On a recent trip to visit with friends at Alaska’s well-known Red Eagle Lodge—which is near the United States’ largest national park, the 13-million-mile Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve—I found myself in a conundrum. I’d brought Eira on the trip because she’s part of our family and deserves to relax and play away from home with us. Red Eagle Lodge is dog-friendly as long as you keep your dog on a leash, as is the rule in most campgrounds. We had a tie out at home, but it wasn’t retractable and I worried my toddler would trip over it if we tied Eira up outside our cabin.
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A Camping Trip Conundrum
In the frenzy of packing, I’d forgotten to figure out a solution before we left for the trip. Out of desperation, I popped into a hardware store on the way—in Glennallen, Alaska, population 400—and made my greatest recent discovery as a dog parent: the retractable cable tie out.
The 20-foot-long, 40-foot diameter retractable tie out cost more than a regular, non-retractable one, so I knew I was taking a risk. What if, even though it said it fit dogs 25-80 pounds, Eira broke it?
As soon as we arrived at our campsite an hour later, I used a mallet to secure the stake into the earth outside the tiny cabin we’d be staying in. The tie out I purchased comes with a rubber tee to put on top of the bolt you can see in the photo below to make for easier installation. The leash wraps neatly into the disc-shaped black/blue part.
Eira plays with her Kong toy on her retractable cable tie out at Red Eagle Lodge in Chistochina, Alaska.
Just like a Flexi leash, it elongates and retracts with your dog’s movements. But because the retractable leash doesn’t need to be as compact as a leash does, bulkiness isn’t a concern. I’ve never seen a retractable cable leash, but this tie out is cable, which makes it much harder for your dog to chew in half.
Here’s the retractable tie out in action:
Throughout our stay at Red Eagle Lodge, we took Eira on walks to the nearby park so she could go down the slide with our son and spend time with us. We took her to a creek, too, where she experienced natural water for the first time. But when we were visiting with our friends inside the lodge’s main house, we left her at our cabin site on her retractable tie out.
The first time we did this, I was nervous that she might lunge toward us and break it. She didn’t, though: she found a cozy spot in the shade and took a long nap. Her food and water were within reach, and she had a couple of toys to play with.
She didn’t even bark! The only time we had to put her in her crate was when another, more aggressive German shepherd got let off his leash. He charged Eira, snarling and growling. He did NOT want to play. She was safe in her crate for those fifteen minutes but she was overjoyed when we got the other dog back on a leash and let Eira back onto her retractable tie out.
Do Retractable Tie Outs and Children Mix?
I didn’t bring our non-retractable tie out from home because I didn’t want my two-year-old to trip on the cord. But I confess that when I was purchasing the retractable tie out, I wondered if it would make a significant difference. Would it eliminate the tripping problem, not only for my toddler but for any of the children running around the campground?
At first, everyone gave the retractable tie out a wide berth to avoid any chance of tripping. But then my son found his favorite of Eira’s toys, her bright yellow Kong football, and decided to play with her.
You can see for yourself how their play session went!
In the video, you’ll notice how smoothly (if noisily) the cable retracts and extends as my toddler throws the ball and Eira chases after it. My two babies got lots of playtime in, and neither of them ever tripped or got tangled in the cable. No one else did, either.
How Easy Is It To Move a Retractable Tie Out?
The second day of our trip dawned sunny and spectacular. Because our cabin was maybe 100 square feet in size, Eira had spent the entire night outside on her retractable leash. At home, she sleeps inside. But she didn’t make a peep all night—the soft, mossy grass made a wonderful bed.
Eira on her second day of retractable tie out living.
Eira’s area stayed shady all morning, but by afternoon, the sun started beating down on her black fur. I noticed she was panting and drinking more water than usual. Using both hands, I tugged her tie out stake out of the earth. It did take some muscle, but that meant the stake was secure in the ground. I got it out after a minute or so and moved it to a shadier place on the other side of our cabin.
