I have personally witnessed through training client experiences over the last few years at least four serious accidents due to the use of retractable leashes. Broken noses to dislocated shoulders. Here at The DogSmth we just don't use them, period. In a group training class environment they are dangerous as they get tangled around the owner, the dog and any other location objects. They do not offer the pet owner full control of their dog and they are too bulky to hold. When walking dogs they are unreliable and do not ensure the dog walker has correct and safe control of the dog. The brake mechanism can fail and if a dog takes off at speed they can drag you along causing injury and leave the dog in a dangerous situation too.
We even brief our clients when doing private in-home training appointments not to rely on them to keep their dog safe. Only a few weeks ago on our DogSmith Franchise Owner Facebook group I was reminded of an occasion when a small aggressive dog on a retractable leash, outside their home, ran toward a colleague of mine. The owner looked on in horror as she realized the brake on the retractable leash had broken. All ended well, but as my colleague so eloquently put it in her comical description of events she was saved by a fast paced Irish Jig that prevented the small dog from locking onto her ankles.
In a consumer report written in May of 2009 one poor lady had her finger sliced off when her dog took off after something and the leash became wrapped around her finger. In 2007 there were more than 16,000 reported accidents due to the use of retractable leashes. Legal action against one manufacturer of this leash type lead to an updated disclaimer on the product,
“To avoid the risk of eye or face injury and cuts, burns, and amputations to your body or the body of another person from the leash cord/tape or all belt and hook, (sic) read and follow these Warnings and Directions for Use before using your Flexi leash.” For more information on the dangers of retractable leashes read more here
So in short we here at The DogSmith do not recommend them, we certainly as pet care professionals do not use them even when just out for a short walk with a clients dog.