Elsa in her harness and collar for ID purposes.

Good Monday morning.................. I hope you all had a great weekend, we did.  I was just surfing around the web and came across a site selling collars.  The collars are the production of a television trainer who uses harsh training methods.  He has made the collar to look like something friendly and kind when it is nothing of the sort.  So, I thought I'd discuss my perspective on collars.

A long time ago when I was first into dogs, a very long time ago I used choke collars.  It was what you used back in the late 70s, they were all that there was really.  So I have used them and fully understand them. My experience with choke collars is why I do not use them.  I do not like pinch or prong collars either, I've used them too.  Many people jump to defend the choke or prong collar as a useful training aid, I disagree.  This is my opinion, you don't have to agree with me but I have the experience to back up my opinion.

The pinch/prong and the choke collar work by inflicting pain.  Even the smallest of yanks can deliver the discomfort needed to get the job done.  Both collars also create negative associations which in turn causes fallout behaviors.  Along with the aftermath of a yank comes injury to the neck.  There can be minor injury all the way up to severe damage causing lasting effects.  A dog's neck is a sensitive area.  Much like our neck set on a different angle and more muscled, it can be injured by whiplash effects of yanking.

The front of a dogs neck, the throat area and the area up behind the ear set are the most sensitive.  They have less muscle there to afford them protection so many dogs suffer trachea/esophagus damage.  The constant yanking of a collar on the front of the neck can lead to all sorts of damage.  When put up around the ears as instructed by the site I found this morning, even more damage can be caused.  I often see people using choke or prong collars along with an extension leash, this is a horrible combination.  With the extension leash on continuous extend it is constantly tugging.  Plus the fact that any people don't feel the impact with these leashes as the dog is so far away so that the dog is receiving even harsher impact.  Dogs running around on an extension often abruptly come to the end of the leash delivering severe neck whips.

Even a regular buckle type collar or head collar can be damaging when yanked on.  Just because you are not using a choke or prong collar does not mean that you are not damaging your dogs neck.  If you dog is pulling on a walk then that collar is pulling on their neck.  The whipping motion from a dog on a head harness can be intense, you must take great care not to allow a dog to take a full impact on their neck.

I cannot go over everything about collars in this one blog, it must be broken down into several.  What I want to get across is that our dogs necks are much more sensitive than many people think.  In my opinion dogs should be on harnesses.  There are many types of harnesses out there these days to choose from, I like the Easy Walk harness by premier for normal everyday walks.  But most harnesses take the pull away from the neck which is a good thing.  Although many harnesses create more of a tugging problem so training is a must.  You need to train your dog not to pull, there is no magic 'no pull' pill that you can give to your dog.

Collars should be used for ID tags.  If and when you are going to use it as a walking device then I believe that it should be as wide as possible.  Of course if your dog is like my Tilley was then it doesn't matter what you have on their neck because there is no pulling.  Tilley considered the whole idea of pulling on a leash extremely rude and would never partake in such behaviors.  But is was Tilley who got me to thinking that the neck is not what most people think it is.  Even the slightest of tug on her neck would set her to coughing.  Things quickly changed after the addition of Tilley for us.

I have some really great 2" wide collars that go on my dogs if I am planning to use collars for walking. It is a very rare occurrence as they can almost always be seen on harnesses.  I saw a woman the other day who was dragging her dog away from something the dog obviously wanted to sniff.  He was on a choke collar and she was pulling and pulling.  For some reason we just don't see the affect of this as choking our dogs.  Sadly choke collars can be purchased for mere pennies steering those who 'don't care' to buy them.

So many things in our past 'are' just because they 'have been' for so long.  As we continue our evolution in this world we must do just that: evolve to a better way.  Just because people from the past have said that this is how you do it; or even those continuing to do it today say it's okay, we must be able to see for ourselves that it is not okay.   Be a thinker, be a part of a better evolution for the life shared together; the canine/human connection.

Evolve:  a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.

I know that I am going to get lots of backlash from this blog, I have in the past.  But I stand strong on my opinion, and you have the right to have yours.