Harness or collar – which is more appropriate for the species? A matter that divides the dog world. But it is more than just a question of faith. Because whether you and your dog will be happier with a dog harness or the best shock collars for pitbulls depends on many different factors.
Purpose of harness and collar
Both collars and harnesses have the same purpose: combined with a leash, they give us the ability to guide and control our dog and keep him away from danger. Depending on the character and temperament of the dog and the handler, not inconsiderable forces are thus often exerted on the leash, harness and collar. And this is exactly the crux of the matter.
A collar, as the name implies, is placed around the dog’s neck. When the leash is pulled, the force acts directly on the animal’s neck and throat – where important organs such as the thyroid, larynx, trachea and blood vessels are located. This gives the owner the opportunity to exert more force on the dog – but at the same time increases the risk that the dog will be injured. Recent research has shown that long-term force on the spine and thyroid gland can cause chronic inflammation.
A harness acts on the chest and back of the quadruped. The force is thus better distributed, the daily walk becomes smoother and less troublesome for the dog. However, a harness that does not fit can interfere with the quadruped’s shoulder blade and its natural method of locomotion.
The impact on the harness or collar should be as small as possible. This is only possible if owner and dog can communicate through other impulses than pulling on the leash – and requires good training, especially for more active four-legged friends. Whether a harness and collar are effective depends on your dog’s training and your own prudence. If every walk becomes a test of strength, it often helps to invest in a good dog training school rather than a tighter harness or collar!
The right product
Whether you choose a harness or collar: Both need to be fitted for your dog’s age, weight, and size.
A harness, for example, should be a hand’s width behind the elbow and should definitely not rub directly under the armpits. At the same time, the material should not press on the sternum.
Collars also come in many different sizes and made of many different materials. The latter should be lightweight, yet strong and flexible. Buckles make it easier to put on and adjust.
We wish you and your dog all the best and a lot of fun on walks together!
One of the first things you should explore when deciding if a Service Dog is the right choice for you or not, is what tasks a dog could learn and perform to mitigate your disabilities. This can be overwhelming, especially if you have never owned or trained a dog before.
The best way to start this process is to meet with your family and your doctors, and determine what things you cannot do for yourself (or cannot do safely) because of your disabilities. Spend some time thinking about your daily life and brainstorm a prioritized list. Once you have your list you can go through and make a note of what a dog could be trained to do to help you with each item on your list.
It can be very tempting to do what is called “task shopping”. This is where a person picks and chooses Service Dog tasks from other handlers’ task lists, even if they don’t necessarily need those tasks to mitigate their own disabilities. Remember, in order for a dog to be considered a Service Dog under the ADA, the tasks that they perform must be directly related to and mitigate their disabled handler’s disabilities. Just because a behavior is on a list like the one on this page, does not make it a task. You can feel free to teach your dog extra tricks to help you or make you feel better, but these tricks will not count as tasks and do not make your dog a Service Dog.
Remember, in order for a dog to be considered a Service Dog under the ADA, the tasks that they perform must be directly related to and mitigate their disabled handler’s disabilities.
The purpose of this task list is to show the amazing things that Service Dogs can do to help their handlers. If you are not sure what Service Dogs are capable of learning, this list is a great place to start! Dogs can be trained to perform complex behaviors that many people wouldn’t believe.
Not all of these tasks are safe for all dogs to attempt. Behaviors such as bracing**, forward momentum, counter-balance, assisting with transfers, pulling wheelchairs and others require a large enough dog whose growth plates have closed and has undergone a full physical assessment (including X-Rays) by a veterinary professional. Please do not begin training any tasks until discussing your dog’s readiness to safely do so with a trainer and your vet.
The behaviors in this list are purposely not arranged by disability, symptom, or condition. Every person’s situation presents differently and what mitigates one individual’s disability may not mitigate the same limitation for another person. Similarly, a specific behavior has the potential to mitigate a wide variety of disabilities.
