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Hazards of Retractable Leashes

Are retractable leashes safe? The answer depends on how and where the retractable leash is used. 

Dogs are “conditioned response animals,” which means they learn predominantly through repetition.  A retractable leash allows your dog a bit more freedom than a traditional 6’ leash. 
Therefore, every time you take your dog for a walk on a retractable leash, your dog is learning it has more freedom to run and play; which is precisely why retractable leashes are
potentially dangerous.  If you and your dog are walking in an open area, a retractable leash should be okay, as long as certain precautions are followed.  Most retractable leashes come
with a disclaimer that warns dog owners of possible dangers:

The locks on many retractable leashes have a tendency to unlock; often at the most inopportune time!
In an instant you and your dog could find yourselves in a dangerous situation: your dog could dart out into
traffic or get too close to vicious dog.  Another common lock malfunction is when the lock refuses to
unlock quick enough.
Serious injuries can and have occurred when the cord of the retractable leash becomes wrapped around
the dog and/or owner’s leg(s).  And instinctually grabbing the cord with one’s hand can cause acute (rope)
burns and can even cost that individual a finger or two.
It is important to maintain a firm grip on the handle of a retractable leash.  However, be aware that this type of handle
has a tendency to slip out of your hand much more easily than that of a regular leash.  And it is imperative to keep
a close eye on your dog; keep your finger on the stop button at all times.
If a dog’s collar breaks, the leash can retract at full speed; and the end of the line that does not go into the handle
can whip around at top speed, causing injuries to the owner’s face, eyes and/or teeth.

It is important to note that countless injuries occur where equipment malfunction is not the cause.  In these instances, it is the user him/herself who is at fault.  When people choose to use
retractable leashes in certain settings (mostly urban) and in a way (fully extended, up to 40 feet) that is unsuitable considering the amount of commotion, accidents can and do occur. 
Circumstances where retractable leashes are most likely dangerous include environments with busy streets, children, other dogs, other people, or any other obvious distraction(s).  Allowing
the same level of freedom in these areas as in an open field is a recipe for disaster.  In each of these scenarios, a regular leash affords the owner more control.  Having the ability to grab the leash
close to the dog is critical in these situations, which cannot be safely done with a retractable leash; you will hurt your hand; the question is, how seriously

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