It just so happens that I've seen examples of 3 of my top bugbears with extendable leads this week. Now for all those people out there who love their extendable leads, bear with me. I'm pretty sure my reasons for disliking them are as a valid as yours are for liking them, and you may even find yourself agreeing with me on some of them.
Now this could be aimed at pretty much any dog training tool you might use. But these can be killers in the worst case scenario, which would be a horrible thing to happen to any beloved pet dog.
When you attach your extendable lead to a head collar on your dog, you're doing so with potentially fatal consequences. If you dog rushes towards something and then is at the wrong angle when the lead reaches the end suddenly, your dog's neck could be snapped in the process - my advice would be to NEVER attach your extendable lead to your head collar. Far safer if you do want to use one, to attach it to a well-fitted harness instead. I like the ones from the lovely people at Dog Games.
2. Out of Control
I understand that some people like to use them because they don't trust their dog to come back when called if they let them off the lead. And I applaud this, I really do. There's nothing my dogs dislike more than being hassled by a dog that is miles away from it's owner, and out of their control.
However, on an extendable lead at full-stretch that same dog that won't come back when called, is a dog that is still out of control, the only difference being it's attached by a potentially lethal piece of cheese wire! Most people are pretty sensible about retracting the lead when the meet someone out walking, but you just can't grab at the extendable lead when you need to control the dog in a hurry - it would hurt too much to do so!
3. Walking By Roads
Likewise when I see dogs walked at full-stretch on an extendable lead by a main road - it gives me the shivers! Having witnessed my first collie dog Kai in a car accident, I can tell you with first-hand experience that it's a desperately sad and stressful experience.
If you do want to use an extendable lead, please only let the dog have the full length of the lead when you're in a safe place. I'd hate anyone to have to go through what I did with Kai - I was lucky he survived, albeit with only 3 legs. Others aren't so lucky :(
For every reason I've ever been given for why a dog is on an extendable lead, I have always countered with the advice that training could solve the need for one. For example the dog that pulls on the lead is not going to be any better on an extendable lead, in fact it encourages them to pull by getting more freedom the more they do so!
Or for the dog who won't come back when called, it doesn't provide good practice for letting them off the lead in the future - they are aware of the lead on too much by the tension an extendable lead requires in order to give them freedom.
I'm pleased to say that many people attend puppy classes these days, which gives dogs a good start for them to live successfully in an increasingly busy and demanding human world. But training doesn't finish there - it continues into adulthood, and I think up until a dog is about 3 years old, is in need of regular training sessions.
And it's important for us too! We don't become experts at anything unless we practice, and being a great dog owner and trainer is no exception. The good news is that is can be a whole lot of FUN in the process - just ask any of the adult dog owners I teach who only intended to do a puppy course ;)