Using the Correct Collar for your Dog

January 13, 2013 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

This article is written by Dr. Landorff – Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

collars 5Daily walks for your dog sounds like a simple thing, but to some dog owners it’s not a pleasant experience.  There are many dogs that pull whenever they see other people, dogs, or the dreaded squirrels that seem to antagonize my Goldendoodle.  For this reason I should like to talk a little bit about the different types of collars, harnesses, and halters that can make this daily routine a “walk in the park”.

dog in obedience classA basic obedience course is always recommended for a new puppy or dog to the family.  It is my opinion to choose an instructor that believes in a positive training protocol using rewards rather than negative reinforcement training

collars 4I never recommend the use of a “choke collar”.  I have seen several dogs over the years that continue to pull with these collars on to the point where there is damage to the windpipe.  I also am not a fan of the prong or “pinch” collars except on rare occasions where a pet has already been trained on one and does not have to be corrected often.

Harpo in his harness

Harpo in his harness

For small dogs under about 30 pounds or cats harnesses work very well.  They are very secure, thus very unlikely for the pet to “slip” out of, if fitted properly and do not press on the throat of those smaller dogs who have a sensitive windpipe syndrome called tracheal collapse.  It is also an extra added safety measure when the stray dog suddenly shows up ready to fight.  I have lifted my little Shih Tzu by the leash in these cases preventing a big dog little dog bite wound.

collars 3For larger dogs that pull badly to the point where your arms and shoulders hurt after walking I am a big fan of halters like the Gentle Leader or Easy Walk products.  These fit around the nose and behind the ears.  The halter gives the best control without causing any discomfort.  The old adage “where the head goes the body goes” is true.  Instead of having to pull the entire dog to change direction, you simply turn the head the direction you are walking.  Some dogs will fight these at first by pawing at their face or rubbing on the ground, but the dog that fights it the most generally needs it the most.  I have seen some dogs that were very hard to control on walks respond very well to the Gentle Leader allowing mothers with small children or babies in strollers able to enjoy walking with the children and pet at the same time.

Bailey with Gentle Leader harness

Bailey with Gentle Leader harness

For short nosed dogs or those that just will not tolerate the halter circling the nose, there is a Gentle Leader harness.  The advantage of this harness is that it attaches and pulls tight in the front of the dog’s chest.  Once again you are able to turn the pet rather than having to control the entire body.  It is important that all collars, harnesses, or halters be fitted properly so seek help from an animal behaviorist, trainer, or veterinary hospital staff when deciding which of these products to use.  It is very rewarding to hear how much more enjoyable something as simple as a daily walk can be for dog and owner when it goes smoothly.

Article from Pet Sitters Associates, LLC Quarterly Newsletter 2012 Vol. 4

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Entry filed under: Dogs. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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