Veterinarian - San Diego
1540 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110



By Morena Pet Hospital
April 06, 2014
Category: Pet Safety


We are no strangers to the traumas that may occur during training exercises with your pet.  We don’t claim to have seen it all, but we have seen enough (hit-by-cars, rope burns, leash injuries) to warrant caution when choosing your pet’s training equipment. 

Although one of the hottest selling pet products in recent years, you may be surprised to learn that retractable leashes have also drawn much criticisms from the veterinary profession.  According to a recent article on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), communities have considered trying to ban the devices, and some pet-friendly businesses and dog-related events discourage owners from using them.  Even most puppy training classes and behaviorists require you to use a standard 6 ft. leash in class because they give you more control over your dog, keep your dog at a manageable distance, and it is relatively easy to use especially during the early learning stages.

Use caution when using products such as retractable leashes, prong collars, choke collars.  Improper use of these training mechanisms can be very problematic for both you and your pet. 

Teaches dog to pull on leash.

Having your dog on a retractable leash, allows them too much freedom especially if used for training.  Your dog may not learn that there are pressure restrictions while being on a retractable leash, allowing your dog to pull even harder.

No control

Many times it also puts the handler in a position of constantly being reactive instead of proactive on the walk.  A dog may be allotted too much leash and for whatever the reason, run into the road with oncoming traffic or even fight with other animals before the owner has time to retract the leash. 

Referring back to our previous article, Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leash, you must take on the role of the pack leader and train your dog to view you as the one in charge.  A dog that thinks that he/she makes decisions AND that he/she is entitled to unlimited space and freedom is a dog that will never recognize you as a leader, which has the tendency to cause greater behavioral issues down the line.

Easy to break

The cables aren’t infallible, especially for use with strong, energetic breeds. Always check your gear for bites or rips before walks. During training exercises, practice calling your dog back a lot, so it works in an emergency.  If all else fails, make a game out of it to try to get your dog to chase you should he brake off his leash.  Remember, to have your pet microchipped or use a GPS locating collar for instances like these.

 May cause injuries to both pets and people if not used properly. 

The most common injuries reported are muscular injuries (such as neck strain or sprain) or more severely, a cervical intervertebral disc herniation from the pet being yanked back with the leash (DeGioria, 2014).  To prevent such occurrences, always use a back-attachment harness when using retractable leads, never a prong collar, head collar, flat collar, or front-attachment harness, because of the damage they can inflict on your pet.  It is also possible for the pet to be entangled in the leash cord or ingest the cord, both of which may cause even further harm to your pet.

People certainly aren't immune to injury, either. Manufacturers warn that if used improperly, a suddenly yanked retractable leash can cause people to fall or sustain friction burns or get fingers/hands tangled in the cord itself.

With so many options available nowadays (from traditional leashes to harnesses and gentle leaders), it is no wonder the immense amount of time one can spend in the pet aisle searching for the best collar and leash option for you and your pet. 

Please refer to our previous blog articles listed below for training tips and recommendations for collars/leashes or contact our office directly for specific recommendations for your pet based on his/her medical and breed background to ensure your pet’s safety and happiness.

Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leash

Dog Training Part 2: How to Leash-Walk Your Dog


DeGioria, Phyllis, Injuries, Behavioral Problems Linked to Retractable Leashes, The Vin News Service. March 27, 2014.