Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Retractable leash

A while back I had purchased a retractable leash on a shopping trip to PetsMart.  It was one of those unplanned purchases; I had intended to buy one someday, but not that particular day.  Until I got in the store and it seemed like a good idea.

I have used a retractable leash before, so I'm familiar with how they are supposed to be used and how they work.  If you've read all the bad things about them, I have to say that I do not agree.  They work great; however, there are some rules.  First, the human has to be in control of the leash.  You've got to be aware of  your surroundings.  Is there a dog nearby or humans?  Are there a lot of cars?  What about those mailboxes that the dog can wrap the leash around?  I walk with my thumb on the retract button and I try to stay focused on our surroundings.  Second, you can't just turn the dog loose at full leash.  There are those mailboxes and your legs that they tend to tangle up with the leash.  And, unless you are on a deserted trail there are too many distractions around.  Plus if the leash is fully extended and you have to retract quickly there may not be time.  That leads to another rule:  you've got to know how to control the retracting so you can "reel in" the dog quickly if needed.

Shop carefully and make sure that the brand you pick will fit comfortably in your hand.  I tried several in the store (there were boxes open as well as demo ones to try).  I liked the way that this one felt in my hand and the fact that the retract button was placed on top of the device.  The Kong brand was boxed up securely and there was no way to try it, but I didn't like the way it looked anyway and felt it would not be comfortable (they do make one that has a poop-bag dispenser which would be handy).  Another brand had the retract button in a little hole that your finger slipped through; no way that would work for me if I needed to take quick action.  Also, they do come in dog appropriate sizes and lengths.

I only use it on Sawyer when we walk by ourselves.  Most of the time I keep it fairly short as I want him to walk for exercise benefit and not do the hound-dog-nose-to-the-ground snooping routine.  If there is no one around and he wants to run ahead then I let him zoom on.  But I've learned not to give him the lead and then pass him up if he stops to snoop.  That's where he will wrap around a mailbox, fire hydrant, street sign, etc.! I also had an episode last week where I wasn't paying attention and we were charged at by two dogs.  I was trying to quickly get him close to me while telling the two dogs to get away.  Fortunately, they knew commands and their owner (who was several houses away) called them.  Thank goodness for dogs that take commands, they headed home.  A few minutes later a pick-up truck passed us with the dogs hanging out the windows, so I guess they escaped while loading up for a little ride! I suspect that they really just wanted to play and weren't going to attack.

I also advise walking with one of these no matter what kind of leash you use.  I have a nice one that is about 3 feet long that I normally use, but I picked this one up out of the yard several nights ago when I forgot the regular stick.  They come in handy for scaring off other dogs (beat it on the street for a distracting noise) and for giving your own dog a gentle nudge when they need it! Happy Walking!

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