Retractable leashes…

Most of the time, I say I hate retractable leashes. It is not the retractable leash that I hate, however — it is the person that does not know how to properly use a retractable leash that gives the product a bad rap.

Retractable dog leashes can extend sometimes up to 20 to 25 feet. These leashes were not designed for neighborhood walks or for use when in a store, etc. They were designed for when you have a large area where you can allow your well-trained dog a longer leash, like in an open field or the like.

They are not for walking up and down the aisles of the local pet store. They were not designed for the small neighborhood walk — 4-foot or 6-foot leashes were designed for these purposes. Also, if your dog is not relatively well trained, you should definitely not use a retractable leash.

When retractable leashes are not used properly, they can be dangerous to the owner, the dog and to others. The leash can become entangled around humans' and pets' legs.

Also, use retractable that are rated for your dog's size. Using the incorrect size retractable leash can result in lost dogs. They have size ratings because of how they are made and the material used. Using one rated for a small dog for a large dog can result in breakage and possibly a lost dog.

If you are going to use a retractable leash, use it properly. It is designed so you can adjust the length of the leash and lock it in place. This means when you are walking in closer areas, retract it to a shorter length; then, when you are in wide-open areas, release it to longer lengths.

Always be aware of your surroundings. If you see another dog or person approaching, shorten the leash and lock it in place. Once they are out of the area, you may release it to a longer length again.

Also, pay close attention to your dog — those longer leashes can easily and quickly become wrapped around your dog's leg, and a quick jerk from your dog can possibly break your dog's leg.

So, if you are going to use a retractable leash, please use it properly — never inside of a business; never during training classes; never in neighborhoods. Only in large, wide-open areas.

Cheryl Loveland is a semi-retired dog groomer. Her pet menagerie has shrunk to Bo, her bloodhound; Noel, her bichon frisée and Bootsie, her cat. She currently resides between Keymar, Md., and Millsboro and Selbyville. She is currently not doing rescue work but hopes to resume that when she returns to a more permanent residence. She is a member of Colonial Bloodhound Club and membership chairperson for Misspillion Kennel Club in Milford. She also still helps out at a local boarding kennel in the Bethany Beach area. She has been working with all varieties of pets since she was a child growing up in Montgomery County, Md. She may be reached at