Monthly Archives: June 2017

Are Retractable Dog Leashes Safe?

By Dr. Nina Beyer

Ben_Jurgens_JackrussellterriërA lot of people use retractable leashes! For years, they’ve been very popular. Speaking as a veterinarian, though, I wish they’d never been invented. Wanna know why?

First, they give your dog the wrong message. When he pulls against the leash, he is able to move further away from you. He learns that pulling on the leash is a good thing to do! Compare this to a no-pull harness or head collar; these discourage him from pulling and reward him for not pulling. He naturally stays near you.

Second, they make your dog unsafe. She can quickly dart 20-25 feet away from you (that little button is hard to use, to stop the leash from unspooling), so she could jump into the path of a car, or run up to a dog that will hurt her. If you’re in the middle of a deserted area, that much freedom is fine, but in our typical neighborhoods and parks, that much distance makes it difficult to keep your dog safe. Also, if she takes off when you’re looking the other way, the awkward handle can be jerked right out of your hand. Now, your dog is loose and is being “chased” by the plastic handle, which is gaining on her because it’s retracting…a lot of dogs in this situation panic and keep running!

Third, they make you unsafe. I hope you’ve never grabbed the cord when your dog is running; if you have, you may have sustained a burn or cut from the friction of the cord (there are actually people who’ve lost a finger that way!). If they wrap around your leg, they cause a lot more pain than a flat nylon leash would.

There is nothing safer than a sturdy 6-foot leash with the loop around your wrist and your hand gripping it firmly.

Check out the rest of our blog for more pet care information and tips, provided by the veterinary staff here at Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital.

Dog Park Etiquette

What Is Proper Dog Park Etiquette?

The idea behind dog parks is wonderful; they’re safely fenced-in places for your dog to run and play with other dogs. But sometimes the experience is not what you expected, usually because someone hasn’t used good judgment. So, let’s think about what good dog park etiquette would be.

  1. shutterstock_235637188Only take your dog to the park if she loves it. If she is worried, anxious, easily upset, or aggressive, the dog park will make her worse.
  2. When you arrive, look around at the other dogs & people BEFORE you let your dog off leash. If someone has brought their large dog into the “small dogs only” section, your little dog might not be safe, for example. Look at the body language of the other dogs, before you let your dog off-leash.
  3. Watch your dog while he’s loose; don’t get caught up talking to people you meet & ignore what your own dog is doing. If he looks afraid, or doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself, go get him & leave.
  4. Also, if your dog is bullying another dog, go get him. All of the dogs in the park should be enjoying themselves; if your dog is going after another dog who is cowering or rolling over & showing his belly, it’s up to you to get your guy leashed back up.

For most people, it’s hard to read a dog’s body language. Even if you’ve had dogs all your life, most dogs accommodate us fairly successfully, so you may never have been forced to learn to read a dog. Luckily, there are excellent online resources; check these out! You’ll love them!

  • Zoom Room’s videos:
    • Dog Body Language
    • Dog Play Gestures Body Language
  • Association of Pet Dog Trainer (APDT) videos; this is a wonderful website
  • Whole Dog Journal Dog Body Language Dictionary of Stress
  • www.dogdecoder.com (they have a $3.99 app that’s excellent!)
  • Eileenanddogs Dog Body Language Collection