To ensure musculoskeletal balance and freedom, we recommend investing in comfortable walking equipment for your dog – a non-restrictive harness such as the Haqihana and a long (minimum 3m) loose leash are very important for your dog’s physical and emotional well-being.

Els walking long leash

Thanks to a number of proactive trainers, dog behaviourists, manual therapists and Veterinarians, it is starting to become clear the potential damage a collar and tight leash can do to your dog. There are many sensitive structures in the neck, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, the skeleton and spinal cord, nerves, blood vessels, glands, the windpipe and oesophagus and lymph nodes.  Pulling on a collar, either hard, or repeatedly (for example to get to that smell over there, or to say hello to that person over there, or to bark at that dog over there, or to get away from that scary bike over there…), can potentially damage some or all of these structures, and may manifest as symptoms as curious and varied as persistent foot licking, reactivity on leash, depression, aggression, thyroid disease, and stomach complaints, as well as many others.  Allowing your dog to put any pressure on their collar is essentially equivalent to giving them whiplash.

Dog pulling on leash

 

So what do we suggest instead?  A non-restrictive, well-designed harness that keeps the throat free and distributes any pulling pressure over the dog’s body rather than across the neck.  The Haqihana is an excellent design and is what we recommend and sell here at The Natural Vets.

Haqihana rainbow

Many harnesses pull across the shoulders which restricts movement, or clip at the front and will continue to put pressure on the neck.

Here is Turid Rugaas explaining what to look for in a harness:

A long leash is recommended also, as it will allow your dog more freedom on walks to be curious and explore, after all that’s the whole point of a walk isn’t it! Being able to move about freely on a leash will also help your dog communicate more easily with you and with other dogs, so you are less likely to find yourself in situations that make your dog feel uncomfortable, stressed, anxious or fearful.  Dogs do need training  to walk on a loose leash, especially if they have always been pulling on a short, restrictive leash, or walked on a retractable leash (these always feel tight so your dog never learns to walk on a loose leash), or in a collar or harness that causes discomfort and an avoidance reaction (ie pulling away).  Humans also need training to manage a longer leash.  To help with this, we suggest a short easy to read book by Turid Rugaas ‘My Dog Pulls, What Do I Do?’ which can be bought online from Bookdepository or Dogwise as an e-book or in hard copy form.

We stock 3, 4 and 5m long leashes by Freedogz, and can also order in longer tracking leashes. Freedogz leads are made from maintenance-free biothane (synthetic leather) and are of excellent quality and craftmanship that will last a lifetime.  They can handle salt water, muddy puddles, bushy terrain, wherever you want to explore with your dog, they will take you.

Continuing to walk on a collar or restrictive harness and a short leash will negate the benefits of any veterinary treatments, and will hinder full recovery.  Invest in the correct walking equipment and training today, and both you and your dog will come to enjoy many pleasurable walks together!

For more assistance in learning how to walk your dog on a long leash, we suggest attending one of Jenny Golsby’s Complete Canine Communication workshops in Brisbane.