We are all used to seeing collars on dogs. It has been around for a very long time, harnesses/braces have only become more popular in recent years (important side note - unfortunately not all braces are good. Read here how to make the right choice when choosing a brace). There are many different types of collars, and when you go to the store, you can see a variety of things before your eyes, because it seems that there is a solution for every behavior problem in the form of a collar. Is your dog pulling on the leash? Barbed collar. Is your dog aggressive towards other dogs? Noose strap! It's hard for me to even write about this because what is done to dogs using these methods is horrible to say the least, and I really hope that after reading this post and the references, every dog owner will think a little bigger in the future and consider different ways to keep their dog safe both in training and on walks.
Scientists have long worked to find out the possible dangers and consequences of using a collar, and studies have proven that the risk of injury to a dog is very high. The severity of the adverse effects varies among different breeds and sizes of dog, but unfortunately, there is no collar that is risk-free.
The collar is suitable, for example, for everyday wear on a dog in the garden, if you want to use it as a so-called security element, so that if the dog should get out of the garden, the owner's contact information can be obtained from the collar. However, it is not suitable for walking and training, because even a weak pull exerts force on the dog's neck, which can permanently damage the dog's health as a result of continuous/sudden exposure. Both sudden pulling on the leash and cumulative continuous pulling on the leash have a harmful effect on the dog. Which of the consequences is more serious still needs further investigation by scientists.
We've probably all seen dogs wearing collars and pulling on the leash during a walk. But have you also observed what happens to the dog's body position at that moment or wondered what effect it has on his neck and health?
The structure of a dog's neck is not very different from that of a human, and just like humans, neck injuries in dogs can have serious consequences. It often comes as a surprise to pet owners that the hidden cause of injuries can be a collar.
When the dog pulls on the leash, it exerts a great force on the throat and, in turn, on vital structures in the neck area, such as the trachea, blood vessels, thyroid gland, cervical vertebrae and the spinal cord passing through the cervical vertebrae and the nerves coming from it.
The trachea, which ensures air exchange between the lungs and the outside environment, can be damaged by excessive pressure. However, it is often not a big deal if the dog coughs, gasps for air or experiences a feeling of suffocation while pulling on the leash.
The collar also affects the blood vessels in this area, which ensure blood supply to the brain, eyes, and the whole body. One of the consequences of excessive pressure on the blood vessels of the neck can be an increase in the intraocular pressure, which can permanently cause vision loss.
Studies have reported that thyroid gland damage has been observed in people involved in traffic accidents, which has been associated with seat belt trauma, and there is reason to believe that the dog's thyroid gland, which produces hormones for the functioning of the body's metabolism, has an important function in maintaining body temperature and in the regulation of heart work.
A sudden strong force on the neck can also cause pathological changes in the position of the cervical vertebrae and damage to the muscles and nerves in the neck area, which can lead to a decrease in the range of motion of the neck, pain and, in the worst cases, paralysis or death.
Unfortunately, a sudden pull on the leash is still a very common way to correct a dog's behavior; however, what is less common is the understanding of what this behavior causes the dog in terms of pain and the risk of permanent health damage. If the training methods you know only teach the dog by tugging on the collar, take a break for your pet's well-being and think about what is important to you - do you really want to risk the dog's health and well-being? If you have found the answer to this question, find a trainer who can teach you and your dog without a collar. Believe me, it is possible. If you need help, write to konsultatsioon@kullakuu.ee.
When choosing braces, you also need to be aware of how to make the right choice and what to keep in mind. Read our post on choosing a brace/harness: https://www.facebook.com/kullakuu/posts/2492421347526083
You can read the research that formed the basis of the post:
Carter, A., McNally, D., Roshier, A. (2020) Canine collars: an investigation of collar type and the forces applied to a simulated neck model. Veterinary Record Published Online First: 17 April 2020. doi: 10.1136/vr.105681
Hunter, A., Blake, S., De Godoy, F. (2019) Pressure and force on the canine neck when exercised using a collar and leash. Veterinary and Animal Science, vol 8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vas.2019.100082
Other sources used:
Ettinger, S.J., Feldman, E. C., Cote, E. (2017) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine Diseases of the Dog and Cat 8th edition.

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