dog necks

A dog's neck

canine neck

The canine neck is complex; holding in it a mosaic of bones, muscles, nerves, veins and more.

Elsa and I were at the bottom of the final hill before ending our Monday morning exercise together. As we looked up and prepared for our big push up the hill; a dog caught my eye. To the right of the hill and down the path was a dog who was being naughty. He was leaping frantically on his owner; grabbing and shaking his leash. I watched for a moment as any dog trainer would.

Two woman were walking what looked to be a juvenile Shepherd/Husky mix. Not knowing how to control his outburst of behavior; the woman on the other end of the leash yanked. The dog was wearing a choke collar. I could literally hear the chain as she yanked and yanked. She’d had it and was obviously grasping to control him. Sadly his neck was taking a beating for his behavior.

After his outburst of exuberant behavior she yanked in attempt to get him under control. She yanked his every movement. She was not tolerating him even looking around now and yanked his every head turn. I shuddered at the thought of what his neck was having to endure. We just don’t consider our dog’s necks near enough. Often after a good assessment, I would step in and say something but the dog and two women were a good distance off. After the yanking ended, Elsa and I moved on.

I am a big harness fan. Although I started training using the conventional choke collar; it is all there was way back when I was 13 years old. That is a very long time ago (43 years to be exact) and we are must smarter now, right?

dog neck

Being that I have been involved with 3 serious rear end collisions I am hyper vigilant about neck issues. My neck is bad pretty much all the time; some days worse than others but a constant issue for me. The way many people yank their dogs around by the neck is very disturbing. I know that it does not come from ill intent but a lack of knowledge. We just don’t think about our actions much of the time.

After trying with no success to yank her dog into control; the person on the other end of the leash was stressed and frustrated. This lead her to just yank on her dog out of anger. And this “anger” is where I see much of the problem with being attached to our dog’s necks. We try to stop our dog’s actions by yanking on them. The whole yank method of training is based around stopping behavior by yanking on our dogs. Sadly it can require more and more yanking to achieve the smallest amount of success.

Many canine neck regions are being damaged by constant yanking. It is often a knee jerk response; where we aren’t even thinking about what we are doing. I see folks walking their dog and talking on their phone inflict some almighty yanks when they aren’t even looking at their dog. The dog is lagging, maybe relieving themselves or just sniffing and they receive the yank.

We need to consider our dog’s necks. Just because they have a neck does not mean that we should throw a chain, collar or rope around it and yank them into behaving. It boggles my mind that yank type training is still out there. But the sad part is that many people just do it because. That’s just what people think that we should do.

The neck is a complicated myriad of components that is hidden under a coat of many different colors and textures. There are long thin, short stocky, near non existent to the big beefy type necks. All contain the same bits and pieces inside but in different shapes and sizes.

Our dog’s neck can be easily damaged. It is our job to protect our dogs and do what is best and right for them. The neck is a big part that needs our protection.

What a pain in the neck.

As I watched the women ahead of me, I cringed.  The little dog with them was receiving collar corrections for pulling; lots and lots of them.  "That poor dog's neck," I thought to myself.  I thought it to myself until Elsa and I caught up to them.  Then I shared my thoughts out loud.  Of course it didn't go over well, it seldom does.   The woman puffed her self up in defense of her acts, typical.  That was several months ago; but I see the same thing happening on a regular basis. 

Just yesterday at a different park, there was an adorable little miniature doodle being dragged and yanked around by his neck.  As they passed us he hopped around wanting to see Elsa which made his owner yank on him.  People just don't think about dog necks.  We humans have been dragging our dogs around by them for so long that it seems like a perfectly natural thing to do, right?

Lately I've been reading articles from trainers and Vets. saying that the easy walk type harnesses are bad.  "Dang, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't."   I throw my hands in the air when I read them; how on earth are regular dog Mom and Dads to know what to do?  Honestly.

As far as I am concerned, a harness is far safer than a collar.  A body can take much more abuse than a neck.  Have you ever given your dog hug around the neck and then your dogs coughs?  Dog necks are far more sensitive than we consider.  Humans have been yanking dogs around by their neck for so long that it is just what we do.  But now we need to stop. 

There are people who love to be right all the time; they will always find something wrong with everything.  These type people want to be the ones who saved everyone while they stand up on their pedestal.  By claiming that harnesses are now bad for our dogs, we do a disservice to our dogs.  Many may read these articles and go back to dragging their dogs around by the neck again.  Collars are for hanging ID tags on and even then they should be removed in secure areas like home or when playing with other dogs. 

I do not want to see on a dog:

A choke chain/collar
A prong/pinch collar
An extension leash
Collar of any type inflicting neck corrections

Nothing is perfect, no dogs are perfect, people, trainers, leashes or collars.  The evolution of moving away from the neck as an area to attach a yanking device to is a good one.  Of course as new harnesses come out I will have a look at them.  I love trying out new equipment.  For now I am happy with a couple of different harnesses that I use. 

Hmmm, maybe time to create my own human/canine connection system.  It's a thought. 

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