Transcript from this week’s episode of The Web-DVM:
My report this evening concerns from my view, one of the most abysmal inventions in the history of pet products: the extender leash. Oddly, too many pet owners do not agree, and much to the dismay of those that have fallen victim to the shortcomings of these leashes, many continue to use them, and for some odd reason, even like them. For those not familiar with the extender leash, it is a type of leash that has a loaded spring/cartridge handle that allows the leash to be as short as 3 feet, or as long as 15 feet, some even extending to 20 feet. It can lock in place at whatever length the dog owner wishes it to be. Sounds convenient, right? WRONG!
The first problem we see with this kind of leash, is that once it is extended, if a dog needs to be reeled in for whatever reason, it cannot be. So here you are, a car or another dog is approaching, perhaps it is cyclist or a small child you do not want your dog to scare or boulder into. Well good luck with an excited dog with 20 feet of slack you cannot reign in! What’s more, after the first few feet, the leash narrows from a nylon strap to a thin braided nylon rope, perfect for getting the pet owner, approaching cyclist, other dog, or small child tangled up in and riddled with painful rope burns.
This is even more fun when the pet owner thinks that the lock mechanism is place, but it is not; or when the dog is about to take off and the pet owner tries to engage the lock too late, the dog is already pulling too hard and it will not lock down, giving the dog 15 – 20 feet of freedom, with a dangerous, taught rope in between. Yes, this is a most wonderful surprise for all parties involved.
Just 2 days ago, a client had her Chihuahua in my waiting room on one of these genius devices. She had forgotten to engage the lock mechanism and her Chihuahua, like many others of her breed that rarely see another dog they do not want to attack, went after a boxer sitting across the room. The boxer and his owner were minding their own business, boxer kept at bay with a short leash, when along comes an angry Chihuahua bounding across the waiting room poised to attack. The boxer outweighs the Chihuahua by 60 pounds, so naturally, the Chihuahua’s owner is mortified. Left with no other recourse, she grabs and pulls on the thin, braided extender portion of the leash, trying to reign in her determined, angry little dog, meanwhile suffering rope burns on her hands. Another client, an innocent bystander who had simply come in to pick up medication, ended up tangled in the leash as the Chihuahua circled around her, gifting her with rope burns on her legs – it’s shorts weather year round here in Florida. My waiting room descended into utter chaos. Luckily for the Chihuahua, the boxer was a gentle soul and despite being provoked, did not retaliate. Folks, this is not an uncommon consequence of these horrible leashes.
From a training perspective, a dog walked with one of these leashes, never learns leash manners. Teaching a dog to walk along with the owner on a short leash at his side, makes the walk pleasant and productive for both dog and owner. Giving the dog 15-20 feet of slack to take off, jump out into the road, go after squirrels, meanwhile tangling up the owner and other poor souls that may pass by, teaches the dog no walk discipline.
The vast majority of pet professionals whether on the health care side, grooming, or training, detest these kinds or leashes. I am sure that I speak for most when I urge all of you to say no to extender leashes.
This is Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.