The equipment we use for our dogs is very important for their comfort and wellbeing as well as helping us to control them when out for a walk or work.
All dogs should wear a flat collar when out and about to which an identity tag is attached. The tag should have the owners name and address on one side with phone number on the other. The collar should be of a width suitable for the dog and fitted so 2-3 fingers can slip comfortably inside. Please note it is an offence for a dog not to have an ID tag unless the dog is working or taking part in a sporting event. To check whether or not your dog is exempt from this legislation please check the website: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/901/made
If a dog has been taught to walk on a loose lead then it can be acceptable to attach a lead to the collar. However, this can cause discomfort and injury to the dog if the lead is pulled. The dog’s neck is particularly sensitive as it houses the spinal column, thyroid gland, oesophagus and windpipe – all vital to the wellbeing of the dog. Many people claim it doesn’t hurt their dog to pull as they continue to do it. This is most likely because the dog has become over excited and an adrenaline burst has caused them to blank out the pain. Quite often, after pulling a dog will cough indicating the wind pipe has been hurt.
A well fitting harness is the best option for any dog. Those with chest and back D rings are most useful, especially when teaching a dog to walk on a loose lead. The picture below (taken from Google Images) shows the harness being used with the lead attached to the front and back. A lead with a trigger hook at each end is used
to attach the lead. This gives the handler full control over the front end of the dog which is when the strength comes from. If a longline is used it can be attached to the back of the harness so allow the dog some freedom. Notice the V shape at the front, this harness does not impede the movement of the shoulders of the dog as some harnesses do. It is also important to ensure the straps around the girth of the dog are far enough behind the dogs elbow not to cause chafing but not so far back that it rests on the soft area behind the rib cage which could cause discomfort and injury. The harness should not be so loose that it slips around the body but not so tight that it pinches, as with the collar you should be able to slip 2-3 fingers inside the harness all around.
Headcollars are another piece of equipment that are used by people to control dogs. Once again, these can cause injury if used incorrectly, long lines or extending leads should never be attached to a headcollar under any circumstances. If the dog pulls it could cause irreparable damage to the neck. Some are also ill fitting and can cause great discomfort to the dog around the very sensitive muzzle an eye areas. There are some instances where a headcollar could be useful, for example a handler with a disability may find it easier to put on and use but it is important that the dog is comfortable and it is highly recommended that a trainer such as one from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) is contacted to help with the fitting and advise on the use of this piece of equipment.
Slip leads/check chains are not suitable for dogs, they can cause injury and great discomfort, especially for a dog that hasn’t been taught to walk on a loose lead. They can tighten and not release if not fitted correctly, a reputable trainer would not advocate their use.
Electric collars and spray or vibration collars do not teach, they simple instil fear. It is always better to teach a dog to offer a behaviour rather than force it through pain or discomfort.
Extending leads are perhaps one of the most popular and yet one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment on the market. The mechanism inside can break causing the lead not to retract, the lead can snap, if the handler grabs the lead it can slice through the flesh of the hand like a knife. There is little control over the dog and if attached to a collar the dog can lunge and cause injury to the neck. There have been many reports of dogs being killed when on an extending lead as the handler has allowed the dog to roam ahead and the dog has run into the road causing an accident.
So, to conclude please remember:
Dogs must wear a collar with ID tag when out and about
The collar should be a suitable size for the dog and be fitted correctly
If attaching a lead to the collar the dog should be taught to walk comfortably on a loose lead
A well fitting harness is the most comfortable piece of equipment to use for your dog
Extending leads can be very dangerous
One of the most common problems for dog guardians is pulling on the lead. It pays to learn how to teach your dog to walk on a loose lead, always seek professional help you to teach your dog using positive reinforcement. Find your local APDT trainer at https://apdt.co.uk/