Yesterday we went on our first beach walk since lockdown, and on the way out of the car park, on the road leading out of the beach, I noticed a little dog close to the edge of the pavement coming out of a side road – it took a few seconds to see the owner as he was several meters behind and the dog was on a retractable lead.

Why I don’t think you should own a retractable lead.

I have pretty strong feelings about retractable leads – I don’t think any dog owner should have one, and here’s why:

When we first adopted Boo, her recall was non existent so I thought a retractable lead would be a good idea so she could roam around a little. I was on a walk with a friend when Boo took off and because she was able to build up speed because of the length of the lead, the handle snapped out of my hand and went with her. Thankfully, a few seconds later she was stopped by the fact that the handle got caught round a fallen tree branch. What terrifies me though is if that would have happened further out into the woods where I wouldn’t have been able to see her – she would have been stuck and unable to get back to me.

Blue whippet in a red and white striped tshirt running towards the camera on the beach

Dented pride.

Did I learn my lesson? Oh no! When Shadow had an small injury and needed to be walked on lead, I decided to dig out the retractable lead again. The same thing happened as I bent down to pick up poop, Shadow spotted a dog he wanted to say hello to and because my attention was on cleaning up after him, he got to the end of the lead before I knew it, and because he built up speed, pulled me right off my feet, knocking the wind out of me and denting my knees and my pride.

Suffice to say, we now have long bungy leads (by Ruffwear) if one of the dogs ever needs to be on lead as it gives a little spring rather than a hard stop, and when we were training Boo, we used a long training line instead.

As well as my personal experience – I have had to swerve from dogs running into the middle of the road when the owners couldn’t stop the lead quick enough, seen people get tangled off and pulled over and a multitude of other accidents. I’ve also heard horrific things about burns on hands when the ‘brake’ fails on the handle, not to mention that if the dog is on a collar rather than a harness and they are able to build up speed only to be stopped suddenly as it reaches the end of the line. 

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on this? Have you only had positive experiences with retractable leads? Or have you had a similar experience to me? Do you have other options you are think are better?

Kerry x


Professional dog photographer covering Surrey, Sussex & Hampshire.

1 Comment

  1. Toni Greatorex

    I’ve had leg burns from retractable leads from someone else’s JRT circling my legs, and I’ve had dog tangles and trips from someone else’s dog on a retractable lead. Fine for one small dog in a safe open space. They should really come with handling instructions for novice owners though.


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