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How to Handle Your Dog (Choosing the right leash for your dogs)

 How to Handle Your Dog (Choosing the right leash for your dogs)

Dog Training

Choke chains and ‘leash-corrections’ (the ‘jerk-and-puke’ method) were standards in dog training for years, and some old-timers still use them.  But don’t get talked into this style of learning—it’s too risky, and there are plenty of successful, humane alternatives.

Before discussing dog training, though, let’s consider equipment.  Dogs need identification.  A collar and tags are one choice, but some tiny dogs can’t wear all that heavy jewelry (microchip number, name, rabies, license).  Tattoos and microchips are options.  Personally, I microchip all my pets, even if they also wear ID tags.  Tags and collars can be lost or removed, but a microchip (or tattoo) is forever.  Who knows, some day we may be able to track dogs using GPS implants!

Let’s start small.  Dogs under twenty pounds should probably be leashed by a harness, not a collar.  It’s far safer for those delicate throats, especially as dogs age, when they become increasingly prone to trachea collapse.  (If your micro-pup is too small for ordinary harnesses, try one designed for bunnies or ferrets.)    Some trainers claim harnesses make it harder to teach dog obedience –especially loose-leash walking—but I’ve never seen dogs fail to learn, if your teaching is clear. Besides, if a dog as light as twenty pounds can pull you off your feet just because he’s wearing a harness, perhaps you're safer asking someone stronger to walk that dog.Be careful about collars on any size dog, however, if he pulls so hard he chokes himself, or if he already has trachea problems.  Always err on the side of safety.

Safety does include you, too.  If a strong dog is pulling you over, get help from a positive-style trainer.  Or, perhaps you can control a ‘puller’ simply by using a front-clip harness (the ‘Sense-ation,’ ‘Easy Walk,’ or similar brand), or a bridle-style harness (‘Halti,’ ‘Gentle Leader,’ or the ‘Snoot-Loop’ for flat-faced breeds).  Even with excellent dog training, one of these tools may prove crucial while learning.  If the front-clip style works, but is too expensive, you can improvise with a traditional harness (shaped like an ‘H’), attaching pup’s leash at the metal ring in front of his chest, where the fabric straps meet in a ‘V’.  As for the no-pull-style that tightens under the legs, this may work marginally at first, but quickly loses effect.  One more product that inflicts pain without results—why bother?

Choke chains just aren’t necessary.  Even scary-looking prong collars are safer.  Prongs may be a last resort if your best efforts fail, but these also are dangerous if the dog doesn’t stop pulling.  Dogs have punctured their throats by pulling against prongs.  At best, prongs hurt—that’s how they work—so avoid them if at all possible.  If after all this, for some reason you are still determined to use the choke, at least be certain to place it properly—it should hang in the shape of a ‘P’, not ‘9’, so it can release.  Otherwise, it tightens to choke, then stays there, strangling your dog.

Teach him properly, and Fido need never choke, hack, wheeze, or strangle to learn top-notch manners.  You should NEVER have to yank, injuring his neck, for him to get the message.  Equip him safely, then find a quality dog training method that respects your dog’s throat, and you’ll both breathe—and swallow—easier.