Thursday, 17 February 2011

Extending Leads Can Kill.

Today I was driving one of my daughters to piano, when I spotted a lady walking a Jack Russell down the road.
I know the dog from walks in the local park, and he's not known for his obedience, so I knew he'd be on a lead so close to the road..But here he was trotting along about 10 ft in front of his owner.
I could see the answer to my question in his owners hand; she was holding the handle of an extending flexi-lead. I wasn't going fast but I slowed down further and it was just as well I did. His attention shifted from a nearby tree trunk, to something on the other side of the road and he lunged across in front of our car. I had been slowing down anyway, so I managed quite an impressive emergency stop. The kids were not impressed by my driving.
I caught sight of a cat as it disappeared over someone's front wall while the owner reeled her furious pet in off the road.
The little dog was oblivious to the lucky escape he'd had. He was still yapping furiously in the direction of his intended pray but his owner was visibly shaken. I asked if she was okay and she nodded as she grimly shortened the lead to a  length where her dog was kept firmly at her side. And off they went around the corner, probably heading off to the park.

Different leads suit different dogs and owners but I've never got on with extending leads. I find them awkward  and heavy to hold and I've had some nasty burns from the retracting string. When on pavements, near roads or in crowds, they should only be used on the shortest setting. As in the lady above found out, a dog that is walking 10 ft in front of you can suddenly be 10 ft beside you, and in doing so may end up in the middle of the road. And the chances of traffic being able to stop as effectively as I did, is pretty low. Usually *I* couldn't stop like that,but knowing what I know about these leads means I do tend to pass dogs on one slowly if I see them in time. I couldn't tell you how many dogs I've seen killed or injured while being walked on these leads; probably about the same number of humans who have been injured ( if less severely) by them.

I suppose they have their place in a park or less populated area but I'd always advise dogs owners to buy a good quality training lead instead. These are strong leads with a series of rings and clips that mean they can be used at several fixed lengths. They are also useful for walking 2 dogs at once and you can clip one end safely and easily around a post if required.
And when your dogs are off lead you can sling the lead around your waist or over your shoulder, something else you can't do with a flexi-lead.

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