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How To Use Your Extendable Dog Lead Safely

I finally caved and bought Luna an extendable dog lead.

I’ve never been keen on them and you’ll find out why further on in this post.

But Luna’s recall is still not perfect and there are some places where she could definitely run and explore but I would not want to risk letting her off lead.

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I walk Luna fairly often in woods near our home where it is quiet and I allow her off-lead.

However, we’ve started making more trips out to the seaside and onto the South Downs. Both of these have more people and more dogs (both of which she’s still wary of)

I started thinking that perhaps there is a time and a place for a retractable dog lead in our lives.

Concern #1 - Control & Safety

My main concern with extendable dog leads is the lack of control you have over your dog.

When we first got Luna, she was extremely anxious and had to be double leaded just to make sure she didn’t escape her lead and run. There was no way I felt I could control her with anything less solid than a standard lead.

Now she’s more settled, I only use one lead but I still wouldn’t use an extendable lead anywhere near a road.

With a standard lead, I know Luna can only go so far. With an extendable lead unlocked, it only takes a split second distraction and she could run out onto the road.

If you use an extendable lead near roads to get to a safe dog walking space such as the beach or a park, make sure to keep your lead locked at a sensible length until you get there.

Concern #2 - Injuries

The three main types of injury that can occur from an extendable lead are:

  • neck/head injuries to your dog
  • shoulder injuries to you
  • rope burns/cuts to both you and your dog

The first two injuries are caused when a dog runs and the lead unravels to it’s end. This causes a jolt both to dog and owner.

You need to be aware of the length of your extendable lead to avoid this.

Also, having even a slight recall ability can help to prevent these injuries as you can call your dog to stop them before they reach the full length of the lead.

The third type of injury is mainly caused by corded type extendable leads but still needs to be considered with tape leads. The cord can very easily get wrapped around a dog’s leg (or a human leg) and when the lead gets tight, it will cut into the limb. 

Beware of touching the lead at all other than with the handle. The cuts can go deep and fingers can need to be amputated (no pictures here but google will give you an idea if you’re really interested in what this looks like…)

Cuts are less likely with a tape lead as it’s thicker. Therefore, having a tape extendable lead vs a cord extendable lead was high on my priorities when I was searching for the right one for us.

Concern #3 - Mechanism Failure

Nobody likes to think it’ll happen to them but products do break.

What if you try to stop your dog with the mechanical lock and it malfunctions?

What if the tape snaps and your dog gets away?

These things are so important to keep in mind. It’s harder to see wear and tear on an extendable lead as it’s all encased inside the main body. Whereas with a standard lead, you can easily see when it needs to be replaced if it gets damaged.

You need to have plans in place for these situations in case they do happen, especially if injury could be caused to your dog, another dog or human.

Also bear in mind the maximum dog weight for the lead. You should always aim to have plenty of additional kilograms to be on the safe side. This is to try and reduce the risk of snapping and breakage.

Concern #4 - Teaches Dogs To Pull

Due to the retractable nature of an extendable dog lead, there will always be some pull from the lead where it is trying to retract back into the casing.

This is turn causes the dog to pull on the lead just to move forwards. 

Luna pulled a lot on her lead initially so this was a huge factor for why I didn’t get a retractable lead earlier on.

Now that Luna has settled into our home, her anxiety has reduced. She’s had lots of consistent training and is able to walk fairly consistently with a loose lead.

As she’s now able to walk on a loose lead, I am much more comfortable with having her on an extendable lead on occasion.

Some Concerns But They Do Give More Freedom!

Luna’s now able to explore more when we go to the beach or onto the South Downs.

Places where I wouldn’t usually let her off-lead due to more people and dogs.

It gives her the ability to go where she wants within reason or stop to smell something good when she wants to.

  • 5m of length is plenty for safely exploring
  • Easy to apply brake button with secure lock
  • Adjustable handle grip within the handle space to make it more comfortable to hold
  • Approximately 21 cm x 14 cm
  • Approximately 540g
  • Maximum dog weight = 50kg
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