Flexi leads are so popular in the dog owning world, and if you own one then I am hoping after reading this blog post then you’ll throw it straight in the bin. For those who are not familiar, a flexi lead consists of a plastic handle, which inside contains a retractable cord or ribbon. They are advertised to give your dog more freedom whilst still having complete control. While I agree it does give your dog more freedom than being on a regular 6ft lead, it does not give you more control of your dog.
As a dog trainer, one of my most frequent enquiries is regarding loose lead walking, and 9 times out of 10 the then client has resorted to using a flexi lead because their dog is pulling too much. The reality is that a flexi lead is quickly undoing any loose lead training that you have tried with your dog as in fact is it teaching the dog that it is okay to pull ahead. It can be very confusing for a dog to go from having a long line, to a short line and back to a long line and so on, meaning they will never be able to generalise the loose lead walking behaviour.
Walking your dog should be an enjoyable part of owning a dog, and believe me I know how frustrating it is to have a dog that’s pulling your arm out of your socket on every walk but flexi leads should not be your answer.
Walking your dog is a chance to engage and have fun, play games and get some attention from your furry friend. How much focus do you think you can get from your dog when they are 10 metres ahead of you, you guessed it, very little indeed. If already you have a dog that doesn’t listen to you whilst on the lead then you’ll probably find that it’ll be even harder to get your dog to listen to you when they are off lead in the park.
Flexi leads give you little control over your dog, your job as a dog parent is to look out for your dog and keep them safe at all times. When the lead is fully extended your dog could run into all kinds of trouble, they could dart across the road to chase something, they could tangle themselves round a tree or worst of all another dogs lead. At that distance from your dog you have very little control and in turn it is just not safe. How quickly can you react if an aggressive dog confronts your dog whilst they are 10 metres ahead of you? It’s a very unfair position to put your dog in.
Flexi leads can cause injuries to both dogs and humans. I have several clients who have had some nasty injuries from getting caught by the cord of ribbon of either their flexi lead or another dog owners. Only today I was told of a horror story regarding a flexi lead, where someone got such a bad cut from the cord that you could see bone. It just isn’t worth taking the risk.
My view as a trainer and dog owner is that flexi leads should be ditched. To give your dog a little more freedom in the park then invest in a long training line and use that when appropriate. If your dog is pulling on walks then find a positive dog trainer to help you out.