In Defense of Harnesses
As dog owners, we are constantly bombarded with product after product recommended for walking our dogs. I cringe when I see dogs choking, coughing, and essentially strangling themselves on walks as a result of their collars. While prong and choke collars are the most obvious offenders, even a flat collar can be damaging to a dog's neck if the dog hasn't been properly taught to walk on a loose leash.
There are some very important reasons why you should consider using a no-pull harness for your dog. Here are just a few:
#1: To prevent injuries
Just one incident of pulling or being jerked back on a collar can cause extensive injuries to a dog's neck, including a crushed trachea or a fractured vertebrae. Even in more minor cases, the dog can still experience bruising and headaches. One study showed that over 90 percent of dogs in the study that presented with neck injuries were subjected to an owner that pulled or jerked on the lead. Other potential health issues include:
- Hypothyroidism that can be caused from trauma to the thyroid gland at the base of the neck
- Ear and eyes issues can be a result of extensive pressure on the neck
- Behavior problems caused by pain or other physical injuries from the use of a collar. Because dogs cannot tell us about their pain and it is sometimes hard to tell if a dog is suffering, people often punish a negative reaction without realizing that the reaction has been caused because the dog is in pain.
#2: To teach your dog not to pull
Dogs are highly intelligent and responsive to our cues, but they don't think and perceive the world in exactly the same way that people do. You can yank and jerk your dog around time after time, and yet he will still continue to pull on the leash. Why? Because you haven't taught him the right behavior. Leash corrections only serve to suppress behavior in the moment, but they don't actually teach a dog how you do want him to walk. Those types of corrections can also lead to anxiety and reactivity on leash. There's simply no place for fear, pain, or intimidation when teaching a dog how to walk on a loose leash. A no-pull harness can be a great addition to a positive reinforcement-based training protocol for teaching your dog loose leash walking.
- Learn how to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash indoors
- Learn how to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash outdoors
#3: For your dog's safety
Even if your dog walks beautifully on leash and you don't have an issue with pulling, you never know what could happen in the environment around you. If you need to get your dog immediately close to you, whether it's because a fast-moving car is approaching or perhaps a stray dog is wandering towards you, a collar isn't going to give you the same safe control and ability to manage your dog that a harness will.
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