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We learned how small adjustments could mean a big difference for our dogs....

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Why a harness and long lead?

Like many people I used to use slip leads – easy to pop on and off, just over the dog’s head and we could be away.  I was not aware of the research that has taken place, this has encouraged me to switch to harnesses for my dogs, to which a long lead (minimum 3 metres) is attached.  If you too, after reading the research below are keen to switch please contact me. 

Back and Neck Injuries - Just one incident of pulling or running fast to the end of the lead could potentially cause neck injuries.   Such as bruising, headaches, crushed trachea, damage to larynx, whiplash and fractured vertebrae. In a study conducted by Anders Hallgren psychologist and animal behaviourist, he found that 91% of the dogs that had been pulled hard on the lead, or had themselves pulled hard, had back and/or neck problems. In many cases there were also various behaviour issues relating to these dogs.

Eye Issues - In 2006, the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association published a research paper entitled: “Effects of the Application of Neck Pressure by a Collar of Harness on Intraocular Pressure (the cavity behind the eye) in Dogs”. The paper concluded that based on the results of the study, dogs with a weak or thin cornea, glaucoma, or conditions for which an increase in IOP could be harmful should wear a harness instead of a collar, especially during exercise or activity.

Hypothyroidism- The collar rests on the neck in the area of the thyroid gland.  As Dr. Peter Dobias says in his article, “This gland gets severely traumatized whenever a dog pulls on the leash, it becomes inflamed and consequently “destroyed” by the body’s own immune system when it tries to remove the inflamed thyroid cells.  The symptoms may be low energy, weight gain, skin problems, hair loss and a tendency to ear infections and organ failure.”

Malfunction of the nervous system in the forelimbs- Another health issue that Dr. Dobias points out in his article on collars is the possibility of malfunction of the nervous system in the forelimbs.  He states, “Excessive paw licking and foreleg lameness can also be related to your dog’s collar.  Lead pulling impinges the nerves supplying the front legs.  This can lead to an abnormal sensation in the feet and dogs may start licking their feet.  These dogs are often misdiagnosed as allergic and all that needs to be done is to remove the collar and treat the neck injury.”

Behavioural Problems- It is commonly believed that in all animals with a brain, behaviour is linked to health. In Anders Hallgren study published in “Animal Behaviour Consultants Newsletter” in 1992, he found correlations between injury and behaviour.  Anders writes “A common cause of behavioural troubles in dogs is disease or pain.  According to those who work with problem dogs, the most usual source of pain and disease is damage to the muscles and bones.”  Anders study was focused on back injuries and it shows that there is a correlation between physical health and behavioural problems.  Indeed, out of 400 dogs studied, 79% of the aggressive dogs had back problems and of the reserved/shy dogs 69% did.  

To see a pamphlet with more explanations on why your dog should wear a harness - please click here. 

Why a long lead

Your lead should not be shorter then 3 meters. Remember, you can shorten a long lead, you cannot lengthen a short one.

Out on a walk your dog is constantly using his body language to communicate: with you: can we go this way? what now?  I’m so happy,  I‘m tired ...; with his environment: what’s this? where does that noise come from? ...; with other dogs: I mean no harm, I’m friendly, can we play? please leave me alone, be polite ...

Our dogs have a vast repertoire of calming signals and polite rules of communication. Holding them on a short lead and/or having them walk to heel, handicaps them in the way they can deal with the world around them. 

The advantage of unrestricted communication is that your dog can “tell” you when he wants to avoid a situation that might be too difficult or confronting for him.  “Listen” to your dog and be a good dog parent, provide security, by allowing distance. Curve around whatever he wants to stay away from. 

Whether it is a person, another dog or an object, give him the time to curve around it at his comfortable distance until he realises it is not an issue.  Always anticipate, do not wait for your dog to be reactive.

A healthy dog is a curious dog.  Curiosity is the natural stimulant to grow new braincells and have many connections in between the cells.  So give him the chance to be curious and keep his brain healthy, by sauntering and allowing him to walk from left to right on your path.   Stand still and wait for him when he wants to have a sniff or just look around.  A long lead will allow and encourage your dog’s natural curiosity and will stimulate his brain to develop.   So for puppies to old dogs, curiosity is what keeps the brain young and healthy. To see our brochure on why your dog NEEDS a long lead and so do you please click here and open the PDF brochure.

Why a Haqihana harness?

Careful scientific study of the harness has helped form the Haqihana design, which is adjustable in five places, ensuring optimal adaptability of the harness for dogs of all sizes and morphology.  

Each Haqihana harness is handmade with great attention to detail in Italy. Both safety and comfort are of essence and all parts are sewn with secure stitching.  The webbing is made from a high tenacity, spun-dyed nylon that guarantees colour and resistance for a minimum of five years. 

The harness dose not cause pain or restrict the dog's movements, nor does it cause friction on the dogs skin.

The design, dimensions and position of the harness on the dog have all been studied in depth to guarantee maximum comfort in all situations. Even when pulling or jerking, or being restrained, pressure is on the dog's thorax only.   To see Haqihana harnesses please click here and open the PDF brochure.

Haqihana is the only harness endorsed and used by Turid Rugaas, so if you feel the time is right for your dog to have a harness please contact us.


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