Jill Kessler Miller, CPDT
When Flexi-leads first came out (in the late ‘80s), they were not for the pet market; they were designed as an aid for obedience training, for teaching the recall, retrieve, and reinforce distance work. But over time, they trickled into pet stores, and people began to use them to walk their dogs. So what’s the problem?
Simply put, lack of control. The further the dog is out ahead of you, the less leverage you have to retract and restrain. Cat, squirrel, dog, motorcycle, skateboard, jogger--a simple distraction and you’ve lost control of your dog. Sometimes because they lunge suddenly and the handle goes flying out of your hand, sometimes because there’s enough room still on the line to spin out and allow them to go after (and maybe even reach) their target, causing damage to a person or an animal. Even worse, there are many cases of the line becoming wrapped around a finger or thumb and slicing it right off. OUCH!
Coincidentally, there are many cities, Los Angeles being one of them, that actually states that a leash may be no longer than six feet in length, thus making retractable leashes illegal. Most laws also normally state that the dog must be “under control,” which with a Flexi, it probably is not. I have consulted on multiple cases where a Flexi-lead was in use and clearly was part of the dog causing damage. If you want to have a Flexi in the car for pottying your dog when traveling, I understand. If you want to use one to reinforce your stay command, recalls, etc., I understand. But they’re really not for pet walking! In fact, at dog shows, where there are hundreds of dogs in one location, you’ll not see one on the premises. Why? Because they are dangerous. If the professionals don’t use them, neither should the average dog owner. My preference? A good leather leash!!