Collar and Leash Safety

When used incorrectly, collars and leashes can seriously damage your dog's health and well being. Because of this, we encourage proper training if your dog needs to be restricted to a certain area or boundary, restrained on a lead in busy places, or is prone to running away when not secured. Please stop using "choke" and "prong" chains and collars, they elicit pain and fear. Also, never use any type of electric shock device. There are much safer and more effective harness and restraint options.

Front-pull, gentle-lead harness

A front-pull, gentle-lead harness prevents neck and spinal injury.

As a guardian, we are responsible for our dog's behavior. If a dog is prone to chasing cyclists or dislikes other dogs, using a gentle-lead harness (pictured) or a gentle-lead head-collar (see below) provides control while allowing the dog to breath and accept treats. In addition, gentle-lead head-collars can prevent unwanted excitement induced behaviors such as barking, jumping, biting and pulling. The distinctive gentle-lead design is based upon canine physiology. It fosters pack type social behavior, while providing gentle, maternalistic encouragement.

Collars should only be used for identification purposes, providing placement for the various identification tags required by law in your area. If you do use a collar and your animal is frequently off leash, you can use a ‘break away’ style collar. Break away designs release when a dog gets into a difficult situation, such as a snag or a hangup, where a typical collar could lead to choking or hanging. Also, avoid retractable, heavy and/or long leashes. These enable neck injuries resulting from pulling and jerking.


Front-pull, gentle-lead head-collar.

Anatomy of a front-pull, gentle-lead head-collar.
  1. Nose loop. Dogs are naturally pack animals with a highly structured social order. The pack leader will demonstrate his position by gently but firmly grasping a subordinate's muzzle in his mouth. This is a non-aggressive but clear signal as to who is the boss. The gentle-leader's nose loop encircles your dog's muzzle in the same manner, letting him know in his own language that you are his leader.
  2. Gentle-leader. Gentle-leader features two soft nylon straps. The collar portion fits high at the top of the neck, and the nose loop fits loosely and comfortably across the base of the muzzle. Each strap has a distinct and important effect. A ‘correct fit’ is important to achieve the desired result. Please read the instructions carefully.
  3. Neck strap. Puppies will melt in relaxation when their mother picks them up at the back of the neck. Gentle leader applies pressure to the back of the neck rather than the front of the throat, working with your dog's natural relaxation instinct with an amazing calming effect This means that the gentle pressure at the back of the neck causes the dog to pull backward, not forward, which corrects leash-pulling forever.

Injury caused as a direct result of the trauma and stress resulting from choke, shock, and prong collar usage is easily avoided. Neck and spinal injuries caused by sudden jerking or pulling (by dog or human) while wearing a choke collar or chain are common. A dog should absolutely never be tied up in a yard with a collar around their neck. Never. Ever. Injuries from this situation are all too common. A dog's ability to respond to everyday stressors is diminished as a consequence of constant pressure placed on the neck, thyroid gland and windpipe by choke or prong chains and collars. 

Common, Easily Preventable Injuries

Here are a few examples of the most common types of injuries that result from choke, shock, and prong style collars, and from leashes attached to leashes.

"Invisible" Hazards

You can easily avoid putting your companion animal into a state of perpetual traumatic stress. Electric shock devices and collars should be outlawed! These torturous devices produce an electrical charge at varying levels of intensity (supposedly to correct undesirable behavior). The science is conclusive, EMF's (electro-magnetic-frequency) and electric shock cause a wide range of health problems. Fear, aggressive behavioral issues and physical pain are typical results of exposure to electric shock. Random, unpredictable electrical charges to the neck and throat area damage the thyroid gland. This negatively impacts the endocrine system (which is responsible for stress management). How would you react to random electric shocks to your neck at varying intensities? Let's save the discussion about the humanity of putting an electric collar on a living being for later.

Hidden, underground, or "invisible" fences have two basic design configurations:

  1. An underground wire is used to delineate the boundary area perimeter.
  2. A transmitted radio (RF) wave is used to create a circular shaped EMF field as the boundary. It is important to note that this so-called invisible field exists for all living beings located within its perimeter. EMF research warns that exposure to any man-made (unnatural) electromagnetic frequencies poses a potentially significant health risk. Due to the political climate, and the complexity of interactions involved in EMF research, definitive and specific warnings are not yet provided for all but the most dangerous radiation frequencies (such as x-rays). Currently the experts best advice is for prudent avoidance.

The way these systems work is, they emit a warning sound (from the collar) as the dog as approaches the underground wire perimeter or the radius line of an RF system. Should the dog cross the boundary after the sound is emitted — the collar will activate an electric shock (deterrent). Some manufacturers claim this is a ‘harmless’ shock. In truth however, electronic fences result in the same harmful effects as shock collars (explained above). By design, a behavioral training program that utilizes electric shock elicits two specific responses, fear and pain. Moreover, some dogs have learned to actually be afraid to go outside, especially in their own yards. Fear and pain is used for control purposes by some impatient or uneducated individuals. On the surface, the domineering approach to control may seem quick and easy, even logical, but this is over-simplified thinking, an incomplete analysis. Incorporating negative emotional responses for training purposes is inappropriate and should never be used. There are immeasurably more intelligent and more effective methods for achieving success in education.

Simple, Safe Restraint

You have two excellent options:

  1. Front-pull or 'gentle lead' harnesses are our favorite.
  2. Harness with top pull - avoid pain and injury associated with neck pull.

Tip: If you are introducing your dog to a new restraint system (something new and different to them) take your time. Do it gradually with patience, encouragement and compassion. For example, encourage your dog to play, chew on a treat, or interact with you while wearing the new restraint (or they may be tempted to chew or try to remove it). Gradually build up the amount of time wearing it until they feel safe and comfortable.