The Best Retractable Dog Leash for Comfortable Walking

With a versatile retractable dog leash, you can let your dog roam over a wide area on a walk through the park, or retract the leash for close walking on a busy sidewalk.

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The Best Retractable Dog Leash Option

Photo: istockphoto.com

Taking the dog out on a walk is a great way to get your pet out of the dog crate and you up and off the couch. To ensure your furry friend can truly tire itself out, it may be a good idea to take your dog to a park or a field to run. However, strict leash laws can prevent you and your pup from having off-leash fun by demanding you and your pal remain tethered at all times.

With a retractable leash, you’ll have the power to keep your pup close or give it some slack, depending on whether you’re going on a long walk downtown or taking a more scenic route. The best retractable dog leash for you and your dog will depend on the size and weight of the dog as well as the material of the leash and handle. The top products listed below emphasize comfort, security, and safety to help ensure that you and your pet can have a fun, worry-free walk in the park.

  1. BEST OVERALL: TUG 360° Tangle-Free Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ruff ‘N Ruffus Tangle-Free 16-Foot Retractable Leash
  3. BEST EXTRA-LONG: Flexi Giant Tape Leash
  4. BEST HANDS-FREE: SparklyPets Hands-Free Dog Leash Professional Harness
  5. BEST WITH FLASHLIGHT: Happy & Polly Dog Leash 16.4 ft with Flashlight
The Best Retractable Dog Leash Option

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Retractable Dog Leash 

When shopping for a new retractable dog leash, it’s important to understand the factors that should be considered to find the best product for the size, weight, and walking temperament of the dog. If these factors aren’t taken into consideration, there’s a good chance the leash will be too weak or overly bulky. This can also impact the safety of the walk, as a larger dog could break a weak leash and take off toward other dogs, people, or into the road. To ensure the safety of your pets, keep the following key considerations in mind while shopping.

Material

Retractable dog leashes are designed to wind up tightly inside the case when the leash is fully retracted and also easily pull from the case to extend, in some cases, over 20 feet. It’s important to find a leash that’s made of a flexible, strong, and durable material to help reduce tangles and ensure the lead has the strength and durability to prevent the dog from breaking it.

Common materials used to make retractable leashes include heavy-duty nylon, thick polyester, and woven cotton. Despite its lightweight appearance, nylon is a strong material resistant to tearing, breaking, and fraying. Polyester isn’t quite as strong as nylon, though it is more resistant to changes in temperature, making it a good choice for very hot or very cold days. Woven cotton isn’t very strong and should only be used for tethering little dogs that weigh less than 10 pounds.

Length

The length of the retractable leash can vary significantly depending on the product. Short retractable leashes may only extend about 10 feet, while extra-long leashes can exceed 20 feet in length. Keep in mind, there’s no point in investing in a 25-foot leash if the dog will only ever be allowed to go 10 or 15 feet. Instead, you can save some money by choosing a leash with an appropriate length.

City living can come with many constraints on dog houses, dog ownership, and dog walking, so it’s a good idea to check local leash laws to find a leash that doesn’t extend beyond the maximum leash length requirements. If you’d still like to purchase a longer leash, for camping or hiking, consider purchasing a retractable leash with a built-in locking mechanism; this will keep the leash at a specific length to either keep the dog close or allow it to free roam.

Handle Comfort and Grip

Consider the length of an average walk, the size and weight of the dog, and the dog’s tendency to pull before choosing a handle and grip. This part of the leash has the potential to make a walk more comfortable and enjoyable, or it can bite into your hand or lock up with exposure to rain or snow. Look for ABS plastic handles that are strong, flexible, and durable. These products are often ergonomically shaped to make it easier to hold the leash and control the dog.

Rubberized grips provide a soft and forgiving material to hold and won’t become slippery with sweat, rain, or snow. Active individuals who like to jog or run with their dogs may prefer a hands-free solution that can be strapped around the waist of the owner and then connected to the collar or harness of the dog to ensure the dog remains secured at the desired distance.

Multi-Dog Lead

Walking multiple dogs at a time may seem challenging for some, but a multi-dog lead can help make this process a little less daunting, provided the dogs being tethered to the leash are leash trained.

