The 10 Best Retractable Leashes

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This wiki has been updated 38 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Most of us can’t completely trust our four-legged family members to stay close at heel when we’re out for a walk, but these retractable leashes will help keep your dog safe while still providing it with the freedom to run around, sniff, and explore. In addition to letting you dictate how far Fido roams, these come in a range of styles and with a variety of useful features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Triton 1-Touch

2. QQPets QC22 Comfort

3. Happy & Polly Tangle Free

Editor's Notes

January 31, 2020:

Between pullers, stubborn sniffers who won't leave that spot, and hyper pups who react to other canines, there is a lot for a person to worry about when walking a dog. We wanted to make sure that our selection of retractable leashes addresses most of those concerns, helping you feel more in control when Fido isn't.

We know that a leash that extends and retracts smoothly while providing good tension is important to keeping your dog in check. That's why we like the Flexi Giant 210.S, with a ribbon that glides with ease, and the Pet Neat Premium, which remains taut even when fully extended. We removed the Gimilife 16ft as it gets stuck when extended and the Diil Walking, because its retraction can be unreliable.

A comfortable grip is critical when going for long walks, or if you have a dog who pulls a lot (though a good harness can help with that). So we like the Wigzi Two Dog for its gel handle, and the Valkit Dual Doggie, for its soft silicone-coated grip. We eliminated the TrustyPaw Top Quality, as its handle proved to be slippery. We also removed the the Peteat Patented, as the grip is so small that some found it hard to hold.

Durable materials are also important, so we love the quality construction of the Peteast 360, but the Upsky Training lost its spot, as its materials didn't turn out to be very durable.

Special Honors

Pet Life PetKit Go Busy pet owners can stay on schedule with this leash, since you can sync it to your smartphone and the item will vibrate when you receive texts, calls, and emails. Also using the associated app, you can set a walking timer, and the leash will vibrate to let you know when you've reached your goal stroll time. Additionally, it features LED lights that can be scheduled and adjusted via your smartphone, and the actual leash portion can stand up to one ton of pressure.

4. Wigzi Two Dog

5. PetKit RGB

6. Peteast 360

7. Flexi Giant 210.S

8. Pet Neat Premium

9. Tug Tangle-Free

10. Valkit Dual Doggie

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Invention Of The Retractable Leash

Dogs had yet to become the four-legged children as we think of them today.

The first retractable leash was invented and patented in 1908 by a woman named Mary A. Delaney. This was a time when the average dog was still either used for some form of work, such as protection or herding, or living in the streets scavenging for food.

It was also a time when city dog-catching officials were highly concerned with rabies and public health corps were labeling dogs as miscreants, stating that they were unfit as pets in urbanized areas. Dogs had yet to become the four-legged children as we think of them today. Considering all of this, it is not hard to see that this was much too early for retractable leashes to become commonplace.

It wasn't until the 1970s that the idea of a retractable leash started to gain some traction. In the mid-1970s there were two retractable leash patents issued that bear resemblance to the kind in use today.

The first was issued to Manfred Bogdahn in 1975, and the second was issued to James Otis Umphries and William Howard Brawner in 1977. The main difference between these early models and those used today was the material make-up, with the ones of the 1970s being comprised of wood instead of plastic.

Benefits Of Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes offer a number of benefits over traditional leashes. Giving a dog more freedom is one of the most often cited benefits according to dog owners. Nothing beats the smile on your dog's face as they romp around and explore the surrounding area without feeling like they are tethered to your side the entire time. Not only can it give a dog more self-confidence, it also allows them to get more exercise on their walks, without the owner having to run around, too. This makes a retractable leash more fun for the owner and the dog.

If the dog doesn't come, a slight tug and release can be performed with the retractable leash, prompting the dog to come.

If you are having trouble teaching your dog to come when called, a retractable leash can be a useful training tool. One can take their dog to secluded area and give them a few minutes to explore on their own with the leash fully extended. After a long enough period of time and after the dog has forgotten about the leash, the owner can call their dog by name or use the come command. If the dog doesn't come, a slight tug and release can be performed with the retractable leash, prompting the dog to come. Once the dog has returned to their owner's side, he or she can be given treats or lots of petting and praise as a reward. This will teach a dog to come back when called in future, even if it is off the leash.

When using the clicker method of training, the noise caused by a retractable leash's stop button can signal to a dog when they are free to roam, and when they need to stay close at hand. Many owners also prefer the feel of the plastic or rubber grip of a retractable leash in their hand over the feel of a piece of rope or leather. This large handle is also an ideal place to secure waste pick-up bags and hand sanitizer.

For those who have had the experience of walking their dog in the rain -- and let's face it, every dog owner has -- a retractable leash offers one the ability to allow their pet to do their business without having to leave a covered overhang or porch.

Using A Retractable Leash Correctly

While retractable leashes can be a great addition to a dog owner's equipment, they can also cause a lot of problems if used incorrectly. There are a few things one should keep in mind before, and while using a retractable leash.

People can also get tangled up in a retractable leash, which can lead to injury.

They should never be used with an untrained dog. If your dog does not know how to walk properly on a leash without pulling, using a retractable leash is a bad idea. This will increase their tendency to pull, making the walking experience worse for both the owner and the dog. If a dog refuses to come when called, a retractable leash should only be used as a training tool to help teach them to obey that kind of command. Once a dog reliably comes when called, then the retractable leash can become their everyday walking leash.

Retractable leashes are also not ideal for use in crowded situations. Owners often become distracted in busy areas and may not pay enough attention to their dog. If the dog is on a retractable leash, they may approach a dog that is aggressive towards other dogs, resulting in a fight. Even if they approach a friendly dog, there is a chance of the leashes getting tangled and causing one or both dogs to panic. People can also get tangled up in a retractable leash, which can lead to injury. Legs and hands getting tangled in the cord can also suffer from rope burn or be cut if the dog is moving quickly.

It is also important for one to use a retractable leash that is properly sized for their dog. Because of the extra length between the owner and the end of the cord, retractable leashes are more susceptible to breaking, especially if the dog has some momentum going before they reach the end. Make sure to buy a retractable leash that is sturdy enough to handle the strength of your dog.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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