OK, so yesterday I got most of my issues with retractable leashes off my chest. Then this morning while Louie G, Walter and I were our for our walk, I was reminded of another of my pet peeves with retractable leashes, using the incorrect collar.
So there is this large, strong and unneutered (pet peeve for another time) Labrador out walking his owner. We know this dog, we have run into him before on our morning walks, if he and Walter get a sniff of each other they both go crazy (pet peeve for another time). His behavior is not confined to over reacting to Walter but unpredictably to other dogs he is walked by. Now this owner with, of course, all the best of intentions walks him with a pinch collar and a retractable leash.
Now let’s review what could go wrong with the retractable leash; 1) dog could get wrapped around owner and knock her down, 2) dog could start running away and pull owner down 3) dog pulls and or knocks owner down, gets away, attacks another animal, in this case, Walter. (We know from other events with Walters how unskilled his self defense technique is).
OK, pinch collars. While I know there is controversy regarding the use of pinch and choker collars, I personally feel that if they are used properly it is merely a tool. Unfortunately most people do not use them or fit them properly. So now your 85 lb lab takes off on his retractable leash, your holding one end of the leash he comes to an abrupt halt at the other end. Where do you think that prong will go?
Also choker collars. If your dog is running away from you and reaches the end of his leash, note the direction that his head goes. Probably not the direction it was meant to turn, all this will lead to neck, trachea or back injuries.
Both these collars are made so the owner can make corrections to train and control a dog. With a retractable leash you are giving the dog control so what would be the point of the collar.
OK, time to let off a little steam about one of my pet peeves, retractable leashes. What got me on the soap box was the other night while walking our dogs down a sidewalk that is full of dog friendly outdoor cafes, there was a child around the age of 10 with a large puppy on a retractable leash. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING FOLKS?!
So let’s walk our way through what was wrong with this picture from the beginning. First, the puppy had no idea what the rules were nor did the child. She allowed the dog to long leash around people, sniffing and investigating. While this might seem harmless enough any number of things could have gone wrong. Another dog may not have been happy with the puppies antics and lunged. The puppy could have gotten twisted around someones legs, knocked them over or worse yet cut them with the leash, the cords on these leashes have been known to cut off peoples fingers. The girl might try to control the puppy and not work the leash correctly, hurt herself or drop the leash and let the puppy run off.
I must admit there was a time that I used a retractable leash. I too felt it was an easy way to avoid over exerting myself. I learned my lesson one morning while walking my 80 lb Standard Poodle, Spike. We were at the park on dew wet grass, Spike saw a squirrel running in front of us and took off. I didn’t let go of the leash as I was afraid the plastic handle would ricochet and hurt him. Instead I fell flat on my face and was dragged to the tree where the squirrel had escaped. Face surfing is no fun but at least I didn’t lose a finger, which is not unheard of with these leashes.
According to Consumer Reports, in 2007 there were 16,564 hospital-treated injuries associated with leashes. Of those, about 10.5 percent involved children 10 and younger; 23.5 percent involved injuries to the finger. The CPSC’s data does not parse the leashes into types but it’s likely that the amputations were caused by retractable leashes.
For more information on problems with retractable leashes follow the link.
To me a retractable leash is the a way many people think they can maximize their dogs exercise with out having to exert as much effort. That maybe true but a little exercise never hurt anyone and what better way to get your exercise and bond with your pet. Maybe save some money on that gym membership.