Some, in fact many, love the flexibility that extending leashes give them. Some see them as the lazy man's alternative to training your dog. Others still, see them as accidents just waiting to happen. Which one are you?
I hate the things. Whenever I see a dog that has no manners, I can almost always be assured that it will be walking on one of these stupid contraptions. I am pleased to see more and more training classes banning them from use in the class.
It is not enough to place a dog on a leash. It must be under control on a leash. Outstretched extending leashes do not provide control. On the contrary, they encourage bad behaviour in a dog.
Basic physics tells us that the walker cannot have as much control at the end of an extending leash, as the walker who has a standard leash. It would be a wish come true to see these things banned for once and for all, for public use. Here in England, they are becoming increasingly common and I almost dread seeing a dog walker with one, as I just know their dog will be poorly behaved, based on several past experiences.
I haven't answered the poll because my answer is that it depends on where you are and what you're doing. I have two, and use them occasionally for walking in the woods. My two dogs are young and have very strong hunting instincts, which means recall isn't reliable. On remote paths through the woods (I live out in the country) I'm not likely to encounter many other people and the long leashes let my dogs explore and sniff around while remaining "attached" to me. A regular long lead gets horribly caught up in the bushes and small trees, (especially with two dogs) so the rectractable feature is a nice thing to have.
Most retractable leads have a "stop" button that will set the length to whatever you've specified. At that point it acts as a regular leash and doesn't retract or extend. If I do happen upon anyone on the path, then I just shorten the lead, click the "stop" button and now I have much better control.
There are some cons which must be considered for the leash. First, when in retractable mode, the leash maintains a constant pressure on the dog's neck. Some dogs are too sensitive and will just lie down and refuse to move as soon as they feel that pressure, mistaking it for the owner pulling back. Other dogs will soon discover that if they pull against the pressure, then they are rewarded with a longer lead. Not something you want your dog to do when you're trying to get them to walk nicely at heel. Obviously it is impossible to do "loose leash" walking. You also must keep a sharp lookout at what's around you, because it takes a bit longer to "reel in" your dog. Not something to use on a busy city street. You also have no real "feeling" for the leash because of the plastic handle. Thus these leashes should NEVER be used for training purposes.
I've been given the standard lecture about how bad these leashes are by several trainers. But I confess that at times I'm really glad that I've got them. I use them only out here in the woods, otherwise I have 3 meter convertible leashes than I can set to be shorter. The convertible leashes are great because I can also attach my two dogs to one leash. It is my emergency safety measure in case one leash should ever break, or if I need to put a third dog on-leash.
By the way, at the moment my dogs have no manners no matter what sort of leash they are on. :dogtongue2:
I used to not see the point in extendable leashes at all, and everyone was saying how bad they are. But now I've found a use for them, within limited circumstances when other options less viable.
Where extendable leashes are NOT useful and in fact downright hazardous are in busy crowded places like city streets or busy pedestrian paths, unless you shorten and lock the leash so it's like a regular leash. (but I feel that a regular leash is more secure for these situations because the plastic handle can get pulled out of your hand more easily). otherwise, the dog can easily wander into the path of traffic or other pedestrians as the leash extends out, or get the cord wrapped around other people and things. This can be very dangerous. thus, I don't like to see dog owners walking their dogs on city or suburban sidewalks or on busy walking paths on these extendable leashes, because the dog can still bolt out into the path of traffic or other people.
But in areas where there is more space around you such as open fields, rural or semi-rural trails, parks (away from pedestrian paths) or other non-crowded areas, then it is safe to use an extendable leash and it allows the dog to have more freedom without being off leash.
Why wouldn't you want the dog off leash in those non-crowded areas, even if you have diligently trained a solid recall? In some places it's simply against the law. In other places, you may not have a clear view for potential hazards and thus not want to risk letting your dog off leash even if he has a good obedience skills. We train recall and other commands around distractions daily, but I don't want to be overconfident so whenever my dog is off leash I'm completely on my toes watching the environment constantly, and watching him constantly so I can know when to give him a recall or leave-it or stay command because he has a high prey drive and is very alert and fast. commands are only good if I can call him before he's gotten too deep into trouble! A couple of times I didn't see bicycles or other dogs approaching in time because of bushes or trees blocking my view or whatnot, and my dog had started running off towards them. His recall is pretty strong so in each time he came back immediately when I called him. But still, that momentary panic of seeing your dog take off towards other people, is not something I want to experience often even if I know that my dog will recall!! (My dog is a german shepherd so I know people will get freaked out seeing him running full speed towards them!) Therefore, if I have limited visibility around us, I choose to let him trail a long line, and if there's a lot of things on the ground get the line tangled, then my next choice is the extendable leash.
