Retractable leashes are popular primarily because they aren't as confining as regular leashes which allows dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks but unfortunately these leashes aren't safe for the following 4 reasons:
1. The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. It's much easier to regain control of (or protect) a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he's at the end of a thin string.
2. The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the person at the other end.
Also, the plastic handle is slippery and it gets even worse when it's raining because it will be very difficult to hang onto when a dog suddenly pulls at the leash.
4. Because the leashes are so long the temptation is to let the dog be the leader on the walks when it should be the other way around.
The best dynamic is for dogs to be walking beside, slightly in front, or slightly in back of the owner. Dogs will respect the owner who is in charge of the walk and it will make for pleasant walks which is what every dog and owner deserves!
If a client leaves a retractable leash on the counter for me I head out to my car to grab a standard 4 foot leash and then we are all set for a leisurely, enjoyable, and safe walk!
I hope this blog post convinced you walk in the opposite direction from the retractable leash aisle at your neighborhood pet supply store!