Fixed-Length vs Retractable? No Contest

In Part 01 of Walking Equipment, I jumped right in with no debate on what I see as the correct piece of equipment. Today is no different. DITCH THE RETRACTABLE LEADS!! They are dangerous and have the potential to be even more so when they malfunction.

Dangers of Retractable Leads in Normal Use

  1. You leave the lead unlocked, and your dog suddenly runs into the road
  2. The thin, wiry lead gets wrapped around your hand or other limb and causes injury. This situation applies equally to the lead wrapping around the dog.
Retractable Dog Lead Injuries, Dog Walking

Dangers of Retractable Leads due to Malfunction

  1. The locking mechanism fails, and your dog is free to run where he wants, into the road for example
  2. The lead snaps and the dog is free, and you or the dog end up with an injury from the backlash of the lead.
  3. These leads are so thin they can be invisible to other people, causing them to trip on them, or cycle into them, potentially causing harm to the third party, and to your dog.

Which is the best Lead for Training?

For general everyday use, I’ve always advocated the Halti training lead, it’s double-ended and works well with the Perfect Fit harness. However, Perfect Fit has now brought out a similar lead, which will match your harness (so important!).

An Interesting Alternative

I have recently been experimenting with hands-free leads so that I can travel more easily with my dog. I have fallen in love with this lead that you wear around your waist – the actual lead can attach and detach, and so you can use it in the usual way. However, wearing it around your waist stops you from being so ‘handsy’ and trying to steer your dog all the time. Also, the bungee on it helps with loose lead walking. It’s quite a strong force, and Kimber, my dog, has learned that as soon as it engages, it’s a lot of work to go any further, and so unless it’s something really intriguing, he tends not to bother and returns to a position where the lead is loose. On the odd occasion, when he does decide to lunge forward, I no longer get jerked forward, I can brace easily, which saves my shoulder from the strain. As a bonus, my treat pouch can attach to it, so I’m not wearing multiple belts for our walks.


So whichever style of lead you opt for, a fixed-length lead is far superior to retractable leads. Please, do everyone a favour and ditch that retractable!

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