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Ask a Vet: Make safety your pet’s fashion statement

POSTED: May 11, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Fashion is very important to some folks. If you’ve seen my collection of T-shirts, you may feel either I am one of these people, or the antithesis thereof.

This same variation spills over into our pets as well.

Take the dog collar. True, it can be a fashion statement such as the pink, jewel-encrusted collars you can purchase in Beverly Hills. But usually, collars fit nature better than fashion and form follows function.

The main goal of a collar for your dog is to give an anchor to you. Either in the literal sense via a leash, or as a means of identification with tags or name plates. Today, we consider the connectivity and control offered by varying collar types.

Overall, the best means to control your dog is training. No collar will work if the dog has no idea what’s going on.

Puppies in their first collars often scratch and bite at it. And if you’ve never had a collar and leash on and you’re an adult dog, a collar looks a lot like a noose.

But once your dog is familiar with the concept, you have options. The classic collar still works for the majority of dogs. But what if your dog is a puller or gets too excited on a walk to remember his manners? For this I recommend the head collar, or “gentle leader” type. This fits similarly to the way a bridle fits on a horse’s head. The leash connects to the bottom under the chin. If your dog pulls, the attachment results in his face turning back toward you to help grab his attention.

Dogs with certain medical concerns may need a harness to minimize pressure on the neck and throat.

Then there are the collar types I usually discourage. Slip collars literally work like a noose, and in a stubborn pup can cause harm. The same is true of so-called “pinch” collars, which have metal pins to poke into the neck when pressure is applied. Effective? Maybe. Painful? Sometimes.

And shock collars? Possibly effective, certainly painful. I prefer training with treats. Consider these options and select your dog’s style.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.


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