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A serious problem in dogs that is often ignored

A serious problem in dogs that is often ignored

Health and Longevity Course for Dogs             Chapter 9

Something has been causing me a great deal of concern for as long as I can remember.

Every day, I see dogs, pulling and choking on the leash attached to either a choke chain, martingale, prong or even a shock collar.

I believe that most of these dogs are loved and well cared for; it is just that these people didn't have the opportunity to learn how dog collars are common causes of neck injuries and how often they are the root of the health problems of their dogs.


Just the other day, my family and I were waiting for a ferry to travel to Tofino, one of Pax's most favourite places, a true dog paradise. Dogs run on miles of pristine beaches with no end in sight and no leash laws.

Naturally, the ferry passengers travel with the dogs. As we were waiting to board, I saw a lovely Weimaraner walking by our car dragging his people along like a sled dog. His choke chain was cutting deep into the flesh on his neck, and a surprising memory of dumplings came to mind.

My European mother used to cut dumplings using a thread. She would encircle the salami-shaped dumpling, cross the two ends of the thread at the top, and pull until it cut through the dumpling, making a slice. The dog’s neck looked exactly like a dumpling just before the thread cut through. The collar was cutting deep in the skin.

I took a deep breath, gathered my courage, and said "hi" to the owners. I was lucky because they were very friendly and open to a conversation about the damaging effect of collars. I also learned that two of their friends just recently recommended my website!

Your dog can't tell you

Over the years, I have had countless conversations like this one. Sometimes, I manage to make a difference and at other times fail because not everyone is open to a conversation. But, a dog can’t tell their human that they're getting hurt by a collar. I can, and this is why I will always try.

What every dog lover needs to know
Common challenges with avoiding injuries 
  • Many people are completely unaware of the serious damage collars cause. Some guardians assume that the occasional use of a collar in a pulling dog is okay, but it is not unless your dog NEVER pulls. Sometimes it only takes one jerk to cause serious damage
  • Using a harness with a leash attached at the back does not always prevent neck injuries or pulling. Such harnesses do not solve the problem. The ideal harness is well fitted and has a front clip located below the front portion of the neck on the chest bone in addition to the back clip. 
  • Many harness designs cause armpit chaffing and muscle pinching trauma because they hang too low or too close to the armpit. It is super important to choose the right harness, and there are not many that fit well.
  • I see some people making a price-based decision because they do not know what the right design should look like.
  • Some people try to teach their dogs to heel by tugging or jerking on the collar, which can cause more damage. Despite many trainers' recommendations, I can’t agree with such corrections for medical reasons.
  • A harness should never stay on if your dog is having off-leash time. Take the harness off with the leash whenever your dog is running free to avoid armpit chafing and muscle pinching. A harness can also get caught easily on trails or in the forest and removing it prevents injuries.

6 steps to protect your dog from collar injuries

If you have been using a choke chain, prong, martingale, or shock collar, I hope you will not beat yourself up. I have been a vet for 30 years, and it is easy for me to see what leads to problems. In contrast, I would not know how to install electrical wiring for a house and do other jobs in which you may be an expert at.

Not knowing is not your fault; it is a part of life, and I hope this article will help raise awareness on this important issue.

Here are six essential steps to prevent collar injuries:

  1. Use a double-clip harness and do not attach the leash to your dog's harness at the back.
  2. Choose a harness that gives your dog enough space around the shoulder/armpit area.
  3. Make sure that the harness is well padded.
  4. Ensure that you choose the right size.
  5. Work on teaching your dog how to heel and not pull (this requires a lot of patience). Never jerk on your dog’s leash to make corrections. Your dog’s health is more important than someone’s training method.
  6. Use a shock-absorbing Gentle Leash to reduce the impact of pulling.





Help spread #DrDobias #GentleLeash Mission!

If you find the above information helpful or have been a big fan of the Perfect Fit Harness and Gentle Leash, we would love you to share this information with your friends!

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM


Health & Longevity Course Chapters

To read the entire Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs click the links below:

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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