I had an incident this morning that caused me to have to push the other topic I was planning to discuss today and write about it instead. I was driving Riggins and Dragon to the Silver Lake reservoir to walk around it and spend some time in the dog park. On a major street heading that way I eyed trouble about to happen on the sidewalk. A woman (I’m horrible at ages but let’s say mid 50 ish) was walking her two small dogs with a skateboarder coming straight toward her. This teenage jackass proceeded to skate almost in between the woman and her dogs sending both her dogs into a tizzy. That caused the skateboarder to become off-balance adding to the chaos. One dog, freaked out by both the skateboard and the skateboarder almost falling on him, ran for his life. Ran for his life right into the street which he was able to do because he was on a retractable leash and had the freedom to do so. To stop from hitting the dog I had to come to a very sudden stop sending poor Dragon, who was not in a seat belt (get your dog a seat belt), slamming against the back of my chair. I stayed there for a good couple of beats before the dog walker managed to get over the shock of her near collision with the asshole skateboarder to even realize her dog was almost under my car.
Let’s pause for a second to think selfishly about me. Do you realize how traumatized I would be if I hit a dog with my car? It would be the end of my fragile mental state as we know it.
There was more than one person that caused this almost disaster. First of all the skateboarder. Dude, what are you thinking? EVERYONE knows that dogs don’t like skateboards and usually anything with wheels. Don’t act dumb. Sure you may think it is the dog owners responsibility to train his/her dog not to overreact to you zipping by but 90% of us (including me) haven’t taken the time to do this. So what are you thinking? You vs. dog (any dog) you lose, so stop being so dense. The youngins in my hood have had the snot scared out of them enough that they now pop up and off their board carrying it as they pass Riggins. Smart kids.
Now for the dog walker. I use to be nice, skating around the issue of retractable leashes. I didn’t like them but if you wanted to use it so be it. I’m done with those niceties. DON’T USE A RETRACTABLE DOG LEASH. There was an article recently on one of the dog blogs (if I wasn’t so lazy I’d look it up for you) talking about the rules of using a retractable dog leash so that it is safe. This woman was going against two of these rules (as I remember them):
- She was walking more than one dog at a time. Retractable leashes shouldn’t be used but they REALLY shouldn’t be used if you taking more than one dog on a walk. It’s too hard to control the leash when you are dealing with multiple dogs. Not to mention it adds a level of danger to the safety of the dogs and you as they get tangled up together.
- She wasn’t aware of her “leash circle.” When using a retractable leash you need to be constantly aware of the area ALL AROUND you where the dog can go. This is true of a non-retractable lead as well but at least it doesn’t have the choice of getting larger.
Now with all that said I’m still standing firm by my earlier exclamation. Don’t use retractable dog leashes.
When I first got Riggins I knew little about dog training and dog ownership. I quickly started reading and watching how-to videos/books. Every single dog specialist said to get a non-retractable lead and a majority even call for leather. When I’m doing something new I tend to look to those who are better than me for advice. Seems sane right? If they are better than me they must be doing something right so why don’t I take advantage of that knowledge. Pre-research I was planning on getting a retractable leash (gasp). It just seemed more convenient. Some of you are shaking your head thinking how big Riggins is and some pro-retractables will say big dogs shouldn’t have them just the tiny ones. Let me remind you as a puppy Riggins was tiny. Super tiny. I felt like his lead dwarfed him and was even questioning my decision at that point. Once we went to puppy classes and anyone with a retractable leash had to go buy a lead that very second, I knew I had made the right decision. The trainer wouldn’t even allow retractable leashes in his class. That was good enough for me.
Now I know if you use a retractable leash you are going to say you can handle it and that you are fully aware of your surroundings. I can guarantee the dog walker I saw this morning would have said the same thing. That was until some moron came careening at her on a skateboard. What I’m saying is that you can’t predict what is going to happen so I’m not buying this pro-retractable argument.
You are going to say that you are an expert at “locking” the leash and pulling it back. I will say that I’m good at texting and driving. It doesn’t make it safe. Not buying that point either.
You are going to say that you have a small dog and have total control of him/her while on a walk. Again I’m sure the woman I saw this morning would say the same thing. Her dog almost got squashed.
In fact in that pro-retractable article I mentioned earlier (okay I’ll try to find it for you) I read a number of the reader comments and I didn’t buy a single one of the retractable arguments. Those folks are putting a lot of faith in the outside world, a heaping of luck, and on their own mental sharpness. I don’t know about you but my mind wonders while I’m walking the dogs. I’m not on 24/7 alert for that entire hour to two-hour jaunt. I can admit that why can’t they?
I’m not being nice about it any more. Trash the retractable. Head to your local pet store, or online store, and buy yourself a non-retractable lead. It can be skinny if your dog is small. It can be huge and fat if your dog is big. I don’t care the size of your dog, what kind of retractable expert you are, how trained your dog is … TRASH THE RETRACTABLE.