Selecting a Proper Leash for Your Dog: Or How to Avoid Clotheslining Bikers, Spare Rabbits’ Lives, and Avoid the Wrath of Mothers with Small Children


First Rule of Using a Retractable Leash: Don't

Retractable leashes. WTF? These things should be outlawed, or at the very least, sold under federal restriction only to owners of dogs that can be tucked into a Versace clutch. 

Retractable leashes are the way our brilliant, ever problem-solving species gets around leash laws. Fido pulls on his leash and it’s a pain in the ass! It ruins our walks and our rotator cuffs!  So we give him… more leash?? In most cases, certainly in any populous area, retractable leashes are a menace to society. We all know how they work; momentum equals mass times velocity.  Fido roams quasi-freely, while dragging his hopeless human along behind. Presumably the human can stop the line from extending by pushing the button, but if you have a real dog, a dog who likes to sniff and run and jump and kill small land mammals, by the time you hit that button (which doesn’t always work that well) the dog has so much momentum going that the whole kit and caboodle becomes an oncoming runaway train. 

Do you realize that bikers can’t even see that fishing-line thin cord as they come zooming down a path? I think it’s fair to say that any biker who nearly gets killed because (s)he gets tripped up in your stupid retractable leash has a right to go ape-shit, whenever and wherever it happens. And that goes double for mothers of children under the age of 4 who feel their offspring have in any way been wronged by your (no doubt harmless and loveable, but still) dog.

So dog-owning readers, repeat after me:

I will use nothing longer than a 6 foot, old-fashioned leash. I will take my dog to safe areas where he can run off-leash. And from this day further, I will not try to fool myself or my dog, into feeling he’s “off-leash” when “on-leash” because everyone gets confused, it simply doesn’t work, and I look like a moron.


I’m only 5’3” and usually holding a kid with one hand, so I prefer a 4 foot leash. I also use a martingale collar, which allows me to correct Sadie and Dub for pulling (like a traditional choke collar) without hurting them. See more about the martingale here:



Filed under Brittanys, Dog Training

3 responses to “Selecting a Proper Leash for Your Dog: Or How to Avoid Clotheslining Bikers, Spare Rabbits’ Lives, and Avoid the Wrath of Mothers with Small Children

  1. Well put! Whenever I see someone on the sidewalks of New York approaching one of the dogs I’m with, and their dog is attached to a retractable leash, I do everything I can to avoid them.

    I worked with a certain great Dane years ago. And I made the mistake of letting him stop to say hello to a bichon attached to a retractable leash. Within a few seconds, the cord got wrapped around all four of the big fellow’s lets, he freaked out, and ran into traffic, pulling the poor bichon and his elderly owner with him. It was a close call, but I was able to calm him down and extricate him from his own personal nightmare.

    Ever since then, I avoid them at all costs.


  2. Colette

    My puppy looks like a twin of the dog in the Martingale collar video. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked what his breed was… All I can tell them is that the rescue group said that his mother was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and that is father is unknown. Do you know the lineage of the dog that was shown?

    Great insights on dogs and kids by the way. My kids are grown but I think back nostalgically to when they were cute little girls. Trust me, some day you’ll look back and only remember the fun times.

    • Hi! Thanks a lot for the comment and compliment. No, I don’t know the breed of the dog in the video. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

      In return, I have to compliment you on your name – be it given or chosen. I wanted to name my second daughter Colette, but my husband wasn’t so into it. Probably b/c he never read Cheri or The Last of Cheri.

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