5 Reasons Why Trainers Rarely Recommend Flexi Leashes.

December 20, 2021
December 20, 2021

Whether you call them Flexi Leashes, retractable leashes or extendable leashes. They’re interesting and spark a lot of debate amongst owners, dog enthusiasts and trainers.

To me? They’re a very specific tool that needs to be applied in a very specific scenario.

And I wanted to explain my position so that you can decide if they’re an appropriate tool for you and your pup. My position is one echoed by a lot of dog trainers and hopefully will give you some insight as to why we don’t like to recommend them.

1 – They Encourage Pulling

Do you know how many people who want to know why their dog is pulling, I investigate the equipment and they say their dog walks on a flexi-lead. Makes me chuckle, but I know it’s because it’s not discussed. So here you go!

Your dogs desire is to increase their distance from you. They want more freedom and as they move forward, the flexi-leash extends out and gives them exactly that. They’re not necessarily cognicent that the leash has an end, where that end is, or that when they get to a certain distance it won’t extend any further.

Thus? The flexi leash not only permits pulling but it encourages it.

If you want your dog or puppy to walk nicely on a leash, it would be a good idea to ditch the flexi-leash if you want a nice loose leash walk.

it's very rare that a dog wont walk at the very end of one of these leashes, they're designed to be extended
it’s very rare that a dog wont walk at the very end of one of these leashes, they’re designed to be extended, which in turn rewards your dog for pulling.

2 – A Lack Of Control

Unlike a fishing rod- an extendable leash has no ability to reel in your dog. It’s often the case that a dog on a flexi-leash is a dog that doesn’t have a reliable recall. Consequently, when your dog is too far ahead they can get into a predicament. And getting out of that often results in you needing to get closer to the problem before you can resolve it.

They also have swing left and right that gives them an abundance of freedom. Great in some circumstances, but risky in others.

I’ve heard of more than one instance where dogs lives have been put at risk as a result of these issues.

If you do still wish to use a flexi-leash and you need to remove your dog from a potential situation? Hit reverse! Back up and start walking away.

3 – Degrading Of Materials.

They also have a lot of parts you can’t see, so you can’t tell the wear and tear until it’s too late. It does happen! It’s also really the case that these leashes are severely restricted on weight and I would never trust the weight ratings on them and always go for a size too large to ensure maximum safety.

Let’s not get into a pickle if we don’t have to. Want proof? Read this.

4 – Can Be Dangerous

There’s an instinct when your dog starts running to grab the rope that’s unravelling at a rate of knots (see what I did there?) but the string ones can cause awful rope burn to the hands.

There are two types and both the tape and the string sorta are renowned for getting tangled in other dogs or around human legs. I know someone who ended up in hospital on traction because of flexi leads! And the problem is that it happens so quickly that it’s often too quick to even process, let alone react practically too.

And severed fingers? That’s happened too

Beagle on a flexi-leash retractable leash lead
Beagle on a flexi-leash – it’s really common for breeds who struggle with recall (like beagles and huskies) to walk on retractable leashes to give them some sense of freedom. But are they always the right tool for the job?

5 – Improper use

I see it so often, but flexi leads are only safe when used in conjunction with a harness.

Categorically do not use a flexi lead on:

A Prong collar
❌ A Flat Collar.
❌ A Head collar.

All of these will risk whiplash or other neck or head injuries to your dog – which is totally unnecessary, so be safe! Be secure! Use a harness. And if you’re unsure what to pick? Head to Dog Products Reviewed! where you can see my favourite products to use with your woof!

In Short…

Flexi-leashes are not on my list of recommended tools very often. They have a small number of uses, and a much greater list of times not to use them for safety reasons.

They can be used in place of a long line – but only in open environments, where you’re not likely to trip someone, they should only ever be used as the tape varieties and they should be a nice high visibility colour.

To be honest, it’s something that I find so few people either need or would benefit more from than a long line… If you’re not sure what equipment to use, check out Dog Products Reviewed by Rebarkable to get my insights into a bunch of products!

If you need help with raising your pup, you want guidance or coaching through the first year of your pup’s life? Then go get pupdates, they’re the best value way to raise your puppy!

Ali from Rebarkable and her dog Indie

Need help? Book a bark day!

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!


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