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Essentials on How to Use a Retractable Dog Lead

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

There are various opinions on retractable leads, but it is generally regarded as safe when used with common sense. However, it is crucial to exercise caution to prevent any unforeseen events.

Retractable leads are often recommended for dogs that are already trained to walk with a traditional lead, but this does not guarantee that user error will not occur.

What to do first after you bought your Retractable Dog Lead?

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You've just purchased the lead, but before using, it is crucial to examine its mechanism. Pull out the tape, lock and unlock it, and check the required pressure needed to unlock it.

Often people mistakenly assume that the lead unlocks by itself, but it is usually a result of applying pressure to the top.

For example hitting your own leg when pulling the dog to heel, or you cross over hands when checking your watch. If this happens, do not panic, as the break mechanism is still working, instead press the pause button swing your arm backward to pull the dog back as needed to close the range, then lock it back again.

Some useful Tips to stay in Control

When walking near a main road or in situations where your dog needs to be kept close, the lead should be locked and kept short. You can adjust it to be just over a meter long and hold the tape gently in the other hand, just like you would with a traditional lead.

This is perhaps the only situation when you can safely touch the tape. Grabbing a tape when it is on free could cause burning injuries.

On the other hand, when you are in a safe area like a park, you can let the lead free, and it will retract between you and your dog, keeping the tape over the ground.

When the tape is on long, you should not lock it at all, as both you and your dog are moving at different speeds and directions, resulting in the tape touching the ground and collecting dirt.

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Take a good care the lead

A wet and dirty tape may come into contact with the steel coil parts inside the ABS shell. If the tape gets wet while walking in the rain, it is advised to be pulled out fully and lock it to let it dry overnight.

Using it together with a collar is not recommended. On collars your dog is capable to get close contact with other perhaps sharp objects, twisting the tape around a bench, a tree, or a trash bin. These frictions can lead to damage the tape even in the short term.

Use it together with a harness

Instead, use a harness with the clip attached to the back of the dog where he is unable to bite nor create frictions against other objects. The nylon tape is a strong synthetic textile material, but it can wear out when continuous friction is applied. A harness is proven to be more comfortable for a dog, however keeping an eye on your dog is still required.

Extendable lead a good compromise

If your dog likes to eat anything, letting them off the lead is probably not a good idea. A retractable lead, can be your dog's best friend to keep them fit. Your dog can do lots of zig-zags and explore, whilst you barely move. At the same time you can intervene when your dog discovers some snack in the grass.

Be cautious and aware potential situations

When close to other dogs, it is advisable to keep the lead short. The lead can get tangled up with the dog lead of the other dog. In the case the dogs are large it can lead to potentially dangerous situations.

Pause button is a good friend

TDOG leads have relatively larger handles to ensure that you can grab them with all your hands, not just holding on with your fingers. It is also crucial to be cautious when the lead is almost fully engaged, and your dog gets excited and tries to break out.

In that moment, the pulling force and the increased distance of the lead makes a pull a lot harder to handle. You need to be prepared for that incoming force and grab the handle tightly. It could be causing injury to your dog sometimes.

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Actively use the pause button. Keep up with your dog, swing your arm forward in free position then press and hold it whilst pulling it backwards, quick release and retraction will shorten the distance.

360 degree tangle free retraction

Some leads claim to be 360-degree retraction leads. To test this, hold the lead out in one hand and pull the tape out behind yourself. The retraction should still be working, but in reality, you aren't looking at your dog. To achieve clear retraction for a long time, the lead should point towards your dog.

When the lead is almost fully extended, and your dog becomes excited and tries to break out, be prepared for the incoming force and grab the handle firmly. Some leads claim to be 360-degree retraction leads, but in reality, you may not be looking at your dog. To achieve long-term clear retraction, point the lead towards your dog.


In conclusion, retractable leads are a useful tool for walking your dog, but it is important to use them safely and exercise caution at all times. By following these tips and tricks, you can help keep yourself and your furry friend safe on your walks.

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