Smaller dogs are easier to manage on a multi-dog lead because there’s less weight to control with the single leash handle. As the size of the dog increases, it becomes less advisable to use a multi-dog lead with a retractable dog leash, as the combined strength of more than one large dog may break the leash or pull the owner, causing potential injury. For dogs that are just learning, having a second dog that’s fully trained can help to create positive walking behaviors, but tethering two unmanageable pups is a terrible plan.

Dog’s Weight and Temperament 

Dogs can range in size from tiny teacup poodles and chihuahuas to Great Danes and English mastiffs, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the size and weight of the dog need to be taken into consideration while choosing a retractable leash. The temperament of the dog should also be noted. A dog that pulls shouldn’t be tethered to a weak or flimsy leash that will break under the added strain.

Don’t guess at the dog’s size or weight. If you aren’t sure how much your pet weighs, then place it on a floor scale. If the dog is a bit too big, just step on the scale yourself, and record the weight. Next, pick up the dog, step on the scale, record the new weight, and find the difference, which should equal the weight of the dog. Using this information, find an adequate harness, collar, and retractable dog leash that will be able to withstand the dog’s strength without digging into its neck, shoulders, legs, or chest.

Additional Features

When deciding on a retractable dog leash there are several features that can make walks easier, safer, and more fun, including reflective components, a locking feature, and a waste bag storage area.

  • Reflective components are typically placed on the handle and down the length of the leash so the dog and the dog walker can be seen in poor lighting conditions. This simple addition makes nighttime walks much safer.
  • Locking retractable leashes give the dog walker better control over the dog. Retract the leash and lock it in place for walking across the road or down a busy sidewalk, then release the lock to allow the dog to roam free after reaching the park, beach, or field.
  • Waste bag storage usually takes the form of a simple hook at the base of the handle where full bags can hang until reaching an appropriate place to dispose of them. Some retractable dog leashes may also have a new bag storage container that can be attached to the leash so you’re never without a fresh bag when your pup has to go.

Our Top Picks

Keeping these key features and shopping tips in mind, take a look at the list below. These top products were selected for their strength, durability, versatility, and overall value to help find the best retractable dog leash for a pet-friendly home.

Best Overall

The Best Retractable Dog Leash Options: TUG 360° Tangle-Free Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash
Photo: amazon.com

Enjoy a walk, jog, run, or swim while having a dog right next to you, safely secured to this 16-foot-long retractable dog leash. The dog can roam in any direction without tangling the leash due to the tangle-free retraction opening. The heavy-duty internal mechanisms, made of impact-resistant nylon plastic and fiberglass, boast a stainless steel coil spring for consistent retraction.

The leash’s chrome-plated clasp is rust-proof so rain, snow, or swimming won’t weaken the lead. The small-size leash is suitable for dogs under 35 pounds, and the medium-size leash extends to dogs up to 55 pounds. To attain the durability and strength needed for dogs over 55 (but under 110 pounds), it’s best to invest in the large-size leash. The woven nylon tape and strong ABS casing keeps the dog safe and under control so walks can be enjoyable instead of stressful.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Retractable Dog Leash Options: Ruff 'N Ruffus Tangle-Free 16-Foot Retractable Leash
Photo: amazon.com

Heading out with the dog should be fun and carefree, and with this Ruff ‘N Ruffus value pack, it can be. The retractable leash features a durable ABS plastic case to hold the leash and has a simple locking button that can be pushed down to temporarily pause the leash or locked to ensure the dog doesn’t pull it out any farther than necessary. The 16-foot nylon leash also extends out from a tangle-free retraction opening to give more freedom to range far to the left or to the right.

The value pack also has a foldable water dish, a plastic waste bag dispenser, and an LED charm that can be attached to the collar, making sure the dog is easy to see in the evening and at night. It has a rubberized, ergonomic anti-slip handle with a comfortable grip to help owners stay in control of the walk even in poor weather conditions.This leash has been designed for dogs that weigh up to 110 pounds.

Best Extra-Long

The Best Retractable Dog Leash Options: Flexi Giant Tape Leash
Photo: amazon.com

This retractable dog leash has an impressive maximum length of 26 feet, which makes it ideal for recall training in an open field or just giving the dog a lot of space to run on the beach. The tape leash is made of robust nylon that is strong enough for dogs that weigh up to 110 pounds. This portion of the leash displays a high-visibility neon yellow color to help keep dogs safe in dim lighting conditions.

Even with a very long leash, handle comfort is still a primary concern; here, it is effectively met with the soft, ergonomic shape of the handle and the easy to use lock button for shortening the lead when necessary. The chrome-plated clasp is resistant to rusting, so dog walkers won’t have to restrict their dogs to dry terrain if the pups would rather bounce through shallow water or go for a swim.

Best Hands-Free

The Best Retractable Dog Leash Options: SparklyPets Hands-Free Dog Leash Professional Harness
Photo: amazon.com

Hands-free dog leashes are ideal for walk training, jogging, running, hiking, and climbing. With the SparklyPets Hands-Free, the leash is secured around the waist, which frees up the hands to pump during a run, stabilize on an unsteady hike, or climb up a manageable incline. This leash allows the natural movement and direction of the dog walker to control and redirect the dog without straining the hands. Adjust the waistband of the leash from the smallest size at 28 inches to the largest size at 47 inches.

The leash is appropriate for medium dogs and large dogs with an approximate weight range of 12 to 100 pounds. An elastic bungee cord in the leash stretches to absorb lurching pulls and changes in direction so less stress is put on the walker and the dog. The waistband can be removed from the leash to take the dog out for a regular walk with a 5.6-foot leash length that’s ideal for keeping the dog close on crowded city streets.

Best with Flashlight

The Best Retractable Dog Leash Options: Happy & Polly Dog Leash 16.4 ft with Flashlight
Photo: amazon.com

Walking at night when most of the world has gone to sleep is incredibly peaceful, but strange noises, dimly lit streets, and dark parks can cause an uneasy feeling, bringing a premature end to the walk. Dispel the threat of shifting shadows and strange night sounds with the detachable aluminum alloy flashlight included with this 16.4-foot retractable dog leash. The flashlight can be used on top of the leash case or held in a free hand to illuminate uneven paths or search for the keys to open the door.

This nylon leash, designed for medium and large dogs that weigh less than 100 pounds, features a flexible bungee cord at the end of the leash to help absorb the impact on the arm and back when the dog takes off suddenly. Fishing line is woven into the leash for added durability. For added convenience, it also has a hook at the bottom of the case where waste bags, keychains, and other items can be hung, allowing the walker’s attention to always be on their dog.

FAQs About Retractable Dog Leashes 

Retractable dog leashes are designed to augment a dog’s freedom during the walk, allowing owners to have a short leash while strolling down the sidewalk or a long leash for the dog to enjoy a run at the park. Take a look below to find the answers to common questions dog owners have.

Q. Are retractable dog leashes safe? 

Like any other equipment used to train and care for a dog, retractable leashes must be used properly, with common sense, vigilance, and responsibility. If the leash is used in the proper way and prevents the dog from running out into the road, bolting toward a strange dog, or leaping up at passing strangers, it can be considered safe.

However, when dog owners allow their furry friends to roam unencumbered at the end of a retractable leash, it can be very difficult to quickly and effectively gain control of the pet in an emergency situation. For this reason, retractable leashes are best suited for walking through parks, fields, and other wide, open areas.

Q. Can you use a retractable leash with a harness? 

Yes, you can use a retractable dog leash with a harness, though it’s only recommended if the harness has the clip on top of the dog’s shoulder area instead of at the front. This is because a front clip is designed to remove the momentum of a pulling dog by redirecting the force of the pull to one side or the other. With a standard leash, not pulling is rewarded with a slack leash that allows the dog to move freely, but a retractable leash applies constant tension to the clip, forcing the dog into an uncomfortable walking posture.

Q. How do I stop my dog from pulling when walking? 

This can be difficult to achieve with a retractable dog leash because these walking tools are better designed for free roaming fun in a park or a field. However, with a standard dog leash, a basic training method can be used to prevent pulling.

When the puppy or dog begins to pull, simply refuse to move forward until the tension on the leash has relaxed. At first this will be infuriating, and it will seem as though the dog is actually getting worse. However, a little bit of frustration and a feeling-out process is a completely natural reaction to a new circumstance as the dog learns about the new boundaries on its behavior.

As long as the training is diligently followed during every walk and with every member of the household, then most dogs will learn how to stop pulling, allowing you to enjoy a calm, relaxed walk. Slips in training, like allowing a dog to pull during a walk because you are too tired to keep up with the corrections, will result in slower training overall and can actually serve to confuse the dog on future walks. Patience with pets will always pay off much more than frustration, anger, and punishment.