Collars, Harnesses, Seat Belts, OH MY!
A buckle collar has a plastic or metal clip to secure it around the dog’s neck and has no moving parts for correction. These can be made of webbed nylon or leather of different widths. There is also a large selection of patterned collars available in pet stores.
A buckle collar can be worn every day and it is the preferred collar for attaching licenses and identification. It should sit low around the dog’s neck and you should be able to fit 2 fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar.
A combination collar is based on the old martingale collar with one difference. Instead of a loop of nylon there is a loop of chain.
The collar is set so that at its tightest (when the two ends of the nylon meet) it should still have a clearance of two fingers.
The correction method with this collar is not that you want to choke your dog, you want him to hear the chain (right beside his ear) as the correction. When the dog is pulling or not obeying your command it only takes gentle pressure to make the chain rattle and you can then verbally correct the dog. The second he releases, so does the collar.
This collar is now widely used by trainers and by breeders for their show dogs.
A head collar works on the same principle as a halter for a horse. If you have control of the head, the body will follow. There are a number of brands of head collars. They are made of nylon and have a loop that goes around the muzzle (loosely) and a buckle at the back of the head. Under the muzzle is the ring that the leash attaches to for leverage. The head halter does not affect panting, barking or licking.
A head halter is only a training tool and should be used when you are actively working with your dog. Some dogs take a while to adjust to having something on their nose and may paw at it or even freeze up. This is usually short lived, once the dog realizes that it doesn’t hurt and you are using it along with positive reinforcement.
A good size for everyday walking your dog is a 4 to 6 foot long leash. This can be made of nylon, webbed nylon or leather. You want to be sure that the leash will not be uncomfortable for you to hold on to and that it is not too large or heavy for the dog.
Retractable leashes are one of the worst inventions for dog owners. This teaches your dog that if he/she pulls on the leash they are rewarded with more freedom and distance from you. When you attempt to pull them back, (they could be in danger) you have no way of reeling them in. If you desire to let your dog have some freedom, you could use a 30 foot long leash. This should only be used once your dog has a good recall and has earned the freedom.
The front strap of the harness sits just in front of the shoulders and goes all the way around the dog’s chest. The second strap goes around the body behind the front legs. The sizing is typically small, medium, large and extra large. The same 2 finger rule applies to the straps encircling the dog’s body.
A harness can be used on most dogs, but is especially good for dogs with neck injuries. For example, a collapsed trachea caused by the wrong type of collar used.
CANINE VEHICLE RESTRAINT - DOG SEAT BELT
Transporting pets safely is something many dog owners don’t consider until it is too late. A sixty-pound dog is roughly the same weight as a seven-year old child. Hopefully no parent would consider letting their seven-year old (or any other passenger) ride in their car without wearing a seat belt. Up until very recently products designed to protect dogs much the way seat belts protect humans didn’t exist. Thankfully that has changed.
Previous restraint systems were created to prevent the dog from walking around the car and jumping from the back seat to the front seat, but did not protect the dog in an actual accident. Crates are not designed to protect your pet in a crash either. The dog could still be thrown against the sides of the crate in the event of a sudden stop or swerve.
Now that seat belts are available for dogs, in the event of a crash or sudden movement of the car, the dog is prevented from injury. Proper fit is essential. Do not assume that a larger size is better and that the puppy will “grow into it”. If the harness is too large it will fall off. You may need to purchase a few to grow with your dog. Just as you would purchase numerous car seats for a child as they grow.