You must be Choking!!!

The ongoing debate between the appropriate use of collars verses harnesses continues. I find that, living and dog walking in London (NW6), the majority of people seem to prefer clipping their lead to their dog’s collar ready for a walk, no matter how long or short. It is also apparent that it doesn’t seem to be a concern if their dog is a small breed with a tiny, fragile neck.

Zsa Zsa with her Halti

If you ask me, I would use a harness almost every time, no matter what breed I was walking… There are obvious acceptions to this rule, those being the large and giant breeds with thick, muscular and fatty necks that are able to support and cushion the strain from the collar. I do feel, however, that if your dog does like to pull (walk you) and if you are still trying to train them to “heel” then using a harness is a much safer method for you and the dog. Even a headcollar on larger breeds are safe and effective.

I cringe each time a dog walks past me making that rough choking sound as they pull away on their lead meaning their collar is acting like a slow noose cutting into their fragile windpipe and damaging the trachea. It’s even worse when I see the owners yanking them back with a firm jerk of their arm. This is only making things worse. Damaging the neck further and indicating to the dog that their pulling is acceptable.

Byron with his padded harness

Traditionally, collars are really only worn to attach an ID tag to which is required by law when you are out and about with your dog. Mircochipping is not enough. You have to have your contact details visible on your dog in case of an emergency. Collars where never intended to be used in conjunction with leads BUT then the slip lead was introduced which means it can be slipped over the dog’s head and sits around the neck, the difference being that is gives slack and doesn’t strangle the dog. Ideally these are only used to walk dogs who are trained to heel or naturally enjoy plodding along by your side.

There are general guidelines widely available online focusing on the appropriate use of collars, leads, different types of leads, harnesses and other dog walking and training attire which is up to the owner’s discretion on which method they feel comfortable using on their dog. There is a lot of misuse due to ignorance and plain lack of education and information on this subject so most owners simply are not aware of the potential long term damage they could be doing to their dog’s neck and internal organs.

One thing should always be considered when walking your dog. Make sure that you are in full control and feel safe. Make sure that your dog is comfortable and safe. Have fun!

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