Flexi’s – The Real Deal Behind Retractable Leashes.

February 7th, 2008 by Dan

 Most of us are familiar with Flexi leashes. These retractable leads are housed in plastic casing that lengthens when your dog walks away from you. They are available for dogs of multiple sizes and come in a variety of models and colors.

Dog on a Retractable Leash

Photo by Pasiphilo

While some owners find these leashes to be a convenient way to walk their dogs with little effort, I must retaliate. I believe that flexi’s are incredibly dangerous and annoying in most cases. Not a day goes by that I don’t see someone being pulled down the street by a dog who is at least 10 feet in front of them, attached to the thin cord of a flexi. More often than not the dog has a choke chain or other completely inappropriate collar on. Only a buckle collar or harness should ever be attached to a retractable lead! There is no reason to ever use a choke chain, a pinch collar or a gentle leader with a flexi, as the unwieldy handle serves no purpose during training. I also see owners not paying attention as their dogs round corners on their own accord- their human companions have no idea what waits for them! There could be an unfriendly dog or heavy oncoming foot traffic on the other side. Unless you have your finger on the “trigger break” – your dog could be walking right into a dog fight. I’ve even seen a dog leashed to a flexi roam across a busy intersection while his owner wasn’t paying attention (luckily the light was red!). His human had to reel him in like a fish in order to get him out of the center of the street.

When interacting with another dog, the thin, rope like cords of retractable leashes are much more likely to become twisted and wrapped around the other dogs limbs as well as the owners who are observing the play. In the best case there is a tangle to be solved- in the worst case a rope burn can result. While this can happen with any kind of leash, the thin, long nature of retractable leads makes it much more difficult to separate the dogs, especially if they continue to gain more leash length by pulling from the flexi.

Rope Burn from a Retractable Leash

Photo by Born in A Zoo

Imagine this, you loose your grip on that large, less than ergonomic handle and it goes flying after your dog. He runs, fearful of the loud, thumping object that is trailing him. This chase continues until one of you is too tired to continue galloping around.

I firmly believe that the only place that flexi’s belong is in wide open spaces where the dogs have room to run while attached to them and where they won’t be in the way of pedestrians. Wide open fields or even urban parks with a great deal of space are good examples of appropriate locations for flexi leash use. They can be useful tools in teaching recalls, but only when they are used with respect to other people and dogs around them. If you ask any other animal professional what they think of retractable leashes, I’m betting most feel the same way!

To read more more about the different kinds of leads available, check out our article on Choosing The Perfect Leash.  I personally own 2 of these leashes for my dogs and wouldn’t go with anything else!

3 Responses to “Flexi’s – The Real Deal Behind Retractable Leashes.”

  1. Classic Dog Article: Choosing A Leash | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Choosing a leash for your dog is not as simple as it looks! There are advantages and disadvantages to many of the materials and types of leashes on the market today. In today’s classic article, I focus on the pros and cons of the most popular types of leash materials. Check out Choosing The Perfect Leash. (Also here is an older blog about Retractable Leashes) [...]

  2. Melody Baum Says:

    Well said! I personally think they are the worst invention for dogs that have been come up with. I’ve seen all the scenarios above and then some.

    The most frequent the dog that sees a cat or something else it decides to chase and because it gets that 10 ft running start and hits the end snapping it right out of the persons hand.

    They, simply put, are not safe. What’s worse, it’s always people who need to be able to have more control that you see with them. I’ve seen elderly people fall because fifi has run circles around their legs and tripped them up.

    Kudos for the post. I hope it will prevent mishaps for other people before they happen.

    Please head this as it can be prevented by using something much more appropriate when walking your dog.

  3. Kirstin P. Says:

    We recently adopted a 8 months old puppy. My partner wanted a retractable leash. I never liked them but what did I know as a first time dog owner ?
    Now looking at my almost 5 year old I keep going over the pictures in my head when said German Shepard puppy ran and knocked my boy over with the leash that caught my boy at the front of his neck.
    I wish I could post a picture just to warn everyone about the dangers. We are lucky the ground was sandy, wet and soft but the way my son literally was yanked through the air will always be in my memory. So will his injury that luckily was only on the surface.

    I threw the leash away.

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