It’s a common sight, and one that we have all seen. Dogs pulling on leads, excited to get to their next
adventure, sparking the question – who is actually walking who?
Collars are part of a dog’s life, and have their uses – a place to hang ID tags, contact information,
and in this day and age, a must have fashion accessory. But when used inappropriately, they can
actually be quite harmful to the delicate structures in your dog’s neck.
So often we see dogs being walked with a leash attached directly to the collar around their neck.
Control is achieved by pulling on the leash, which is attached to the collar, which sits right over
several vital structures, including the spine, trachea, jugular vein, thyroid and salivary glands.
Every time the dog jerks on the lead, the collar pulls against these structures, and long term use can
be quite damaging.
Problems that we often see related to excessive pressure on the collar include neck pain (spinal and
muscular), a collapsing trachea causing a harsh, hacking cough, thyroid problems, lymph node
drainage issues, dermatitis and nerve damage. These problems can cause serious long term health
issues, and can be easily avoided by the use of a well fitted, good quality harness.
We use and recommend the Harmony Harness for all of our patients, and our own dogs – this is a
front loaded harness which reduces pulling almost immediately. Whichever harness you choose, it
is important to make sure it fits properly, is made of good quality, durable material, and ideally has
two attachment options – one on the back and one on the front of the chest, so that you can adjust
the lead position depending on your dog’s walking preference.
If you happen to have a dog that happily walks quietly on their lead and collar – well done, you are
one of a few! Most of us instead struggle with our excited pooches and need a helping hand to
achieve safe control and to make exercising our dogs a more comfortable and enjoyable experience
Dr. Katria Lovell (B.Sc (Equine) B.V.Sc (Hons) – Veterinarian/Practice Director Redlands Veterinary Clinic