Understanding anything makes us naturally more conscious and enables us to make sound decisions and choices about pretty much anything and everything. But when it comes to our fur-babies, many will just take the word of anyone in the business of pet care and roll with it, but at what cost?

As humans navigating such a busy and demanding world, where instant gratification is always but the click of a button away, we have sadly, lost our innate ability to really connect with and understand what our senses and intuition is telling us. We rely on the confirmation of others to approve our decisions, we look for acceptance that we’re doing the right thing. We rely on ‘experts’, when often, even they get it wrong sometimes, because after all is said and done, they are just human like you and I. However, it’s no secret that many experts have a vested interest in the products they promote and sell which may have absolutely nothing to do with the health or longevity of your dog!

We’ve all been there at one time or another, I know I have. Where I’ve been sold a product based on excellent marketing and promotion and purchased it in good faith, only to find out that the product was detrimental to the health of one of my animals, this is certainly true of the pet food industry in particular. Fortunately for me and my cat, the late, great and sorely missed, Simba, I worked out the issue in the nick of time! He lived to the ripe old age of 18yrs, passing just one week before his 19th birthday. Had I not have been vigilant and made the connection between his deteriorating health and the diet he was on, a diet that is popular among pet owner’s, he would have lost his life 5yrs sooner. When you adore your fur-babies as much as we as a nation do, even one more day makes the difference doesn’t it?!

We know it’s law in the UK for dogs to wear a collar and tags with a telephone number and name as the minimum requirement, in addition to a microchip. Both are useful in times of those free-spirited dogs prone to opportunistic wandering, the spooked and accidental escapes, as well as in the event that some despicable person sought to steal a dog for purposes that make my blood boil, my heart sink and leave my faith in humanity questionable.

It’s also no news that there is a plethora of collars and training aids designed for the owner to take more control over the animal. Some of the designs are more thoughtful towards dogs than others and some just downright cruel!

Regardless of your choice of collar or training aid, how many of us stop to think about the delicate neck area of a dog? How many of us consider the impact of these devices once on the dog?

Irritation from materials is one thing to consider, but aside from that, the neck of a dog is a very delicate area.

Anatomically speaking, the dogs’ neck is quite similar to the structure of a human neck, complete with the delicate thyroid gland that sits nicely in the front of the throat, in line with where most collars sit when worn.

So let’s take a closer look at the layout and structure.

Image source: www.Lifeinharmony/se

At the very core are the skeletal bones, the cervical vertebrae. Wrapped around this arteries, veins and various important glands, such as the lymph nodes, responsible for fighting infections and keeping the immune response in tip-top condition; the thyroid gland responsible for regulating metabolism which closely interacts and messages other glands around the body, such as the pituitary gland in the brain, responsible for most hormone production and release; the mandibular gland responsible for saliva production and various enzymes that support digestion; the trachea essential for carrying air directly to and from the lungs, and the oesophagus responsible for transporting food and nutrients to the delicate digestive system. Now I know that ‘delicate’ isn’t a word that some would use to describe their dog’s eating habits, but trust me on this, the system is a delicate and intricate layout of tissues and cells that allow your dog to digest and convert that food into energy, which is then metabolised by the thyroid and other systems in the body. The damage done to this delicate area when dogs pull on leads, or owners yank on leads could be devastating to the longevity of your dog.

Believe it or not, a collar and lead/leash, call it what you will, is as unnatural as it gets for a dog.  When faced with such equipment, a dog’s natural instinct (until it’s natural behaviour is augmented otherwise) is to invest all its energy into pulling using the upper body muscle, thus putting more intense strain and tension on its neck. Owners yanking dogs back, stopping abruptly (certainly in the case of retractable leads) or using more severe methods of restraint in other forms of collars are unwittingly causing repetitive injury to the vital organs and systems that run through the neck. This is highly unpleasant for the dog and potentially dangerous and even life-threatening in extreme cases. So what’s the solution?

Well, having done some research,  a collar that is made of a soft neoprene fabric would meet the requirements of holding a name tag, and a well-fitted harness for walks, but not just any old harness. Again, some consideration needs to be given to the areas in direct contact with the harnesses structure. For example, a harness with a strap that lay directly across the front of the neck, connecting to the main body of the harness will be potentially putting a strain on the neck area or at least cause some irritation as it rubs through movement when the dog is walking. The best harnesses are the ones that don’t touch the neck area at all. Front clipping harnesses, giving the neck and shoulder area as much space as possible, are the best and kindest variety. Now, I realise that some dogs are more spirited than others, but that doesn’t mean they are not entitled to the same care and attention a more compliant dog would receive. I hope you will agree. What it does mean is that you will have to work on training your dog to heel. In addition to the harness, you will need to get a shock absorbing lead to attach to the harness.

My research uncovered a wonderful fabric called Neoprene. Neoprene is a wonderful spongey fabric, like that used in wetsuits. It’s strong enough to withstand the rough and tumble of active dogs, yet gentle enough for delicate neck areas.

Their kindness to both dog and owner is what encouraged me to offer the rather wonderful and aptly named ‘Comfort Collection’. 

So, who am I to give you such information and recommendations?

Well, I’m not here to make a fast buck. In fact, if you can find the same kind of walking kit elsewhere, then I’m happy too! As long as your dog is comfortable and happy, that’s all we hope for.

I hope this information has been useful, educational and inspires you to look at your own choices in neck and walk wear for your puppin. Perhaps even compelling you to make any necessary changes that benefit your dog’s comfort and welfare.

Warmest wishes, woofs & wags,

Mia-Louise, Lara-Lou & Beau Blue