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This Is Why Dog Trainers Hate Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes are very popular everywhere. Dogs seem to love them because of the distance they get to travel before it stops. Dog owners love them because they are relatively easy to use. But, dog trainers hate them. Why do dog trainers hate retractable leashes?

Dog trainers hate retractable leashes because they can encourage bad behavior like pulling. They also hate this type of leash because they can be dangerous for canine and human. People can get burned from the rope of this leash or even severe a finger. Yikes! Read on to find out more!

What Is A Retractable Leash?

A retractable dog leash is a leash that allows your dog to wonder 10-20 feet away from you. It has a thin rope on a hook that reacts automatically. A reasonably large plastic handle typically covers the cable. There is a button or switch that allows you to release the rope and stop the line.

Personal Experience With A Retractable Leash

Now truth be told, I have a retractable leash for my dog (a Yorkshire Terrier). I also have my dog on a harness since Yorkies are known to have trachea issues, so to be on the safe side, I use a harness and attach the retractable.   

I like the leash, but I also dislike the dog leash. Why? You ask. Well, for starters the even though the retractable leash gives the dog some ‘freedom” while out on a walk. It also has given my dog the idea that it is okay to pull and walk ahead of me. Kind of like she is taking me for a walk, not the other way around. If she gets behind because she is interested in something, she will pull back, or just won’t move. My dog also pretends that she can’t hear me when she is on a mission while wearing the retractable leash. It is quite funny at times. My husband and I get a good laugh from time to time. 

The reason why I like the retractable leash is that it allows my dog to have a little more freedom while out on walks. We used to have a regular dog leash that was only a few feet long. This didn’t work for us. Kiki was unable to investigate things without being pull back once she ran out of the leash, which wasn’t long in the first place. With a little training, we have been able to teach her not to pull.

This leash is also very easy to use and convenient.

Okay, let’s move on to the reason why you are here. Why do dog trainers hate retractable leashes?

Dog Trainers Hate Retractable Leashes Because:

Teaches Your Dog To Pull

The retractable leash comes in many different lengths. These lengths range from 10 – 25 feet. A dog that has this much space to run around makes for a happy dog. However, it may not make for a happy owner. Unless you have trained your dog to stay by your side when walking, then your dog will want to use all the room on the leash. Now the problem is that maybe you don’t want your dog going ahead too much. So, you put the brake on the leash. The dog then has to stop as it cannot go any further. However, your dog wants to keep going, so it will pull as hard as it can to get you to go faster, or give them more leash.  

When on walks, dogs should not be ahead of the owner. They should be at the side of the owners. Having a retractable leash teaches them to pull and can cause some unwanted behavior and bad manners. Another reason why dog trainers do not like this type of canine leash.

Improper Equipment Pairing 

Another reason why dog trainers are not a big fan of retractable leashes is that a lot of the time, these leashes are used with improper equipment. Retractable leashes should only be used with the rope it comes with. These types of canine leashes are always putting tension on your dog. Therefore, if anything other than the cable and equipment the leash comes with can be putting your dog in harm’s way. Things like pinch collars, choke chains and prong collars should never be used with a retractable leash. 

Flexi lead/retractable leashes used with a training collar is another reason dog trainers hate this type of dog leash. The training collar is used, so you have more control over your dog. But if you are using a retractable leash with it, then it’s pretty much counterproductive. I say this because the training collar is used to help control the dog, and the retractable leash allows for your dog to pull and take control.

The Wandering Canine 

Dogs love to explore! We know this because when we take our furry canine out they have their nose to the ground and in every nook and cranny they can find. When it comes to retractable leashes, dogs are given much more distance to do their exploring.  

Have you ever been to the pet shop, and an owner is at one end of the aisle and their dog at the other? Yes, I bet you have seen this. I know I have countless times. I’ve seen dogs pee on things, play with toys, and even steal a few snacks from time to time. All the while, the owner has no idea with their dog is doing because they are distracted with something else. Not to mention that some of these dogs are aggressive and have tried biting people walking by them in the aisle. 

Having a retractable leash can actually put your dog in danger. Dogs may wander into traffic if given too much room on the leash. Or, they may dart off after something. Even though retractable leashes have a “brake,” there are a lot of people who don’t know how to use it. I have witnessed dogs taking off after something while on a retractable leash, and the owner was unable to put the brake one. So what happens? The dog leash is pulled right out of the owner’s hands.

If you must use a retractable leash, then make sure you know how to use it. It seems easy, but trust me, looks can be deceiving. It took me a few tries to get it right.


Dog trainers hate retractable leashes because they can cause injuries. Yes, injuries. Who knew? I, for one, can say that these leashes can cause harm. I’ll tell you a true story at my husband’s expense. We were out one day walking Kiki using the retractable leash. She had Maltese (dog breed) friend named Max, who she was very fond of. Well, while out on our walk, Max should up with his owner, and Kiki got very excited. In all the excitement between the two dogs, somehow, the leashes (both retractable) got tangled and wrapped around my husband’s leg. His calf was burned by rope, and he got an infection from it. He also had a burn mark on his leg for months.  

Big dogs on retractable leashes can cause injury as well. A big dog is athletic and if they decide to take off, you’d better be ready with the brake. If not, you could end up with a dislocated shoulder and hurt neck. Yikes! Remember that your fingers are at risk as well. Did you know that fingers could get ripped off if caught around the rope? Double Yikes! Always practice safety and know how to use the leash. 


Retractable leashes can be awkward, heavy, and big. Have you ever tried taking the dog for a walk, picking up the mail at the mailbox, and pick up their poop? Well, I’ll tell you right now, it is not fun. With a standard leash, you can just wrap the loop of the dog leash around your wrist. Not with a retractable. You have to hold it along with everything else, or you have to put it under your arm and hope the dog doesn’t decide today is the day he’s going to make a run for it.  

They are heavy, so it is pretty easy to drop the leash. I know because I have done it on many occasions, and well had to run after the dog. Not good! 

There you have it—the reasons why dog trainers hate retractable leashes. Let’s take a look at when is the appropriate time to have and use a retractable leash.

When and Why

Retractable leashes are best used out of the city. In the city is where your dog could run out in traffic, or get tangled in another dog’s leash. And we know where this can lead to- injuries of the leg, or even amputation of fingers!

A great place to go with a retractable leash is on a beautiful long hike with your furry companion. You want to make sure that the trail does not include any edges where the dog could fall off of. A clear straight path is best for you and your dog. Some dogs can hike for hours, depending on the dog breed, that is. When going out on hikes, make sure there is enough water for you and your dog. Dogs should always have access to fresh water. Bring some treats as well. A good hike out in nature gets makes for a hungry dog and human.  

These types of leashes can be used in the city. However, you have to careful and know exactly how to use it, and its brake. As you have just learned, there are many ways to get injured using a retractable leash—especially those who don’t know how to use one. If you want a retractable or have one and don’t know how to use it, there are many videos on YouTube that could help you out.


This is the end of the article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned a few things. I can see why dog trainers hate retractable leashes. I’ve even experienced some of the reasons why they are hated by dog trainers. However, I have one for my dog. But, my dog is older, and she really doesn’t pull or take off like a bat out of hell anymore. She likes to chill and just walk with us. She may get ahead of us, but only about a foot or so. Would I get one in the future for another dog? Yes, I would, for a small dog. Not so sure I would want a long retractable with a large and powerful dog. But that is just me. What do you think? Do you like the retractable leash? Do you hate it? Let us know by leaving a comment.  

Until next time my friends. Stay safe.

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