My Greyhound Walks on a Retractable Leash: Here is Why

The topic Greyhounds and retractable leashes is a heated topic, and any Google search will result in plenty of reasons why you should not use a retractable leash for your greyhound. 

When Mega Elixir came to me, Juliette’s track name, I met the hulk of greyhound ladies. Her chest was massive! Frankly, I was a little jealous!

Mega Elixir was temporarily named Hottie by her adoption group. But that name only lasted for about a month. So as Mega Elixir faded into the past and Hottie quickly became Juliette, a journey that would test my patience and understanding of this incredibly magnificent, gentle, powerful yet graceful and silly breed started. 

The Beginning

The first three months I was using a full body harness. My newly adopted 20 months old greyhound barely cared for me. Our walks were a test of self-control for me. Juliette wanted her ways and her ways only. She would freeze mid walk, scare easily and jump up four feet at anyone. She loves people and children and I have since managed to keep her from jumping.

Coming of Age

After about six months the frustration-inducing behaviors of turning randomly into an Egyptian statue seized to exist. Juliette now walked comfortably with her decorative martingale collar and a thick leather leash wrapped tightly around my arm and hand. She would still startle easily and continue her explosive jumps at anyone. When she had to go, she would pull. Besides the pulling, my girl would randomly explode into her running gait. With a human on the leash, this didn’t last very long.

For the previous three years, this is how we walked. Leather leash, martingale, and sneakers for running.

Senior

Now my girl is six years old; Her zoomies in the backyard no longer happen on a frequent basis. She doesn’t startle at anything, well maybe a paper bag inside the house. She doesn’t pounce on anything. She hasn’t run with us in over half a year. Juliette stays by my side, like some static fuss unwilling to fly freely, except for the local doggy newspapers. Those make her jerk randomly and follow their trails

The Present

I know to never to let her off leash unless in a secure location. I am also a firm believer that greyhounds will learn “recall” that works only 50% of the time. It is on their terms. You cannot fight nature. And as much as there are exceptions to the rule, it is better to be safe than sorry. None of us greyhound parents want to put our graceful beauties into harm's way.
But I decided to take a leap of faith. I bought a retractable leash. There are no busy streets where we walk. I keep her close during the busy walking hours, as you never know when the old Mega Elixir comes through. 

But I started using the leash in the evenings and late afternoons when we are alone. I wanted to see what is it like to be 10-15 feet away from her, but still be attached.

And the discovery is beautiful. The leash allows Juliette to gently follow scents without yanking her neck. It allows her to follow the trail. If my patience runs out of waiting, instead of gently pulling on the leash, I now say “Let’s go Baby Girl!” And my happy hound picks up her pace, looks at me with her big brown eyes and walks by me, 3, 4, and sometimes 6 feet ahead, then she waits for me to keep up.

I tested to see if she follows me when I decide to make a turn. Again, I didn’t want to give her physical cues through the leash but train her to listen to me. It works.

Now when we walk, and we switch between the old faithful leather leash and her thick, sturdy retractable leash, I only use verbal cues to activate her to follow me and she roams freely within 15 feet of me. She is my heart dog, and I am her person. If she ever does get off leash, I hope that I have just increased that 50% to 65% because she is trained slightly more to follow and react to my voice.