Imagine this. It’s a peaceful afternoon, and you’re on a stroll through the neighborhood with your dog. She ranges ahead on her leash, having a blast sniffing and exploring. Out of nowhere, an off-leash dog races around the corner. Startled, your dog starts barking and bolts toward the dog. Panicked, you forget where the lock button is on the leash handle and end up grabbing the line to try to stop your dog. It zings through your hand, scraping your fingers. Just in the nick of time, you hear the other dog’s owner call it back. With pounding heart, you reel your dog back in, thankful to have escaped disaster. But it was all preventable, with a simple change from a retractable leash to a flat, 4-6 foot leash. Situations like this are one of many reasons we require a flat leash for our dog training clients.
1. Safety: Flat leashes keep the dog close to you
Many people like that retractable leashes give the dog more freedom to exercise. That’s good in an open area like a field or a large park, but it can be a disaster waiting to happen in a public area with people, dogs, and cars around. With a flat leash, you have complete control over how close your dog is to you. If you’re passing a distraction like another dog, you can adjust how you hold the flat leash to keep your dog even closer to you and prevent trouble before it starts.
2. Comfort: Flat leashes pose less risk of injury
Like we talked about in the example scenario, when you’re in the moment it’s easy to forget and grab the retracting line in an effort to stop your dog. This can result in scrapes and blisters to your hand. Not fun. Many falls and injuries to dog owners have resulted from improper use of retractable leashes.
3. Security: Flat leashes are easier to hang on to
Flat leashes can be held securely with both hands, reducing the risk of losing your grip on your dog if he bolts. It’s easy for a retractable leash and handle to be ripped out of your hand. When that happens, the retracting leash “chases” your dog, which makes many dogs spook and run away faster.
4. Training: Flat leashes do not promote pulling
Our goal in training a dog to walk politely on a leash, is to always keep slack in the leash. When the dog pulls ahead and makes the leash tight, we change directions. Part of the dog’s reward for walking by our side is the comfort a slack leash with no pressure on her harness or collar. The problem with a retractable leash is that no matter what the dog does, there is always tension on the leash. A dog who has been on a retractable leash will think that tension on the leash is normal, and will actually pull to maintain that tension. That’s no bueno.
Let’s replay the earlier scenario, this time with a flat leash on your dog. When you see the off-leash dog, your dog is just a few feet away from you. With her securely by your side, you can whip out a handful of treats to throw toward the other dog. You leave it to eat the treats while you make your getaway and breathe a sigh of relief. Disaster averted!
Need help training your dog to walk politely on a leash? Contact us at 501-777-9073 for a FREE Discovery Call.