As I walked through a local public park today, I was reminded how much I really don’t like retractable leashes! Winter and I were approached by a friendly person and their dog which was on a retractable leash. The dog was quite young and very exuberant and as she approached I asked her to retract her leash, unfortunately she was not very quick to respond and her dog chose that moment to shoot out to the end of the leash past me and circle around me to get at Winter. Luckily, I’m pretty quick on my feet and was able to hop the line before I got close-lined but had to continue to dance around until she managed to reel her dog in.
So why do I really not like these leashes? Have you ever read the warnings they publish with the leashes, here’s the warning PAMPHLET (yes it’s large enough to warrant an entire pamphlet) from Flexi, the largest maker of the flexible leashes. By the way, I just copied and pasted this from their web site and I had to reduce the font size so it didn’t take up the whole blog! I only wish I was able to copy the graphics too, they are worth looking at!
Here are the Special Safety Instructions for the corded variety of Flexi, there are also similar warnings for the tape and Vario versions. The text version below the screen shot is the standard warning stuff.
Safety Precautions & Directions
Because this leash is retractable, it requires special precautions to reduce the risk of injury. Read this pamphlet before using your leash and save it for future reference.
Who can use this leash?
This leash should only be used by responsible people who have read and can follow all of these precautions. Anyone who uses this leash must be able to control the dog and watch the dog closely at all times to keep it from running off or wrapping anyone in the cord/tape/belt. Keep out of reach of small children. Never let anyone play with this leash.
Is this leash right for your dog?
• Do not use this leash with a disobedient or uncontrollable dog, since they are more likely to wrap the cord/tape/belt around people or to run off at high speeds.
• Only use this leash with a dog that does not exceed the weight limit listed on the leash.
• Leashes for larger dogs have a tape or belt instead of a cord to reduce the risk of amputations and cuts.
• Even small dogs can pull hard enough to injure you, particularly because the length of the leash allows dogs to run and build up speed. Follow all of these precautions even with a small dog.
Use this leash only as intended
• Follow the “Directions” section in this pamphlet.
• Never attach more than one dog to the leash. Never use more than one flexi™ leash at a time.
• Never attach any accessories to the leash housing unless they are sold or approved by flexi™.
CUTS AND BURNS
If the cord runs across your skin, it can cause abrasions (like a rope burn) or severe cuts. Cuts and burns are more likely if the cord/tape/belt wraps around any part of the body. Avoid contact with the cord/tape/belt and never let it wrap around any part of your body.
• Avoid contact with the cord/tape/belt and never let it wrap around any part of your body.
• Do not allow slack to build up in the cord/tape/belt– you might get tangled in the slack.
• Do not touch the cord/tape/belt if the cord/tape/belt wraps around you. Turn around or pass the handle from one hand to the other to unwrap yourself. (See “Finger Amputation and Fractures”)
• If you want to further reduce the risk of cuts and burns, you can wear long sleeves and pants to protect your arms and legs.
FINGER AMPUTATION AND FRACTURES
If the cord/tape/belt wraps around fingers or catches on a ring, a hard pull on the leash can amputate fingers or break bones.
• Avoid touching the cord/tape/belt when the leash is attached to your dog and never let the cord/tape/belt wrap around hands or fingers.
• Do not hold the cord/tape/belt.
• Do not grab the cord/tape/belt to control your dog.
• If the cord/tape/belt gets entangled in a bush or other object, gain control of your dog before disentangling it. Do not touch the cord/tape/belt if your dog can pull on it. If you want to further reduce the risk of finger amputation and fractures, you can take off any rings and wear sturdy gloves.
EYE AND FACE INJURIES
If the leash or your dog’s collar breaks, or if the leash disconnects from your dog’s collar, the cord/tape/belt and hook can snap back with enough force to cause serious eye damage, broken teeth, cuts, and bruises. If the cord/tape/belt is under enough tension, this can happen even when the leash is locked.
• Follow instructions for inspecting, attaching and detaching the leash in the “Directions” portion of this pamphlet.
• Tighten the safety collar around your dog’s neck and attach the hook to your dog’s regular collar. The safety collar prevents snap-back if the dog’s collar or the hook breaks, or if the leash disconnects from your dog’s collar.
Because the flexi™ leash is longer than regular leashes, your dog can build up more speed and pull on it harder, possibly pulling you to the ground.
• If your dog starts running away from you, immediately press the brake button to keep your dog from building up too much speed. If your dog has already built up speed, you will be pulled when you hit the brake or if the dog reaches the end of the leash.
• Do not allow slack to build up in the cord/tape/belt – your dog may run and build up speed until the slack runs out, suddenly pulling you.
• Have secure footing. Do not use the leash while on wheels (for example, a bike, skateboard or roller blades).
INJURIES TO BYSTANDERS
Bystanders are at risk of all of the injuries described in this pamphlet. In particular, they can be cut by the cord/tape/belt if they contact it or if it wraps around them. They might also trip on the leash.
• Be aware of bystanders. They might not notice the cord/tape/belt. Control your dog and keep the cord/tape/belt away from them.
• When around other people or animals, shorten the leash and keep your dog at your side with the leash locked.
• Avoid using the flexi™ leash near small children, including children in strollers.
• If the cord/tape/belt gets wrapped around someone, tell them not to touch the cord/tape/belt. Gain control of your dog and do not touch the cord/tape/belt if your dog can pull on it.
OK, so that’s the safety issues that flexible leashes come with, now let’s talk about the TRAINING issues. Because of the way they work, these leashes actually teach your dog to pull. Think about it, the dog pulls against the leash and gets to move forward, the whole time he is feeling the pull against his collar, if it’s a small pup the pull is especially relevant. So by the time the puppy grows up, he’s so used to pulling hard to get the flexi to extend, he will have a well-developed habit and good luck taking the dog for a walk on a 6 foot leash!
So what do you do with your puppy or young dog that you want to keep safe, but you also want to let them romp about? Get yourself a 10 foot long line. They make them in all different widths, smaller sizes are appropriate for smaller puppies or small dogs, use the wider widths for the adolescents and bigger dogs. Yes, you still have to keep an eye on them as the dogs drag the thing around so it doesn’t get caught up around your ankles or the ankles of unsuspecting passers-by. For that I recommend going to areas that are not frequented by the non-dog walking public. Also as you are walking with your dog on a 10 foot leash (as opposed to a 6ft leash) they have much more freedom and more opportunity to walk beside you willingly – THAT’S WHEN YOU REWARD THEM!