Thursday, November 10, 2011

Say no to extender dog leashes!


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


ponch said...

AGREED! I loathe thos eleashes and all the idiots that use them!!!

Rosey said...

Those horrible leashes are an affront to the pet industry and intelligent pet owners everywhere! Too many pet owners are too stupid to underatand the folly of these contraptions, so THEY SHOULD BE BANNED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE REST OF US WHO HAVE BETTER SENSE!

Alyson said...

I was riding bikes with my 4 year old son when some jackass with her chihuahua on one of those stupid leashes took off without having engaged the lock. The piece of $hit little ankle biter scared the daylights out of my son causing him to fall off is bike. He was fine, but had he gotten hurt, it would have been a struggle to not strangle the woman AND her lousy little viscious dog with that God forsaken leash! I call for both a ban on these horrible leashes and chihuahuas!!!

Rick said...

No doubt, those leashes suck!

Marc said...

So no to Chihuauas!!!

steve said...

The problem here is the owner and the not so bright chihuaua. Train your dog properly.

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GRT said...

First of all let me say I reject your entire notion of saying no to extender leashes.
Lack of adequate exercise is a major problem for many dogs. Extender leashes allow dogs greater freedom of movement, enabling them to cover more distance on a walk than the traditional 6-7 ft. leash, I have walked my dogs daily on a 24 ft extender lease for years. with the added length they can travel 3 to 4 times more distance during a walk just by the fact the have a large radius to travel than with the traditional leash. (they can run behind you, to your left to your right and so on) It also allows the dog to get into his natural stride, many (but not all) people who walk their dogs with the traditional leash walk slowly forcing the dog in to a slow stilted stride.
As to the difficulties you mentioned, these are easy issues to deal with. It is after all a simple extender leash you are operating, not a rocket science procedure. Be aware of your surroundings and what's going on around you, look for other dogs and people approaching, the dog can easily be rained in by walking toward them and engaging the lock. (They can by the way be locked at nay length you wish to prevent some passer by from being "riddled with rope burns) In all the years I have never had and incident that could not have happened with the traditional leash. As to the never learning leash manners, that has little to do with the length of the leash, the responsibility there falls to the owner, in fact i would say that most if not all, of the difficulties you sited are examples of irresponsible owners not a extender leash vs traditional leash issue. I see the traditional leash as a trip to the vet, or store, or crowded conditons, leash. As for walking the extender leash is the next best thing to off leash for allowing a dog to explore and enjoy his surrounding while walking.