Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflections on Retractable Leads

Keep your dogs close for safety's sake

While "A Fish Called Wanda" has some great acting and very funny moments, the story subplot where the crook is trying to knock off the elderly witness but, instead, kills her three little dogs has always bothered me.  The appearance of the flexi-lead trumpets the advent of what you know is going to be the death of the final dog.  Yes, I know the dogs were not actually hurt, and I know it's just a movie.   I know it was all played out for comedic plot advancement, but that flexi-lead sound as she distractedly walks away has stuck in my head.  It isn't funny.

The truth is that when our dogs are too far from our side, and whenever we are distracted by something else, our dogs are at risk.

Nothing bad happens most of the time, so it is easy to poo-poo advice to the contrary, but it only takes one time to have a tragic, irreversible event happen.  We end up heartbroken, but the dog is the one who has paid the price.  

I use a flexi-lead for potty time, in my securely fenced back yard.  Period.  They never go out the front door.  Ever.  Yes, the dogs like them because they can move about more naturally as they do their business, but they do not comprehend the risks.  There are amazingly dangerous things that can happen if a squirrel jumps on the fence line, or a dog three yards over starts to bark, so I have to pay 100% attention and have my finger on the stop button - which is not always reliable.

Please, think about the real potential dangers before you clip on a flexi lead.

Consider using a good, secure harness and a sturdy five-foot lead whenever you are out and about with your Cairn.  Leave your cell phone in your pocket, and focus on your dog.  Walking with the best equipment, i.e., the most secure lead and harness, is a Great opportunity to do some relationship building with your Cairn, and it is your best bet to ensure that you and your dog will arrive home safely and in a happy mood.

This is played for laughs, but offers some important lessons

Here is an actual near-death accident caused by a flexi-lead and a distracted owner:

Before you get a Retractable Leash 
Cross posted from Columbia Animal Hospital October, 2013

Last week, one of our good clients found out first hand the danger of retractable leashes. She called about her little dog being attacked while on a walk. We made the appointment and found that except for some bruises and painful areas, her dog would be fine. The injury to our client was worse. You see, she had her dog on a retractable leash and when the attack happened, her dog was too far away from her to "reel" him in fast enough and she instinctively grabbed the cord with her hand. The rope quite effectively "sawed" through her finger, nearly down to the tendons.

We understand that retractable leashes are popular because "the pets love it" but for the most control and safety of our patients & clients we recommend a regular 6 foot nylon or leather leash. You will have more control because your pet is closer to you and if you have to grab the leash you will not have this kind of injury. Also, if necessary, you can put the loop of the leash on your wrist and have 2 hands free to assist you or your pet.

If you have a retractable leash for your pet, please reconsider when there is even the smallest chance that your pet may encounter danger and you need both hands available for rescue.

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