With three dogs that I frequently walked together, I never thought I would use or like a retractable lead. I changed my mind. A Flexi lead turned out to be a great way to accommodate one arthritic dog, and later, to let our bigger dog more freedom when walked with our elderly Shih-Tzu. Now, I use a 16-foot Flexi lead all the time with Max, our very energetic terrier mix.
Practice and obedience
If you and your dogs are used to a regular leash, it takes a little practice to switch them to a retractable lead. They need practice to understand when to move over and stop for traffic and to get used to the little clicking sound when you have to rein them in temporarily. Max has learned when he can run ahead and when he can’t, so our walks are not stressful for me and very enjoyable for him.
Our lovely old neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, so I use the command “hold it!” and pull slightly to the left when I want Max to move off the street and “okay!” when he can move ahead. With my consistent behavior, he’s learned to walk safely with the Flexi lead and to mind when he needs to stay on the correct side of the street.
In the past, before our very elderly dogs passed away, I found that using a Flexi lead with just one of the three dogs in two special situations made walking much more pleasant for them and for me, when:
- one dog is much slower than the others
- one dog is much more energetic than the others
For a long time, I used a retractable lead with Cleo because she wanted to go for a walk with her companions, but was slowing down due to her arthritis. Using a Flexi lead allowed her to walk at her own pace and catch up when the others dawdled to sniff interesting spots. Sometimes, she would just keep walking slowly and the rest of us would catch up. When her arthritis and dementia worsened, I took her for short walks by herself and she was already used to the Flexi lead, so there were no problems using it with her.
I use a sturdy all-belt Flexi lead because Max is a 45-pound bundle of energy. Once in a while, he just wants to follow a scent or go make friends with another dog or a person he hasn’t met yet. With the Flexi lead, I can make sure he doesn’t get into trouble and it’s strong enough to keep from breaking if he pulls in an exciting situation.
If you do get a Flexi lead, there is one safety precaution that’s extremely important. Make sure you hold onto the smooth, shaped handle instead of the belt! (Same for the cable if you use a model that has a one.) If the dog runs off suddenly, you could get “rope burns,” a painful cut, or even a dislocation or worse by letting the belt run through your hand or wrap around bare wrist or fingers. Don’t ever do it! Fortunately, the handle is comfortable, so you won’t be tempted.
Attaching a bag holder
The only “con” with the Flexi lead handle is that it is a bit too thick for directly attaching some doggie poop bag holders. I use a Martha Stewart bag holder, and attach its tab to a standard leash hook. The hook is snapped onto a small dog collar with two round washer-like ends wrapped around the handle. It works for me…
Availability and Pricing
Prices for Flexi leads are pretty standard and they are widely available. Amazon.com has a wide selection of Flexi leads for small, medium, and large dogs. Having used both the standard Flexi leads with a leading cable cord, and one that’s “all-belt” I prefer the all-belt lead for it’s sturdiness. The belt leads are easier to straighten out if they get mixed up with another lead or a branch. No cords to untangle.
It’s walkies time at our house, so I’m going to stop writing this review and get Max outside with his Flexi lead and my Sketchers to have a good time before it gets too steamy outdoors.