more terrifying, negative experience for the poor pup.
If you are working with your dog on their leash walking skills, I recommend using a standard leash. Leashes come in all shapes and sizes, including padded handles, braided ropes, nylon, leather, double handled, almost anything you can imagine! These leashes are reliable, sturdy, comfortable and easy to use.
If you specifically want a longer leash for your dog to roam around on (in a safe environment such as a flat field, or a park without trees) there are a variety of longer leashes that can go 15 feet to up to 60 feet! Simply use the shorter, standard leash until you are in a location where your dog can wander! Please also, when using a longer leash, make sure there are no people around who can get tangled or trip over your dogs leash!
Leash walking should be a comfortable, happy event for everybody involved.