My toddler liked Eira’s new location because she could join him on a forest-exploring expedition, all while staying on her retractable tie out.
A boy and his dog explore the forest together safely and happily, thanks to our retractable tie out.
Can You Give Your Dog Attention on a Retractable Tie Out?
The second night, my husband and I set up camping chairs inside Eira’s tie out diameter. She jumped up onto our laps and then jumped back off. She rolled around on the ground, baring her tummy for a scratch. Finally, she curled up at our feet, tail thumping.
The retractable tie out handled all this jumping around with ease.
Eira’s goofy grin as she gets some cuddles. Note how the retractable leash stays easily out of the way!
Using the Retractable Tie Out At Home
Our weekend camping trip ended, but we didn’t want to stop using our new, amazing product. Now that it’s summer here in Alaska and we get 20 hours of daylight every day, we spend lots of time in both our front and back yards. Eira likes to be where we are, and since she’s a runner, we’re still working on leaving her off the leash for any amount of time.
Eira has a non-retractable tie out in the backyard, but not the front. So when we got home, we pounded the stake into the gravel next to our barn in the front area of our house. The next day, I went out to work in the flower beds. Eira started yowling from the backyard and at first, I sighed. Then I remembered—the retractable tie out!
I brought her to the front yard and clipped her onto it. The leash extends right to the flower beds but doesn’t let her go into them, which works perfectly. Eira got to stay next to her mama, and I got to get some weeding done.
We now use the retractable leash every single day so that Eira can spend time with us in the front yard.
Basically, the retractable leash has greatly improved Eira’s and our lives. We’re going camping in Denali National Park next week, and our retractable tie out will get packed up to come with us. It’s only one piece (aside from the rubber tee) so there’s no leash + stake to risk losing or getting separated.
So…What Retractable Tie Out Did We Use?
Now that you know all about how much I love Eira’s retractable tie out, you’re probably wondering exactly which one it is so you can run out and get it for your own dog.
Not only will I show you our exact one, but I’ll also share a couple others that work well, too.
The Lixit Animal Care Retractable Cable Tie Out (OUR TIE OUT)
Simple, affordable, and essential to our Red Eagle Lodge camping trip, the Lixit Animal Care Retractable Cable Tie Out solved a lot of our summer-related problems and makes a convenient addition to our home. We got the cable for dogs between 25-80 pounds, but Amazon also sells one for dogs up to 30 pounds and for bigger dogs from 80-120 pounds.
Lixit Retractable Cable Tie Out Buy on Amazon
3SixtyFun Rotating Dog Tie-Out
This tie out, while shorter in lead length, has a corkscrew stake for added security. If your dog is prone to running, you may want to try this retractable tie out. This lead is specifically designed for smaller breeds—up to 55 pounds in weight.
3SixtyFun Rotating Dog Tie-Out Buy on Amazon
You & Me Heavy Retractable Tie Out
This tie out for stronger, bigger dogs has the added benefit of reflective material to ensure extra safety and visibility for your beloved pup. It’s designed much like the Lixit retractable tie out but actually has less reach—which can benefit you if you need a slightly shorter roaming circumference to keep your dog safe and happy.
You & Me Retractable Tie-Out Buy on Amazon
Lixit Bracket Mount Retractable Tie Out Ree
If you have a running cable for your dog, attach this retractable bracket mount to give your dog even more freedom to run and roam without risking safety. You can also mount it to a fence or a wall, or anywhere that fits your dog’s needs best.
SaleLixit Bracket Mount Retractable Tie-Out Buy on Amazon
Have You Ever Tried Using a Retractable Tie Out?
There are fewer retractable tie outs on the market than you’d think, but they’re endlessly convenient. Eira thinks every one of her canine companions should have one!
The black arrow points to the retractable tie out stake. You can barely see it! That’s how inconspicuous and easy-to-use it is.
Do you use a retractable tie out? If so, let us know which is your favorite in the comments!