Ahhhhhhhhhh, haha, retractable leashes... a hot topic that came up this afternoon in a happy meeting with Cody's Creations (who is not a proponent, either) that inspired me to write down some brief thoughts...
As most people who know me know, I HATE flexi-leashes. This might be the one dog training tool that I absolutely cannot find ANY value in; (even silly ones usually at least have some kind of foundation in a reasonably good idea... for the most part); NOT this one (if you ask me...).
Everything you can do with a retractable leash can be done on a long, fixed line (albeit maybe not as conveniently). The benefits of convenience, in my opinion, are far outweighed by the potential negative consequences of using of one these bad larry's. Exhibit A... (Fear tactic? Possibly.)
The injury in the photo to the right is a pretty typical example of what retractable leashes (cords, maybe more accurate?) can and do cause on a regular basis. (I will accede to the fact that the argument could be made that the leash didn't cause the injury; the poor - or complete lack of - training of the dog at the end of it did). However, when was the last time you saw a well-trained dog walking down the street attached to one of these? I'm going to venture a guess here & say never. Been wrong before, but...
The reasons I can't stand these things are as follows:
1) Simple mechanical malfunctions. I worked at a major corporate-owned PETsTORE for 6 years and I can tell you from experience that these things malfunction. Often, the mechanism inside breaks (never EVER at a convenient time... speaking of convenience) resulting in the line being continuously let out when you don't want it to be OR jammed. When and if the line jams and the contraption is ripped out of your hand, guess what happens? Your dog was already taking off after something (or it wouldn't have been yanked out of your hand) and now he has a plastic monster chasing after him. It is scary to dogs when this happens, and many a canine has ended up on a "Missing" poster over it.
2) Manners. I can't tell you how many times on how many different occasions (at how many different events, to the disillusion of how many people) I have seen someone's dog 16 feet away from it's owner wrapped around a display in a store, peeing on a table at an event, tying up another dog, "THIS CLOSE" to becoming dinner for another dog, in a completely different aisle or on a completely different STREET than the person holding the other end of the leash, jumping up, scratching, lifting their legs, wrapping up an exhibit, pulling down shelving... You see where I'm going with this. "Manners" is also a nice way of saying this is yet another reason I can't stand these things. Safety may be more accurate, which brings me to:
Reason #3) They are dangerous. Notice the pictures that I have included thus far depict injuries to HUMANS. Nevermind the injuries to unfortunate dogs, including the BYSTANDERS. I will again accede to the fact that it is probably POSSIBLE to use these things appropriately(?), responsibly, but I am gritting my teach while even typing out that sentence because I have such a bad taste in my mouth for these due to what I have consistently seen over the years. I cannot recall ever once seeing somebody use one of these things responsibly... and I have seen a LOT of dog/human interactions (ya think? ;).
Retractable (extendable... flexi... choose your word) leashes frequently cause injuries up to & including those in Exhibit B, adapted from Flexi's own website. (See picture on left.)
I can already hear somebody arguing with me in favor of "Flexi" leashes by saying something like, "Well, I could say pit bulls frequently cause injuries up to and including the propaganda photos to my right" which is bullsh*t for many reasons and I will debunk that potential argument in another article.
4) ... and one of the more important reasons in my profession: retractable leashes send mixed (poor) communication signals to the dog. There is ALWAYS tension on a retractable leash... ALWAYS. The dog is aware of this, and this can have a SLEW of negative consequences, too innumerable to include all of them in this article, but teaching Cooper to walk with tension on the leash (read: pull) being the least of it.
And Reason #5: The total lack of control any given owner has on one of these things leads to injuries to other dogs with unusual frequency. I took the liberty of sharing the following blurb, adapted from http://www.henkimaa.com/2011/02/15/dog-whisperer-needed/ because it is so typical. Read on:
"This is the second time my friend Marcia’s dog Kimmee has been attacked by her neighbor’s dogs.
All three dogs were on leashes, but both of the attacking dogs were (1) larger than Kimmee; (2) on extendable leashes that were fully extended, leaving their owner with little control over them; (3) too large and strong for their owner to control both of them at the same time to begin with, [reliably on extendable leashes].
And this is the second time. The other dogs’ owner should know better. Marcia had taken Kimmee outside for a poo, and suddenly around the corner came here came the neighbor dogs at the ends of their leashes, their owner obviously not paying a great deal of attention to what her dogs might encounter out of her sight, running ahead of her as they were. Even though she knew her dogs had attacked Kimmie just a few months’ previous, to the tune of over $300 in veterinary care. This time was worse (& the vet’s bill reflects it)."
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