Thursday, June 9, 2016

Do's and Don'ts Of Using A Flexi-Leash

I've been using a flexi-leash for many years.

Most of the opinions I see about flexi-leashes are negative. Three reasons for this are:

A) owners who haven't properly trained their dogs,
B) owners who use the leash at inappropriate times and places, 
C) owners who don't use proper dog walking etiquette.

The dog-walking service inspired me to think about dog-walking etiquette. The flexi-leash jumped out as a good, if controversial, topic. I've had years of experience with it and can share my "lessons learned" with you.

Why do I use a flexi-leash?
I prefer it to the 6-foot leash for daily walks in the neighborhood. It allows Toby more freedom for short sniffs since I don't have to stop walking for each and every one. He gets more options on his pace - he can plod along beside me, or trot a bit ahead. I never have to untangle his leash because of the retracting mechanism in the handle. Our walks are much more enjoyable for both of us - smoother for me and more fun for him. But - 

A flexi-leash is not for every dog, and it's not for every walk. 
The long length of this leash requires extra thought on the part of the owner if it's to be used safely for the dog, the owner, and everyone else.

Never use a flexi-leash to walk a dog who is aggressive toward people or other dogs. Never use  it if your dog is untrained to walk on a leash and in basic commands. Seriously. If this is you, you're excused now to go register for an obedience class.

If you're still reading, let's get right to the do's and don'ts of using a 12 foot flexi-leash.

When using a long leash, 

  • Pay attention! Devices and earbuds stay home.  You must watch your dog, oncoming traffic, and approaching pedestrians. Your "with-it-ness" is crucial. Focus on enjoying outdoor time with your dog - that's more fun anyway!
  • Know your dog. Is she like a missile when she sees a cat? Shorten and lock your leash when you see one so she can't get 12 feet of momentum. Toby loves to cross the street, and I know by his body language when he's about to try. Every dog has its quirks on walks. Again, the key is being alert.   
  • Choose quiet areas to walk. Bonus points for sidewalks!
  • Walk with your thumb on the locking button. It quickly becomes a habit, and it gives you the ability to stop your dog virtually instantly. 

Press down and forward with your thumb to lock.  (Can you tell I've been gardening? BOL!)
  • Lock the leash at 3 to 5 feet when others approach. Your dog might not mind other dogs, but you don't know what the approaching dog is like. Never assume that other people or dogs like your dog. 
  • Practice your dog's recall. It doesn't have to be "we don't even need a leash" perfect, but when your pooch is 12 feet away, you want him to walk back to you when you call him. Reward him with a treat when you're first getting used to the long leash. 
  • Keep your feet on the sidewalk or street. Your pup will want to explore peemail left on bushes or grass. (More about that below) You don't get to walk on other people's yards - no matter how much your dog wants to see what's on the porch. Well, except for…
  • Scoop the Poop.  Trust me, the homeowner will make an exception for this. Just because you're 12 feet away, you can't pretend she's not your dog. 
  • Toby seeks the nicest lawns for his business. Just another of his *sigh* quirks.
  • Use a harness or buckle collar. A flexi-leash exerts a mild pull to keep the leash taut. If you need a choke collar or pinch collar, your dog isn't well-trained enough to walk on a long leash.
  • Put your dog in a sit next to you if you want to chat. Unless you wanted to play Chinese Jump Rope with your neighbor. 
Toby sits at an intersection until traffic clears.

  • Walk in crowds. Use the 6 foot leash instead. Ditto for the next two:
  • Walk at night.
  • Walk where there's heavy traffic.
  • Nope. Leave it. Good boy.
  • Let your dog pee on the landscaping. This one's for owners of male dogs. Use your "leave it" command to save the neighbor's roses. Instead, allow him to mark inanimate objects like mailbox posts, fences, trash cans, fire hydrants. 
  • Walk with more than one dog. Let's do a thought experiment. What happens when two dogs are side-by-side, and one (or both) has 12 feet of leash? Well, there you go. 
  • Use a long leash for jogging. Lots of reasons for this one: you're actually paying attention to your jogging, things happen faster when you're already running, etc. 
  • Grab the leash itself. It can burn your hands. Use the lock button that your thumb is resting on to stop your dog. 
  • Unclip and retract the leash when it's fully extended. The leash clip will fly back and it hurts like crazy when it bangs your hand. Voice of experience on this one!

To recap, let's reverse the three reasons long leashes get a bad reputation. You might enjoy a flexi-leash if:

A) your dog is already trained on a leash and basic commands,
B) you're in an appropriate environment,
C) you're courteous and respectful of others with good dog walking etiquette. 

Though this post is long, I'm sure I've forgotten something about using a flexi-leash, so please feel free to join the conversation in the comments section.
 Happy Dog Walking, no matter what leash you choose!


  1. I had to laugh at another dog walker whose dogs will only pee on the finest kept grass in the neighborhood.

    1. Scientists say it's the magnetic field, but I think it's the lawn service :)

  2. I use one too and have never had a problem. You have covered this so well. You have all the do's and dont's covered perfectly. One thing I do is ALWAYS carry an ordinary lead as well. I walk long distances with my Charlie and if I am close to busy roads I always put his ordinary lead on him. If Charlie (being a whippet) sees a bird or cat he will take off at a million miles an hour but as I am always watching I have never had a problem with this. I always know by watching him when he is about to take off. He too chooses the best lawns for his toilet breaks. Matter of fact he always goes on the same lawn. The owner of the property hates dogs and is quite an unpleasant man. Of course Charlie goes there!!

    1. Charlie has a sense of humor to go on the mean man's lawn! Thanks for the nice comment and for saying you use a flexi-leash too. That's a good idea to carry a six foot leash too, especially if you have to cross through a busy area.

  3. Thank you so much for a great post about Flexi- leashes. I really hate them when used improperly by people. But do love them when used properly.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback. I know a lot of people hate them. I heard a vet on NPR denounce them. It's too bad some irresponsible owners spoil it for the rest.

  4. Great post. I think flexi leashes are a good tool when used correctly


We love to know what you have to meow, bow-wow, growl, or just plain howl. Leave a comment for us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...