We have all heard the horror stories of what these leads can do. They are, quite simply, dangerous to use.
Extendable or retractable leads are often used to walk dogs of all sizes and breeds. Quite apart from the danger and damage they can do to the human handler, they are also not good for the dog.
Dogs have been known to lunge into the road and owners are too slow to prevent this
The lead breaks – the materials used for these leads are not strong enough to hold many strong dogs that pull.
Extendable or retractable leads are unreliable. The lock button does not always work and leads can be difficult to reel in again
Extendable leads do not teach a dog how to walk on a loose lead. One minute the dog has 3 metres of lead and the next he has 6 metres because he is pulling so the owner allows the lead to extend to ease the pulling. Then suddenly, the owner needs to get the dog back to her and reels in the lead and the dog finds he now only has 1 metre. Confusing for the dog and does not provide consistency for teaching lead walking.
When the lead is let out to afford the dog some freedom (or to ease the pulling) and then stopped, they do so in a harsh manner. Often the dog is stopped with speed as the owner presses the lock button. This jerk, especially if used in conjunction with a collar, can cause pain or injury to the dog.
We should also consider Classical Conditioning (Pavlov and his dogs). Classical conditioning involves associative learning. Many owners will hit the Hold button on the extendable lead when they see another dog, in order to prevent their dog running over. Over time, if this jerk of the lead causes pain or discomfort, it could become associated with seeing other dogs.
If a dog is being walked on an extendable lead it usually means they are not safe to be off lead. But it is not possible to control a dog at 3 metres, 4 metres, 5 metres or more away from their owner.
Dogs at the end of an extendable lead are not under control and are free to lunge at other dogs, passer by etc. or even cars and bicycles. Dogs on such leads can also be vulnerable to being lunged at by other dogs