Taking your puppy for his first walks is exciting! Have you considered the benefits of using a harness rather than a traditional collar and lead? Canine neck structure is similar to ours and a dog that pulls on his lead may damage the trachea (wind pipe), cause thyroid gland disorders or cervical spine problems. Pulling may even result in eye complaints. Using a flexi-lead with a collar may also be hazardous since a dog can suffer a whip-lash type injury if the lead reaches full length and jerks him backwards.
You may wonder why, if pulling is potentially harmful and painful, dogs continue to pull. Simply because it works. Pulling gets them to the park! Because dogs have a higher pain threshold than humans they can continue to pull even when gasping for breath.
A harness fits around the shoulders and chest, reducing the risk of neck injury. It often lessens pulling as the dog feels more comfortable, secure and balanced. A harness also gives you more control and an older, frail or ill dog may appreciate the additional support and guidance of a harness when out walking.
There are many types of harness on the market. It is important to purchase the correct size to prevent your dog backing out. Some harnesses have two points of attachment for a lead – back and chest – to give you that all-important control. My personal favourites include: