Pulling the leash: consequences for the dog’s health

A common problem for many people who take their dog for a walk is the pet’s habit of pulling on the leash. It is quite common when out on the street to see dogs that are almost choking on the urge to pull their owner. It is important that your four-legged friends learn not to pull on the leash, not only because of the discomfort that can arise when going for a walk, but also because the pressure of the collar on the dog’s neck can generate serious health problems.

The strain of the neck when pulling the leash

When the dog pulls the leash, the collar tightens his neck. This is a very delicate area full of nerve endings, glands important for your health, arteries … it is also the area of ​​the esophagus and trachea. Prolonged pressure on these areas can damage them, causing problems for our dog’s health.

This is the first reason why it is recommended to use a harness instead of a leash. When the dog pulls the collar while wearing a harness , the pressure will fall on the chest and sternum, which are bones and not two sensitive and delicate areas.

Back problems due to tugging

Dogs who pull on the leash almost always report back problems. The pressure of the collar on the vertebrae can damage the rest of the spine. Almost all dogs that cannot walk without generating tension, maintaining a forced position due to the thrust, have in fact contractures in the back and other muscular problems .

If in addition to the dog’s thrusts, owners also tend to give a few tugs to call the dog, the pressure of the collar on the neck will directly affect the nerve endings. As we have said, these are located in the neck and branch out throughout the column. All this will generate a cramp that will cross the entire spinal column and branch into the various extremities.

Hernias or crushing of the vertebrae may also appear, which sometimes causes neurological problems.

Hormonal problems

The neck is a very sensitive area that includes some hormonal glands, such as the thyroid. The momentary or constant pressure of these glands can alter their proper functioning, causing serious problems for the dog’s health. In addition, problems can also affect the lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems, as well as autoimmune diseases.

Other issues

There are also other problems that can arise from the bad habit of pulling the leash. The most noticeable are respiratory problems and chronic cough. Because the trachea is constantly being pressed and forced, when the dog pulls he cannot breathe normally. It may even happen that the brain receives less oxygen than it should. The trachea can even be squeezed.

Eye problems are also frequent, especially those related to increased eye pressure .

Finally, even the dog’s skin can suffer damage: irritation, pain, wounds or false skin allergies due to the continuous rubbing of the collar on the neck.

Behavior problems

Some owners say the act of pulling the leash is a behavior problem. However, they do not take into account that many behavior problems can actually result from these tugs. As we have seen, there are many health problems that can appear in these cases: contractures, hernias, breathing difficulties, hormonal disorders … all these disorders cause pain or discomfort for the animal.

Consequently, a dog that is in pain may not have a good temper . Aggression towards people or dogs is often due to pain. Bad mood, irritability… these are all behaviors that can derive from physical pain.

It often happens that dogs who destroy the house, who do not obey or who do not allow themselves to be touched are suffering from some kind of physical discomfort or pain that they cannot relieve. In some cases, pain can be at the root of even a dog barking incessantly.

A dog that pulls the leash cannot go out or relate to other animals normally. He cannot perform normal greeting rituals, and other dogs will react badly in front of him. It can only be simple fights, however the relationship with other dogs can be totally deteriorated, causing aggressive behavior towards other dogs.

Choke collars

What has been said so far applies to normal collars. However, the health problems listed can multiply when our dog wears a studded collar, chain, lace, martingale or an electric or anti-bark collar . In fact, these are prohibited in some parts of Italy, as only by wearing them the dog feels pain.

With this type of tools, in fact, the dog does not need to shoot to harm himself. They are specially designed to hurt simply by wearing them  and their use is strongly contraindicated.

A dog pulling on a leash with a fixed collar can end up with one of the problems listed above. A dog wearing a choke collar will certainly have them sooner or later.

Teaching your dog to walk on a leash without pulling is not difficult . If you don’t know how or can’t do it on your own, contact a positive dog trainer (who doesn’t use choke collars and does not educate by force of jerks), and he can train your pet. Pulling on the leash is a bad habit that can lead your dog straight to the vet.

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