Odds are that many of you reading this, use or have used, a retractable leash to walk your pups. It’s a great way to allow your dog a little freedom without being completely off leash, right? Well, maybe not!

If you ask, many dog trainers and dog experts will be quick to warn you against the use of these types of leashes. The majority will site issues around safety and training. Let’s find out why!


Lack of Control

Let’s say your pup is walking twenty feet ahead of you on a retractable leash. If an incident occurs, you may end up having a ton of trouble trying to handle the situation. 

Additionally, that same lack of control during walks, is not conducive for training purposes.

Leash Locking

Your dog is making a mad dash given all this freedom he has on the leash. You spy a potential dangerous situation. In doing so, you lock the leash. It stops your pup in his tracks, right?

Without knowing, you could possibly just have caused severe injury to your doggy. Spinal injuries and windpipe damage are quite common in this scenario. 

Cord Breakage

Walking a large dog using a retractable leash presents the issue of the cord snapping or breaking. At this point, your pooch is completely off leash and may run into the streets, have a not-so-friendly encounter with another dog or human, and/or face other dangerous situations.

Additionally, cord snaps have caused many injuries to the dog walker and passersby. The snapped cord, or other parts of the device are projectiles. Facial injuries and broken teeth could result. 


Have you experienced cord tangling? Yes, it can happen will all types of leashes. However, the thin cord of a retractable leash presents even more dangers.

Dogs and people can suffer from rope burn, cuts, falls, and even finger amputations. As mentioned earlier, spinal injuries and throat injuries can occur if the cord becomes tangled around a dog’s throat.

Can you imagine the problems with walking two dogs at the same time with retractable leashes?

Behavioral Issues and Training

As mentioned earlier, retractable leashes are not appropriate for training purposes. In fact, this type of leash training is actually teaching your pup that it’s ok to pull. 

Once the behavior is enforced using a retractable leash, it’s so much harder to reverse. Once your pup is trained on a shorter leash, consider a longer leash for sniffing adventures. 


Still not completely sold on giving up your retractable leash? At the very least, give these alternatives a try!

  • Very short leashes for city dwellers or high traffic areas (2 feet)
  • Shorter leashes for training (4 to 6 feet)
  • Expose your pup to more off-leash activity (dog parks, backyard, etc.)


Most of the safety concerns is a result of people not really knowing how to use a retractable leash properly. By no means, should children ever be allowed to walk a dog on a retractable leash. 

One of our missions at Independence Veterinary Clinic is to help save the lives of your pets by providing you educational content. For the safety of your pets, we are giving retractable leashes a huge thumb’s down! Consider using a longer leash as a great alternative, once your pup is trained. 

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