Collars and other equipment

Yesterday we went for a hike at a local park. It was an awesome day for the 7th of January — temps in the 60s! So there were lots and lots of people out with their dogs.

Fortunately all the dogs we came across were on leash. Yay! I’m not opposed to folks giving their dogs a chance to enjoy freedom off leash, but it’s not appropriate if the off leash dog decides to invade another dog’s personal space. Anyway, I digress.

The subject of today’s blog is collars. Yesterday while we were hiking we came across a family with a little Yorkie. The dog upon seeing us pulled straight back, behind his handler, and promptly slipped his collar allowing him free access to come charging over to my dog. Fortunately he was a small fry and I was able to help the owner secure him while keeping the 2 dogs separated. (As I mentioned some dogs don’t like others in their space — my dog’s one of those!)

Anyway, it brings up the subject of collars. I like regular buckle collars, which is what the Yorkie was wearing, but if the dog pulls backward and the collar is loose it may easily come up over the dog’s ears and fly off the dog, allowing him to be free. I suspect the Yorkie had done this before based on the speed at which it happened and his owner’s remarks.

So what do you do?

• If you are using a buckle collar and your dog suddenly pulls backwards try to put some slack in the leash immediately. Then turn and look at your dog. If the buckle/leash attachment is under their chin they should not be able to slip the collar, however, if the attachment is at the top of their neck it’s likely the dog will be able to wiggle free.

• Consider other types of equipment:
A martingale collar provides the loose fit of a buckle collar but with the added safety feature of tightening when pressure is applied, around the entire neck. This last feature is important. The problem with choke collars is that they apply pressure to a specific point on the dog’s neck and there’s no preset limit to how much pressure can be exerted when one tugs on the leash. With a martingale, when properly fitted, it has a limit as to how tight the collar can get  — safer for the dog, and its pressure’s applied evenly across the dog’s neck which means there’s less chance of injury due to a closed trachea or other constrictions.
Harnesses are another alternative you might consider, especially the no pull harnesses like Premier’s Easy Walk or the Sensation Harness. By fastening around the dog’s body harnesses eliminate concerns about possible tracheal injury. However, they must be fitted properly or there’s a chance your dog could wiggle out of them. If your dog is one of these escape masters you may want your dog to wear a regular or martingale collar in addition to the harness and fasten the leash to both, ensuring that if he gets free from the harness you still have the collar as a back-up.
Head halters are another alternative, however, unless introduced with some counter conditioning many dogs find them to be very irritating.

Hopefully these tips are helpful and you can enjoy worry free hikes with your dogs in the great outdoors!



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