How to Use a Retractable Dog Leash Responsibly?

How to Use a Retractable Dog Leash Responsibly?

Are you looking for a dog leash that will make it easier to walk your curious canine friends? The retractable dog leash is a popular choice for many, but before you run out and buy one, make sure you know how to properly and responsibly use the product, for your doggies and yourselves.

However, there are a few common misunderstandings or prejudices about the retractable leash that we should get rid of, to make the most of this everyday dog-walking gadget.

 Three Misconceptions about the Retractable Dog Leash 

1. Does a retractable leash give a dog more freedom?

Many pet owners believe that a retractable leash gives their dog more freedom than a traditional leash, but there are three problems with this perception.

Firstly, if by freedom you mean unrestricted freedom of movement, then a retractable leash doesn't change anything.

Secondly, rather than the “freedom” the retractable leash gives the dog, more freedom is actually given to the owner, as the dog has a relatively wider range of movement than before, so the owner can stay put and mind his or her own business.

Thirdly, for the dog, it is the "environmental control" that really allows him to be free, instead of the use of a tool. A dedicated dog park, private green space or indoor arena, with no speeding cars and no unidentified litter or food on the ground, is where dogs have genuine freedom. Dogs are familiar and friendly with each other as well to minimize the risks of fierce fights.

2. Can the brake system on retractable leashes quickly stop a dog from sudden acceleration or sprint?

Retractable leashes have a special braking device, which offers two braking modes, temporary and fixed. In practice, these are very useful features and some owners are therefore not worried about their dog running unstoppably out into a dangerous area, as they can simply press the brake button in time.

But what about the reality? When the dog is walking quietly, owners can control the length of the leash at any time to ensure that the dog does not run out of the safety zone. However, once the dog starts to speed up when it sees something interesting, by the time the owner realizes its acceleration, it may be too late. It's like brakes are only most effective when the car is in good condition. Once the car is out of control the brakes will also be useless.

3. Will a retractable leash help the dog to change the bad habit of lunging?

For some hyperactive dogs, lunging, either towards food or people, mostly in good or friendly causes, is inherent in their genes. The only thing in their minds when they go out is "go, go, go". Increasing the length of the leash will not mitigate this problem, and if you are still skeptical, just look at those owners with retractable leashes being “walked” and even dragged by their canine companions on the streets.

The right way to change a dog's bad habit of lunging is not to resort solely to a retractable leash, but to conduct systematic training.

The Correct and Responsible Way to Use a Retractable Dog Leash 

1. Before using a retractable leash, you should ideally be able to train your dog in a number of ways, these include:

a. Impulse control.

Prevent lunging and train the dog to be able to stay around the owner before the owner gives relevant commands. If your dog is a visual hound or a sporting dog with an extreme desire to chase objects, this will be a vital training.

b. “Desensitize” the dog to the retractable leash.

The main purpose of this training is to prevent the dog from being frightened by the sudden fall of the retractable leash falling to the ground by accident, not to mention the fear of the retractable leash following him all the time outdoors. If the dog is not well trained on this aspect, it is very dangerous for the dog to instinctively run faster when it finds itself followed by this inexplicable object wherever it runs.

2. Focus on environmental control and always keep a close eye on your dog even though it can move freely.

A retractable leash is a great tool when environmental control is very much in place and there are no potential threats around. So, if you are in a park or an area with few pedestrians, you can let your dog enjoy the "freedom of movement" that comes with a retractable leash. Otherwise, be aware of the environmental conditions that might suddenly frighten or excite your dog.

3. Do not allow children to walk your dog on a retractable leash, especially if the dog itself is not trained in impulse control.

A child's lack of strength can put both lives at risk on both ends of the retractable leash.

4. Retractable leashes are best used with a chest harness, but not with a P-chain or any collar that puts controlled force on the dog's head and neck.

If retractable leashes are used with P-chains or collars, dogs may be abruptly stopped at the end of the leash when running at full speed causing injuries in necks, heads and motor joints. In daily use, learn to recall your dog before it tugs the leash to the end, and reward it with treats once it returns. Train your dog not to run at full speed to the end of the leash with patience and constant practices.

5. Always check the condition of the retractable leash, especially the leash tape itself.

If you find that the tape is broken, the outlet is cracked or burred, or the carabiner mechanism is ineffective, this is a warning that the product has already malfunctioned and needs to be replaced.

At the end of the day, retractable leashes aren’t as black and white as many dog owners and trainers make them seem. In the right hands, retractable leashes can be a wonderful tool to enjoy more freedom with our dogs. While in the wrong hands, they can be disastrous. We hope retractable dog leashes can become a helpful dog-walking gadget for you, in a responsible way!


iSafeCare aims to design pet essentials that benefit both doggies and hoomans. As a practitioner and innovator in retractable dog leashes, we strive to offer you as many affordable choices as possible.

Leave a comment