Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon.
Roger Salmon.

Stop pulling. This is a subject which must involve the vast number of dog owners but is very difficult to control.

Dogs pull as natural reflex against restraint, possibly driven by an enthusiasm to arrive at a journeys end and then to be released.

Walking has immense health benefits for people, research has shown that as little as half an hour per day of brisk exercise has a dramatic positive impact upon the human cardiovascular system.

The obvious benefits to the dogs in health and socialisation are well known.

Choke chains as promoted by the late Barbara Woodhouse apparently worked well on television but had no lasting benefits and put harsh pressure on the delicate structures of the throat and spine.

There are still some trainers that advocate choke chains and in North America it is common to see choke chains with inward facing spikes that cause exceptional pain and even cruel penetration of the skin.

Every dog needs to wear a collar if only to carry his ID tag and the wider the collar the more comfortable, however it must not be so slack as to allow the dog to slip the collar in an urgent situation.

One way to check is be able to get three fingers comfortably between the collar and the dogs neck and tighten the collar when a stressful situation is likely to occur such as going to the vets.

If the dog pulls on any collar he is in danger of self inflicting damage to his cervical vertebra so damage can occur with any collar and particularly with choke chains but there are alternatives available head collars.

The great advantage of head collars is that as the dog pulls the head is automatically turned to one side, hence discouraging the dog to move forward.

Harnesses are very comfortable for the dog as the restraint is spread over the whole of the chest, however this does not stop the dog from pulling. Whereas the head collar deviates the force of pull.

Tips for training dogs on a lead are numerous but it is important to not overexcite the dog prior to the walk, teach him to sit and wait with the means of rewards and briefly halt when he starts to pull, moving forward only when the lead is slack.