Flexi leads or freedom leashes, might seem like more fun for Fido, but at what cost?
Once touted as the best thing since sliced bread because a retractable leash allow your dog extra freedom while still being on-leash, these flexible leashes are now being banned by many doggy daycare, pet retail, and grooming facilities.
Find Out Why:
As a dog trainer, I cringe when I see a client come in on a flexi-lead. Usually the first thing out of their mouth is then, “my dog pulls constantly!” I usually have to hold my tongue at this point because I really want to say something like this:
Instead, I say something along the lines of “well, you are using an extendable leash that rewards your dog with freedom when he pulls.”
These leashes are a great way to teach your dog to pull. They are the worst way to try and teach your dog loose leash walking or heel. Not only do they reward your dog when they pull, but when they come back to you, or try to give you “loose leash” they are “corrected” by losing their freedom (leash retracts). So why on Earth would your dog ever come back to you?
Probably the most dangerous thing about these leads is the lack of control. In order for an owner to get their dog back, the dog has to come toward the dog. So, if your dog is 20 feet away from you and something happens:
- An aggressive dog appears
- A car comes whizzing out of nowhere
- Your extended leash is over a sidewalk where a biker, skateboarder, etc. is fast approaching
- Your dog is aggressively reacting to someone or something
- Your dog is chasing a bike, car, cat, etc.
- Your leash gets wrapped around another person, dog, etc.
What can you do?
Well, you can lock the leash, so your dog cannot get any more lead, but you can’t bring him back. You are left trying to grab a thin piece of line, and drag your dog back to you, or you have to run the 20 feet to him. And, if you do grab that cord and your dog pulls, you can be severely burned.
This is all assuming you can even see that your dog is in or is causing trouble. If there is a hill or a corner, you may not even be aware.
By the time you have pulled your dog to you or ran to the scene, something tragic could have already happened. It’s just not safe.
It’s for this reason that Keith Miller, owner of Pampered Pooch Playground and Bubbly Paws Dog Wash in Minneapolis, Minn., does not sell them.
“We refuse to sell flex leashes in our stores because of the dangers associated with them,” Miller explains. “I have a huge scab on my leg right now from an irresponsible customer that let her dog run in our door and pull. The leash burned the front of my leg.”
So you want your dog to have a bit of freedom without causing an accident or ruining your training.
Miller suggests the following two leashes, both of which he sells in his stores:
- Stunt Puppy – Stunt Runner Leashes. They are a hands-free leash that gives your dog 3’ of freedom without teaching them that pulling is a good thing. www.stuntpuppy.com
- Ruff Wear – they have several options available, including leashes with the “traffic handle” which are great for when you need to get quick control of your dog. www.ruffwear.com
- 3rd Hand Leash – this is a unique design that has some great features including a quick grab handles and place for your phone or iPod. www.otgpaws.com
A solid leather leash is also always a safe and sturdy choice.