Every time I see someone using a flexi(retractable) leash inappropriately, I cringe. And unfortunately, that's most of the time. While under the right circumstances they can be great, most of the time they are just an accident waiting to happen. Here are my top reasons why flexi leads are not a good idea:
1. Lack of control- This is the biggest problem. When your dog has that much room to get away from you, bad things can happen. They can dart into the street or after another dog before you can do anything. They can also get tangled around people and objects. We met a very friendly young dog on a flexi lead while walking our pack on a public trail one day. Even though the dog (which was 3x bigger than ours, even as a pup) just wanted to play, the owner had no control. The leash got wrapped around me, my dog, and his leash. If I had not quickly picked up my dog, he would have been injured. The owner, sadly, was completely oblivious to what was happening. She continued on with the flexi leash fully unlocked letting her dog jump on everyone and everything it got near.
2. Lack of togetherness- Going for a walk with your dog should be an interactive, bonding experience. If your dog is 20 feet away from you, that's not happening.
3. Lack of safety- This goes back to #1. If your dog is either aggressive towards other dogs or people, or you approach another dog who is, this can be disastrous. Most of the locking mechanisms on these leashes are very weak, so even if you have it locked, a powerful, motivated dog can easily break it and take off. Even in my own neighborhood, we have this problem. We have a couple of large dogs who are aggressive towards other dogs. And both are walked on flexi leads. If one of those dogs spots another dog before the person walking them, they can charge the dog and possibly break the leash, or get to them in the length of the line. At best the other person has to walk way out in the street to avoid confrontation.
4. Not everyone likes dogs- Just because your dog is really friendly, doesn't mean everyone wants to be his friend. Being a responsible pet parent includes being courteous to others, even if they don't like dogs. Many people think that because their dog loves everyone, they should be able to let them approach everyone. Some people and other animals are terrified of strange(or any) dog. Some might be wearing expensive clothing and not want it to smell or get dirty. Some have serious allergies. Just as it's a very bad idea to pet a strange dog without asking permission, it's equally bad to let your dog to run up to strange people or animals who may not appreciate it.