Spaniel with Flexi-Lead

Flexi-leads have been used by dog owners far and wide for many years. When they first came into the pet market they were seen as revolutionary and ideal for giving a dog that cannot be trusted off of the lead a bit more freedom. However these days they are not such a common sight and I thought I would take a look into why.

There may be a few reasons why the use of the flexi- lead has declined over recent years. Having researched the opinions of the pet community there are many who consider them not to be as safe as normal leads for varying reasons. One of the most heavily discussed issues is the concern about relying on the locking mechanism and its potential to fail. If a dog was to suddenly be startled or see a small animal and bolt, then applying the lock to stop your dog is not 100% fool proof. This lack of control is especially dangerous near busy streets with traffic where potential accidents can occur.

Another issue is that flexi- leads work on consistently being tort which means there is constant tension to the dog’s collar and thus, its neck. Not only does this present the problem of a possible strain but it can make a dog feel restricted and therefore keep them on edge or over alert. Flexi-leads can encourage dogs to pull due to the slight pressure that is constantly exerted, meaning that the dog has to pull a little to go where he or she wants. Owners may also absent-mindedly release the lock while the dog is pulling, which is effectively rewarding the dog for pulling, and so reinforcing this bad habit.

Should a dog break free from your grip then being attached to a flexi-lead can be quite a hazard to both your dog and others in their vicinity. Many people comment that the handle of the flexi-lead is quite heavy and if your dog is running loose with that following it then it can wrap around someone and possibly give them a rope burn or cause them to trip. In addition, if your dog makes an abrupt movement and you suddenly use the breaking mechanism, then your dog can sustain a serious injury.

So what are the alternatives to a flexi-lead? In terms of leads there are a range of normal-style leads that come in different lengths to allow your dog to go further from you whilst keeping full control at all times. With a young dog a training lead can also be a useful alternative, these are strong leads with a series of rings and clips that mean they can be used at several fixed lengths.

Harnesses are becoming more popular to use in conjunction with both a standard lead and a flexi-lead as they distribute force equally beneath a dog’s chest, rather than solely on the neck. Another alternative is to use a standard lead in built up areas and near roads and swap to using a flexi-lead when in parks and green areas.

As with all things dog-related, what type of control you belief to be the best is entirely subjective as it is your dog, your opinion and your own experiences that will shape what you use. We would love to hear your views on what you think is the best type of restraint and why. Let us know using the comments box below.