How to Repair a Retractable Dog Leash

Retractable leashes are available for dogs, big and small.

Retractable leashes are available for dogs, big and small.

Retractable dog leashes provide your pup with a little more room to move on a walk, but they're prone to malfunction when their internal mechanisms are gummed up by dirt, debris or fur. Fixing a broken retractable dog leash isn't always possible, but small issues like twists and dirt are resolvable with a few common tools and real know-how.

Place the dog leash handle unit on a flat surface with good lighting.

Remove the screws that secure the two halves of the plastic casing. These are generally found near the corners of the device, but locations vary by manufacturer and model. Sometimes they're under stickers.

Insert a plastic separator between the two halves of the casing to keep the spring from popping, and gently pry it apart. Inside you will find the retracted leash, the spring mechanism, and other parts that control the leash’s functionality.

Extend the leash slowly and track the cord for twists or debris. Unfold any twisted areas, and clean dirt and debris off the leash with a wet paper towel.

Retract the leash. If problems still occur, check the spring mechanism for obstruction. Remove any debris that may be blocking the unit’s functionality.

Close the case and replace the screws.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver or Allen wrench
  • Plastic separator tool
  • Paper towel


  • Retractable leashes, while convenient, pose a number of risks to the dog, his handler and bystanders. Always consult your leash’s user manual before use.

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