The MSPCA-Angell recommends that retractable leashes should not be used in most situations, and are not recommended by our Behavior team or our Adoption Centers, due to safety risks for pets and their owners. Examples of these risks include:
If the brake isn’t on and your dog moves suddenly, the thin cord can injure you if you grab it.
You cannot inspect the cord itself or the mechanism inside the handle for wear and tear.
The cord can snap with the right amount of force, e.g., when pulled by a big dog with a good amount of speed, or if it is worn out or defective.
If you drop the handle, it can make a loud noise, and can frighten your dog, causing them to run away from you.
Safety and Training:
It teaches your dog to pull on the leash, rather than pay attention to you.
If another dog attacks your dog, or if you need to bring your dog closer to you because of traffic, you cannot quickly shorten the leash.
If two dogs meet, it is easy for retractable leashes to become tangled, and this can lead to a dog fight as the dogs cannot quickly move away from one another.
It is hard to hold training implements such as clickers or food when holding the handle.
For these reasons, MSPCA-Angell recommends using traditional, non-extendable leads when leashing your dog. An inexpensive 20-foot cotton lead can be held at 3 feet or let out all the way as needed. Simply hold the handle in your right hand, and fold up the parts of the lead you are not using, placing them in your right hand next to the handle.