Retractable dog leads / leashes get a really bad rap. They are heavily criticised by many “experts” and suggested as being something to be avoided.
Well I am an absolute, unashamed FAN of the retractable leash.
Like many things where humans are involved, it’s not the leash which causes the issue but rather the human holding on to the end of it!
My usage of the retractable leash is when on long walks with my dog in clear, open space. It is not my lead of choice for heavily trafficked areas where I need a higher degree of control or more immediate reactions from my dog.
But in the open it allows freedom for sniffing and ranging (and weeing on the odd post or two….) . It allows him to roam in front and behind me as we move along. These behaviours are an excellent source of enrichment for our canine companions. It is what they were born to do. Having to walk along on a short leash at heel may be necessary at times, and your dog should be able to do this. But they should also be able to just…. be…. a… dog. The other alternative is to have them roaming free completely. However, this is not something I would advocate, unless you are certain your dog will come back! If walking along roadsides or public areas, I would not recommend it at all, and similarly if you are walking in areas where there is wildlife or livestock that they might chase.
Choose a retractable leash that is appropriate for the weight/size of your dog. Bigger dogs need stronger cord/tape and stronger clips. A basic level of obedience training is also recommended. Trying to control a dog at the end of an 8m piece of cord can be difficult and get you (and your dog) into all sorts of problems. And use your noggin! Having your dog free-ranging at the end of its 5m lead whilst walking in amongst other people and/or their dogs at the beach, the park or at an event is not being a responsible human. You are being a pain in the bum. No one wants your dog approaching them uninvited, regardless of how lovely you think your doggie is. And no-one wants to end up tripped over or wrapped up in your leash. Short leads only when in amongst traffic – whether its people, dogs or vehicles.
Will you get smacked in the face by your leash? In 20 years of using various different brands I have never had this happen. However, I always choose a good brand and I always keep an eye on the quality of the cord or tape. Any fraying or chew marks and it’s time for a new one. I’m currently using the Flexi brand, but have also used the Flippy brand with great success.
Get familiar with how the mechanisms work. Cheap brands tend to be rough and unpredictable. Once you have used a decent brand you will never to back to the rough action of the el-cheapos. When walking its going to retract hundreds of times and you’ll be wanting to shorten it and lengthen it over and over. It should be something you can do easily and instinctively. Having to wrestle with a crappy mechanism will make for an unpleasant time for both of you!