The retractable leashes are a relatively recent invention, dating back to the 1970s.
There are some good reasons to dislike retractable leashes:
As mentioned, in the 1970s, retractable leashes were popularized. You may have seen one around your house a few years back. They were great when you were hiking or camping. There was a problem, though. Leashes come off at odd angles. For some reason, they would fall off the dog and not get right back on. If you weren’t quick enough when you got home, the dog could be left in the back yard on the grass and could get in trouble. Even a very old dog could take that path home at odd hours.
Dog trainers didn’t think retractable leashes should be used. However, retractable-leash proponents have learned from their mistakes.
In the early 1980s, some dog trainers (myself included) were skeptical about a dog’s ability to hold another dog when a leash was pulled off. We had never taken our dogs onto a leash, so we didn’t have the proper training theory yet. One issue for some trainers is the dog’s ability to hold on to your body (the leash) when a leash is pulled off.
The concept of a leash-pulling dog is quite simple. This was a great way to keep our dogs occupied while we went camping or hiking. The dog was held with its paws, which were firmly gripping your back. Once the dog grabbed your back, it was locked in place.
As with anything, there are those times when the dog is unable to hold and pull your back; this is a very common problem.
In some situations, if you are using a retractable leash, it is imperative that you have a dog harness. You can’t walk by yourself with one loose. A trainer can help you get a harness that will safely keep your dog from getting distracted by the leash or other loose objects.
What about retractable leashes for cats?
A few years ago, I was asked to write about retractable leashes on cats. If you’ve ever tried to put your cat on a leash or walked on your hands, you’ll have experienced the difficulty of holding the leash on when a big cat walks. Dogs can be as much as 50 lbs., but don’t expect a 70 kg cat to be holding onto an 80 lb. dog at any time. So we knew that dogs wouldn
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