Why extendable dog leads might be bad news

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Extendable or retractable dog leads are often a popular choice with dog guardians, but they do come with several drawbacks. Here are some of the reasons I don't personally recommend them.

Control issues:

They can make it difficult to control your dog, especially in busy areas or around other dogs and people. This can increase the risk of accidents or your dog getting into trouble with other dogs.

Injury risk:

Both dogs and humans can get tangled in the long, thin cord, leading to cuts, burns, or even more serious injuries. The sudden retraction can also cause harm.

Hampering loose lead walking:

Extendable leads can undermine loose lead walking training efforts. The variable length can confuse dogs about how close they are supposed to be to you and it is difficult to reward good behaviour if your dog is 5 metres away!

Mechanical failure:

Retractable mechanisms can fail, either by not locking properly or by breaking altogether.

Encouraging pulling on the lead:

Your dog might learn to pull more - if you extend the lead when they pull forward you just taught them that pulling gets them more freedom.

Inappropriate for certain areas:

They are not suitable for high-traffic or crowded areas where you need to be in complete control of your dog. They can also be dangerous near roads or in places where quick reactions are required.

Potential for unseen hazards:

It's harder to spot and prevent them from encountering hazards like poisonous plants, sharp objects, or other animals when they are in front of you.

Negative interactions:

The distance provided by the extendable lead can make it harder for you to intervene quickly and help your dog when they have a negative interaction or experience.

Consider a 2m straight dog lead instead

I prefer a 2m straight leads for everyday use and training purposes. I find them a practical choice that balances freedom with safety and control, that are suitable for most environments.

The 2m length gives a dog enough space to explore, while keeping them close enough to you so can you intervene and guide as necessary. They are a great loose lead walking training tool because they make handling easier and enable you to reward your dog for walking nicely close to you.


It’s essential you weigh up the pros and cons of retractable leads and use them safely and responsibly. It's worth remembering that some places even have restrictions or bans on extendable leads.

Find more information about the straight dog leads I like to use when walking my dogs.

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