Like the Tilt-A-Whirl and its height restriction, some leashes have WEIGHT restrictions. But why?
You may have noticed (or haven't had to ask) that the leashes we sell in store do not have a WEIGHT restriction. That is because the leashes we choose to sell are manufactured to uphold any weight, size, or age of all dog types. They're ALL LIFE STAGES LEASHES! *writes down marketing concept*
I was once asked in the store what the weight restriction was on our leashes and I laughed citing "Weight restriction? What would it have one?" and the customer gently informed me "Some leashes have them because they can break. The retractible ones have them." And then new pet store owner Megs went down a rabbit hole that would last for years about retractible leashes.
So I have to ask myself and others... why the risk?
With pet accessories we never buy anything that could pose a safety risk. You would never buy a harness that advises. "If dog smaller than XXX, dog could escape from harness". God no, you always want the safest products when we take our pets on adventures and most of "restrictions" SHOULD be common sense. Like finding the right fit, or ensuring collars are on tight enough, or that dogs are supervised with toys or bully sticks. This also comes from education from your local pet specialty retailer.
If I've ever given you the riot act on retractible leashes, forgive me.
I'm one of the rare types of people who loves other people, but I'm always open and honest about my dislike for retractible leashes. If I've given you a lecture please know that I love you and your dog and I'm a monster about any news I hear and I MUST SHARE IT. Most folks who buy retractable leashes get them because 1) that's all they've ever known 2) grew up using one on the family dog 3) think they're fun because it gives the dog freedom to roam as they please!
But do we want dogs roaming as they please?
When my dog roams as she pleases she shits in our spare room.
We make very careful choices in what we sell in our store and even when we know it'll sell, well, we still make choices that are best for pets. After all, they can't make decisions for themselves. We could sell Royal Canin and would probably get rich off doing so, but we choose NOT to sell it because we want to do what's best for pets and for new pet owners. Just because we can, doesn't always mean we should. Mmmmmm brewer's riiiiiiiiice *smacks lips*.
Rules, like retractible corded leashes, sometimes get broken.
We also had to create a rule in the store to keep retractible leashes short as we have had more dogs wrap themselves around table legs and knock over product than not. One time this past summer a dog on a non-locked retractible leash ran behind the counter where I was standing while the cord swiftly made its way across the back of my bare calves. And let me tell you. I didn't know I was signing up for a burning leg hair threading that day but here we are. But my dislike from these types of leashes doesn't just come from how I see they're used inside of our store or the fact that dogs will go SO far on them that they'll literally go sneakily pee then run back to their owners all "Hey! How's it going over here, finding me a bully stick?". I'm not blaming pet owners, or the dogs, or even the manufacturer really, it's no one's fault. I don't even know if there's anyone to blame, but as most things in this industry sometimes it just takes a different perspective - people challenging the norm. Unlike tech, our industry evolves SLOWLY and half the time as we see it for ourselves, not a lot of pet specialty wants to evolve.
Though incredibly popular, these leashes have proven to do more harm than good.
If your dog is a puller, probably not the best option unless you keep it locked the entire time. Efficacy with reducing pulling can simply even come from TENSION. If a dog is on walk and can willy nilly explore to their heart's desire, why would they EVER heel versus chasing a squirrel. I sure as hell wouldn't, have you SEEN squirrels?
They can BREAK. Back to the weight issue. Before we opened Doodle Dogs I was walking my dog one day and a young woman and I had to chase down her 7-month-old lab because her retractible leash broke. I gave her my leash and carried my dog home. Before I even knew very much myself about pet ownership I remember thinking "How TF did that just happen? Do leashes just BREAK? I hope Weechee's leash never breaks??". That little ribbony cord when met with the improper size dog can SNAP. If you don't upgrade your puppy's retractible leash your adult dog may just end up running all over Confederation Park. Weeeeee!
Ergonomics. My dog's leash has a beautiful little loop I can drape around my wrist when needed or can be held comfortably in my hand. Have you ever see a retractible leash handle? It's like a fucking Xbox controller. Big, bulky, plastic, awkward. Pair these with a never-ending lead and you'll feel just like you're flying a kite!
Not the leash recommended by cpdt-ka certified training professionals.
As long time dog training professional and leash maker Super Boss behind North Range Dogs, Shannon Blackadder is all too familiar with retractible leashes and the effects it can have on how a dog walks.
"I really don't like them, I have seen a lot of terrible injuries to owners, dogs, and other pathway users. If the locking mechanism fails, the people's dogs are 20 feet out with no control; they essentially teach dogs TO pull since they are always pulling against tension. When the human drops the handle part, it can terrify a dog and cause them to bolt.
I would use them for a client who didn't have the dexterity to use a long line properly (I love long lines! I think I make, sell, and use more of them than any other product). If I HAD to use one, I would get the "tape" type."
Shannon has been teaching dog pawrents for 7 years how to navigate the complicated world of pet behaviours and training techniques.
Retractible leashes are often sold in places that don't specialize in PETS.
Think of the big box stores that aren't pet stores, what do they sell for leashes? Exactly. Because they're not pet specialty. And what do non pet specialty retailers know about leashes? Not a ton, god bless. That's where you come in! You would have to know all the ins and outs of what you're buying just like down in aisle 3 where the non-stock pans are. Again, no one's fault, they bring them in due to the item's popularity. If we sold them I would probably have a luxury license plate that reads "FL3X1E", let's be honest.
This big box store even calls it "Pet Pull Rope"
Next time you're on a walk with your pup I want you to take a look at the items listed above and see if they're making your dog a BETTER or WORSE walker. Try using a standard leash sometime, or heck, even a hands free leash and you just might notice how much better it contributes to you and your dog's lifestyle!
Written by: Meghan Huchkowsky, Co-Owner Doodle Dogs