Then sometimes the ground conditions are yucky - like mud or other slush, and in winter a line trailing in the snow gets frozen solid and icy. So those are also times when the extendable leash works better than a trailing line for times I don't want to take risks being off leash.
Along the line of taking risks, if you are exercising a dog who has had little or no training or an unknown history - for example if you are fostering a dog from a shelter or taking care of someone else's dog - then one really shouldn't chance letting them off leash at all, yet they still need more exercise than just walking on a 6-foot leash. Again my first choice is a trailing line but if the ground conditions are yucky or would get the line tangled, then the extendable leash is useful.
That said, the only thing an extendable leash can do is to simply prevent the dog from getting more than 15 or 25 feet away from you. It doesn't allow you to "pull" him away from things easily should he be disregarding your commands. Thus I see it as only a safety net, not a control device.
Also, I highly recommend that the dog wear a body harness, and if possible attach a piece of bungee cord to it and then attach the extendable leash to the bungee cord. This is because if in a worst case scenario the dog suddenly bolts, he has 15 or 25 feet to build momentum before hitting the end of the leash, and this could result in serious injury if the leash is attached to his flat collar!! The bungee cord is to absorb some of the shock should the dog bolt and hit the end of the leash so it doesn't pull the plastic handle out of your hand or give a nasty jolt to you and the dog. I have found that this really does work. these are just backup precautions that I take and which I wish more dog owners who use these extendable leashes would also take. Hopefully with good training and sensible management the dog should not ever be runnning out to the full extent of the leash at full speed, but as we know the unexpected can happen so I believe in taking precautions.
Also, I find that the extendable leash doesn't affect my dog's loose leash walking. I think it could be because I seldom use the extendable leash (we are usually off leash, or trailing a drag line, or else walking on a regular short leash). Also I think dogs can and do differentiate different pieces of equipment and contexts - so if one is consistent and patient in training, the dog can learn when loose leash rules are in effect, and when it's OK to feel the tension from the extendable leash.
Your tip about using a bungee cord is neat. I never really thought about "cushioning" the end in case a dog bolts. Definitely something for me to look into since my dogs will run after rabbits or field mice. Thanks!
Jean: I use a heavier, stronger grade of leash for my two. Like you, I first bought one that was supposedly right for my dog's weight, but it broke fairly quickly. So I got one supposedly for larger dogs and haven't had any problems since.
I didn't invent the bungee cord idea, hehe! You can buy such an attachment ready-made, it's called a "snap-back" which I think is the original product
and then some other similar products came on the market:
but when I saw it I figured I could just make one myself for cheaper, so I did. you can get all the components at a hardware store. At first it feels a little weird, but then I think you and the dog will quickly appreciate it in the event that he reaches the end of the retractable leash (or if you suddenly lock the leash), even if he's just walking, and all the more if he's moving faster.
Note: on these product websites, they usually call it a training device even a correction device, but I don't see how it could be used for training or giving corrections. (And I don't like to give physical "corrections" either, for me leashes are just for safety not for giving corrections). I only use it as a shock absorber with the extendable leash and sometimes also with the trailing line for example if we are doing some obedience training around prey-distractions where there is a temptation for my dog to take off running (which can happen occasionally no matter how sound your training plan is) and I need to step on the line to stop him, then this would lessen the jolt for the dog. I don't want him to get a nasty sudden shock and possibly associate that unpleasantness with the training.
Also I saw another shock absorbing attachment in the petstore but couldn't find it online to show here, where the material is not a bungee cord but thick rubber hose. I do not think the rubber hose attachment is as safe, the problem with rubber is that all it takes is for a tiny crack to happen even one that you can't see, such as when exposed to sun's UV rays or heat, and the whole thing can suddenly and seemingly without warning break apart when force is applied.
And I think it's worth repeating, I think the dog should be wearing a harness if on an extendable leash or long line, again for added safety.
Good idea ||a! I've had my husky chase a rabit out of the blue once and had to step on the long line, which ended up hurting her. Nothing serious but still, if the dog has 20 feet to gain speed it's going to hurt, and it could cause major damage if the line is tangled up in her leg or something! :doghuh: