Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Hi, I feel like flexi-leads are frowned upon in general, but I think I want one!!
My working cocker spaniel is 14 months and although she stays close most of the time, her recall goes out of the window if she spots a bird. She always comes back within minutes but I hate it when she does it.
I’m thinking of getting an 8m flexi-lead to use when we’re at the beach/in the fields, just for those times I’d usually let her off. I will continue with a normal lead on our training type walks or around the streets.
I’ve tried a ridiculously long training lead but can’t get on with them.
Is a flexi lead in these circumstances a terrible idea? If not can anyone recommend one?
I'm personally not keen on them because of lack of control and risk of injury with them. But if you do use one just make sure you attach it to a harness instead of a collar to avoid neck injuries.
I think they are really dangerous and wouldn’t use one.
I cringe when I see a dog wearing one. Especially by the roadside. Can you take a short lead for the more 'risky' part of your walks than swap to extendable when it's safe?
I use one with my Jack Russell. It's attached to a harness and I keep it short when pavement walking. It allows her to have a bit of freedom and I can control it easily, for example, where there are livestock or near water (she jumps in and won't come out if off the lead). I don't think it would work as well with a larger dog.
I use one with my miniature poodle, got it from Pets at Home. It's attached to his harness, not sure how they're meant to injure themselves on it?
I just lock it short when we're pavement walking.
We were shown photos of injuries sustained by them at dog training (dog and owner) and it put me right off them.
Might be better to do loads of recall training on the long line. Get some high value treats (cheese and cocktail sausages are good) or a favourite ball/toy that you only use for this purpose and keep calling her back until she’s fully reliable, I use a gun dog whistle for my dogs which works well but it takes a lot of practice to get reliable recall from a distraction.
What kind of injuries? Caused how?
Depends on the size of the dog and whether they tend to dart off at full speed.
If you have a dog that just likes to mooch around and sniff then they are fine.
If she darts off at full speed then it will cause injury when she suddenly gets yanked back.
@Greywind1523 @thisstooshallpass @Borderstotheleftofme
There were quite a lot of photos of human arms and legs that appeared to have been burnt/cut/severed by the leads where the owner/other had ended up in the way.
A couple of cases where the mechanism had failed when the dog had set off at speed, one resulting in the dog ending up run over and killed and another a lorry driver ended up swerving to avoid dog, causing a multi vehicle pile up (obviously there weren’t photos of this).
I think you need to be sure that the dog won’t suddenly set off and yank hard enough to break the lead, as well as making sure the lead doesn’t end up wrapped around anybody in the vicinity. Possibly easy enough with a small dog but I cringe when I see people walking big strong dogs on them.
@Greywind1523 mine is a working cocker so fairly small but quite strong. I would only use one in places I’d be happy to let her off lead, so nowhere near roads.
It does all sound a bit scary though. Because as I say she’s quite strong, and she’s fast. I’ll maybe give it a miss and reconsider trying again with the long line.
Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned on here, is if the dog is walking nicely and suddenly takes off it’s easy to accidentally let the lead go (done it myself when I looked after DBs dog) and some dogs then panic and run and MIL did it once, only MIL quickly grabbed hold of the lead and cut her hand.
I have a flexi lead for when I take mine to places where he can have a sniff about but can’t go offlead like NT places , cliffs ( I don’t trust him he’s thick) , near water and in woods ( he kills wildlife) . I attach it to his harness and we’ve used it now for 9 yrs , fairly regularly without any injury to the dog or myself . They are ideal if they are used correctly .
Exactly @floralnomad, that's how I use mine. If used sensibly with a small dog I think they're fine. I wouldn't use one with a large dog and a working cocker might be borderline.
I always use one but you do need to be careful at first until you get used to it and nifty at clicking the stop button on and off when you need to. If you lock the lead in order to get your dog back nearer to you, I find it best to pull them back a little way with the handle - never touch the tape, and lead naturally rolls back into handle, then snap on stop again before pulling dog back again , etc in stages as it is more comfortable for the dog and you retain control should they suddenly run/move off again. If my dog does suddenly run (after a squirrel, for instance), I call out you are ON THE LEAD, BE CAREFUL and it then checks her sufficiently so she slows down and doesn't hurt herself. (She is quite smart). I also keep an eye on our surroundings/who is approaching, etc so that I have lots of time to reel her in if necessary. (You will see if you try). I favour the tape rather than the cord as you are less likely to hurt dog or yourself with the tape (also my previous dog bit through cords flexis when being walked by non-doggy people, whom she did not have respect for! - She got through 3 when I was on holiday and a friend dogsat , having assured me she was used to dogs - clearly not, according to other dogowners in the park when I returned).
PS after seeing other comments about size of dog suitable for flexis - my previous dog was a LARGE retriever/collie-type mix and very strong and current dog is a staffie - neither were a problem, once I'd learned how to use the lead mechanism with ease.
I would only use one in a place where I would otherwise use a long line but would never trust the lock on a short lead so would never use it for walking on the pavement/through a car park. And, as others have said, on a harness, not a collar.
