I’ve always used collars on my dogs, except when our Basenji could slither out of hers and we used a harness. But the other day I came across an article by dog trainer Emily Larlham, titled Is It Harmful to Attach a Leash to Your Dog’s Neck? and that link goes to the article. She draws on some very interesting research.
Here is her argument in a nutshell. This quote is taken from the article I just linked to.
Attaching a leash to a dog’s collar can indeed cause physical harm to your dog if the dog were ever to hit the end of the leash or pull on the leash. This is because the neck of a dog is full of very delicate and important physiology that keeps your dog healthy. The thyroid gland for example is located in the front of the neck below the larynx. Just one incident of pulling on a collar could possibly cause severe damage to your dog’s health in the same way as damage to your own neck could cause lasting health issues for you. Why would you take that risk? The only real benefit of having your dog wear a collar rather than a harness is that it is faster and easier for the dog’s handler to put on for a walk.
The long and thoughtful article goes on to discuss (and cite studies) neck injuires, ear issues, eye issues, hypnothyroidism, problems in the forelimbs, behavior problems, and more. Then she discusses pulling on leash and its ramifications. Excellent article!
She has a YouTube video showing how she clicker-trained her puppy, who was very sensitive to being touched, to accept the harness being put on:
One of the comments on the article I’d read mentioned the Easy Walk type of harness. It comes in several colors and various sizes, and was quite inexpensive, too. Clicking on the image will take you to the correct Amazon page.