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My girl Maddie(the one in my profile pic) she is well trained. She can wave to me on command and jump on command. She uses a gentle leader for her walks and she never pulls. I have been considering a retractable leash for her, since she loves exploring on our walks.She is 4 years old. What are y’all’s opinions on this?
 

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I have several retractable leashes - which I NEVER use.

It's very easy for even a well-trained dog to dash into traffic or other trouble. Sometimes the results are comical, such as when our 116-pound lab took off after a squirrel. There was a cop parked across the street and I didn't dare let go but by the time he reached the end of the retractable leash he had a powerful head of steam going. He pulled me off my feet and dragged me some distance across the grass. I am NOT a small person. I ended up with grass stains from head-to-toe. Did I mention I was dressed for church and just taking the dog for a quick stroll before we had to leave.

Sometimes it's not so funny, such as when our miniature schnauzer quickly reached the end of an extension leash my wife was holding to bite someone who had somehow offended him.

Most retractable leashes have a brake, but it's easy to get distracted and it's amazing how quick a motivated dog can be.
 

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The key thing to remember about retractable leashes is that they require tension to work. I'd never use one with a headcollar. I will (rarely) use one on a regular collar or harness, and several people I know use them for certain nosework searches.

However, as Ron said, your dog can make a dash and be at the end of the line before you can react. And then, if you haven't taught your dog that that THING that is coming flying at them as the line spools back up won't kill them, you will likely have have a panic stricken dog trying to escape it's own leash.
 
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we have very few places where dogs can be off lead and of course George is a hunter so there are very few places he can possibly be off lead ..a retractable lead is a good tool but like every tool they are only as good as the handler and sad to say but in 90% of cases the handler is an idiot.
retractable leads should not be used in traffic, busy streets, around people ,when throwing a ball , when playing with other dogs.. . etc all things that I've seen.
I have used retractable leads on dogs ranging from 15 to 60 pounds for nearly 40 years and I have never had an accident, never been pulled over , never had my dog run out in traffic and never had burns because I've read the instructions carefully and I use the tool carefully.

if you are going to use one use it wisely, use it carefully according to the instructions and choose a proper brand you might pay double the price that you would for one of these cheap ones but it's well worth it ...I actually always grade up so with my 20 kilo beagle I have a lead capable of holding 50 kilo dog. I always and only ever used the retractable lead with a harness in areas that are safe for my dog and we practice walking with the lead I do not allow my dog's to simply dart off to the end of the lead and jerk any more than I would with a short lead or a long line it is all a matter of practice but it can give dogs that bit of freedom that they might otherwise lack in a society that is not tolerant of loose running dogs.
 

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Also, make sure you buy a retractable lead that is 100% nylon tape without any of the cord. Yes, it is slightly heavier & may cost a little extra. There is still an injury risk with any retractable leash - but the retractable leashes that have a foot or so of tape/regular leash & then a thin cord that spirals in the leash is more likely to cause injuries because the cord is what you often see the injuries from when it becomes wrapped tightly around a person's skin.
 

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And a retractable leash should never be your only leash. It should be used for specific situations only. You need a standard leash to be used at the vet or pet store or any time you will be walking in a crowded area (dogs or people).
 

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We have one somewhere, but found that the only times it was really useful was when we were walking in fields or other places with minimal obstructions and no vehicular traffic/minimal foot traffic. In woods it gets pulled around trees and brush and, unlike a long line, you can't just drop it and pick it up past the obstruction. On sidewalks and in populated areas it just didn't give me enough control or dexterity to feel safe or work on any kind of training.

To be fair, my older dog is leash reactive and will bark/lunge at other dogs, so I need better control and occasionally the ability to use both hands (by looping the leash around my wrist or body) so I can manage him and practice calming and focus exercises. My younger dog is still an excitable teenager who's getting intensive leash manners training, and I don't want to put him on anything that will teach him pulling gets him more freedom right now. I may well find Flexis more versatile if I had a mellow, non-reactive dog with existing good leash manners.

But the risks others have described above are worth considering, even with a dog who's typically very chill and stable. Traditional gear can fail too, of course; buckles break, collars get backed out of, etc. But it tends to be much more dramatic with a Flexi because more things can break (like the locking mechanism) and the tendency for them to 'chase' the dog if the whole handle gets dropped.
 

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There is only ONE use for a retractable leash that I have found and that is to use it for Oppositional reflex when training a stationary exercise at a distance and then only when first teaching the distance (I use a regular leash to first teach stationary exercise with oppositional reflex and I am next to the dog).

Other than that, they are useless.

When I am walking my dog and I see someone coming towards me with a retractable leash I stop, get out of the path and put my dog in a sit until they go by.. since most people will not reel their dog in and cannot control it if they do. JME with those who use retractable leashes.
 

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For the purpose you describe, I'd just use a long line. More reliable than a retractable leash, and serves the same purpose.
 

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we also have a long line tried it in a forest but they're very wide paths so it gave Murphy a bit of a chance to explore , he saw a squirrel he darted I was unprepared and one of the loops of the line dropped.. even though I had gloves on it slipped looped on my foot and I went flying the cost was dental surgery.. I'll stick to my retractable ...never had a problem with that.

Each to their own we still have a long line and we do use it at times especially with George on areas such as the beach where he is not going to get distracted by prey but I prefer my retractable I know that I can control it and as I said if it's used properly it's a good tool.. the longline is also a good tool but it can have just as many drawbacks as a retractable.
 

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I wouldn't use one for urban walks, but they are great for hikes, as it leaves room for exploring without the mess of having to deal with a long line

my dog is smaller and I have never had a issue holding him back, and he is not one to dart. So we've been fine
 
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