I always wonder how you can get your dog back close to you in an emergency, if you have to wait for the mechanism to reel back in and then lock it?
For example if the dog dashes out in the road or runs up to another dog, or is in a river?
With a long line you can grab and loop it up.
It's very quick to reel the lead back in. Obviously you keep an eye out for other dogs or things that might distract your dog and keep it locked short near roads.
One of the reasons I said I use one is that my dog is liable to jump into any water. I can actually let her have a swim on the flexilead and gradually pull her back when time's up.
Sorry, this is long! I plainly don't have enough to do today...
You have two solutions to this issue:
1. Use some sort of a lead and be prepared to use it until your dog is old and sedate
2. Train your dog
You will probably want to use some sort of lead during training; I used a longline because I can let it drag which gives me a chance to reel the dog back in, without having to keep hold of it all the bloody time. And I hate flexis because they can be so dangerous: a longline might trip you up, but it won't deglove a finger.
With a longline on, you can approach training. There are four things I would do:
1. Give the dog something to do and make being near you a lot of fun. Teach it to hunt for tennis balls near you, and bring them to you. This will tie into a working cocker's hunting and retrieving abilities. Practice off-lead heel (clicker, treats) which will focus the dog on you. Get a gundog dummy and get your dog fetching it to you from across the field, or out of brambles.
2. In tandem with making myself fun, I would do a lot of work on recall - indoors, outdoors, in boring places outdoors and in more exciting places outdoors. If the dog won't come, don't let it just stand there and look at you: get hold of the end of the longline, give it a tug and then recall again. Every time the dog comes to you, reward with food, praise, fuss, a toy - whatever works for the dog. I'm about to start on recall revision with one of my dogs, and will be out there with a tube of Primula once it cools down today.
3. You could also try teaching the stop whistle. Sometimes a stop will cut through the red haze of chasing when a recall won't, because you're not asking the dog to take its eye off the target. Once the dog has stopped, though, recall is much easier - or you have a chance to grab the line. There are lots of videos on YouTube and various gundog books have section on how to teach it.
4. This is the trickiest (and IME bloody hard with squirrels as they are never where you think they'll be): teach your dog to be 'steady'. You will need to build up to this with sit-stay and stop. You get them used to seeing various targets (rabbits, chickens, whatever) and being able to sit there, not chase, and recall to you or heel away off-lead or whatever. I did this with rabbits by having the dog on a longline, taking her to temptation and piling on the rewards for stopping when told and coming back to me. She is great near rabbits, but a bugger around squirrels...
Working cockers have a lot of prey-drive, but they are very trainable. Doing stuff with your dog builds a really good bond with them, so they want to be with you and get terribly excited when they see the dummy bag come out.
i use both... some of the issues people mention with flexis also apply to long lines btw, you can injure yourself and others with them, badly made or badly maintained ones snap... and the jolt at the end if you have a bolter is worse because they’re longer.
With a flexi, I use them for dogs who aren’t getting offlead (for various reasons) I find them easier to use like a really long lead and much easier to get a dog back to you on.
But you need to make sure you know how to use the lock, if you’re properly locking it rather than just holding it, always double check it’s on, but one that’s good quality (flexi branded rather than a cheap copy) you want one that’s designed for over the weight of your dog by lots and a tape not a cord one... and you want it to be clean and dry when you put it away.... and never touch the tape, only the handle when it’s unlocked.
Long lines I find are better for dogs that could be offlead if their recall was just a bit better - you can leave them trailing on the ground and just stand on it when you need to.
Oh and I use both on all sorts of sized dogs, largest would be about 45kg...
“ if you have to wait for the mechanism to reel back in and then lock it?”
Lock, quickly release the lock move forward then lock again, or, pull the dog towards you and unlock then lock again...it’s actually much quicker than trying to loop up a longline and even with a dog trying to get places it creates enough slack to reel in.
I wouldn’t use either near roads or other people or dogs and you always want to use them with a harness that had a loop on the dog’s back.
Interesting, I've never really used one so I guess it is a knack.
I would definitely be susceptible to just grabbing the line and giving myself rope burn!
I’ve given myself a “burn” with one it bloody hurts.
I’ve also seen a pup with one attached to a collar wrap him self around a tree and nearly choke to death
Have also read in the news recently about a woman who died after two retractable leads got wrapped around her neck. Fuck knows how that occurred and was probably the freakest of accidents but Christ what a way to die!
We are continuing to work on it now and play lots of games with her in an attempt to be more interesting. Thing is though, her concentration span for games/hunting balls/retrieving is about 15-20 minutes and then I put her back on her lead and bring her home.
I’ve got a long line but can’t get to grips with reeling it back in and carrying it around wet and sandy! She’s so quick that if she decides to run after a bird I’d be lucky to stand on it (plus on soft sand it sometimes just runs under my foot).
When we go away at the end of the month we’ll be with extended family who will want long walks on the beach/cliffs/woods. I guess she’ll just have to have her off lead time and then go back on her normal lead. I wish there was an easy alternative somewhere in between a long line and a flexi lead.