*Quite a few of these tasks involve an Alert. An Alert can be many different behaviors and it is important to consider that not all alert behaviors are appropriate for all situations (ex. barking in a library). When choosing an Alert behavior you should carefully think of all the places your Alert could occur and choose accordingly. Some possible alerts are: Nose Bumping Hands, Nose Bumping a Knee, Licking Hands, Pawing a Knee, Bowing, Spinning in Place, Resting Chin on a Knee, Retrieving a Bringsel, and many more…
** After consulting with the Veterinary Orthopedic Society and other experts in veterinary orthopedics and veterinary orthopedic sports medicine, we have come to the joint conclusion that bracing is not a safe practice under any circumstance. Thus we have removed it from our list of tasks.
The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks:
Alert Family Member
Alert Handler to Another Person or Child Crying/Calling/Yelling
Alert for Help
Alert to Alarm
Alert to Allergen in Food
Alert to Allergen in the Area
Alert to Approaching Car
Alert to Car Horn
Alert to Dangerous Medical Levels in the Body (Blood Pressure, Cortisol, etc) *It has not been scientifically proven that these can be trained.
Alert to Doorbell/Knocking
Alert to Handler’s Name
Alert to Intruder
Alert to Person Coming Up Behind
Alert to Phone
Alert to Seizure *It has not been scientifically proven that this can be trained.
Alert to Siren
Alert to Sounds
Alert to Unheard Dropped Item
Answer the Door
Assist with Grounding
Assist with Position Changes (Sitting to Standing, Laying to Sitting, etc)
Assist with Transfers
Avoid Moving Objects (while guiding)
Block from Moving Towards Danger (busy road, away from home, etc)
Bring a Note to Person
Call 911 on a Dog-Friendly Phone
Call Pre-Programmed Number on a Dog-Friendly Phone
Call Suicide Hotline on a Dog-Friendly Phone
Carry Grocery Bags
Carry Items Up or Down Stairs
Check the House
Clean Up Items on the Floor (put in basket)
Clean Up Trash on the Floor (put in wastebasket)
Clear a Room (enter ahead of handler and check for intruders)
Close Washer/Dryer (with paw or nose)
Close Bathroom Stall Door
Closing Doors (pulling closed with tug)
Closing Doors (pushing closed with nose or paws)
Crowd Control (circling)
DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy)
Deliver Credit Card or Money to a Cashier
Deliver Items from Cashier to Handler
Deliver Item to Person
Drag Heavy Items to Specific Location
Drag Laundry Basket
Find a Bathroom
Find a Specific Person
Find Assigned Seat (at school, work, etc)
Find Empty Seat
Find the Car
Find Disabled Handler (runners, wanderers, lost handler)
Follow Designated Person
Forward Momentum (in a wheelchair)
Forward Momentum (when walking)
Go Find Help
Guide to an Exit
Guide to Specific Item
Guide to Specific Location
Guide to Specific Person
Guide to a Safe Place
Help Sit Up if Slumped Over
Help With Turning Over
High Blood Sugar Alert
Indicate Barrier (while guiding)
Indicate Curbs (while guiding)
Indicate Drop-Offs (while guiding)
Indicate Stairs/Steps (while guiding)
Interrupt Freezing Behavior
Interrupt Harmful Behaviors
Interrupt Panic/Anxiety Attack
Interrupt Repetitive Behaviors
Interrupt Scratching/Skin Picking
Lead Around Ground Hazards (while guiding)
Lead Around Low Hanging Items (while guiding)
Lead Around Stationary Items (while guiding)
Low Blood Sugar Alert
Open Sliding Door
Open/Close Bathroom Door
Open Doors (handicapped button)
Open Doors (pulling open using a tug)
Open Doors (pushing open with nose or paws)
Paws Up to Help With Putting on Dog Gear
Provide Excuse to Leave Uncomfortable Situation
Provide Momentum Up Inclines
Provide Momentum Up Stairs
Provide Pressure on Chest to Produce Cough
Pull Handler with Strap (to change positions)
Pull and Hold Heavy Door
Pull Blankets Off/On
Pull Blinds/Curtains Closed/Open
Push Floor Button to Turn on Lamp
Push Paralyzed Limb Back into Place
Refuse to Move Forward if Not Safe
Remove Socks or Other Clothing
Respond to Anxious Behaviors
Retrieve Clothing Items
Retrieve Dog Bowls
Retrieve Dropped Items
Retrieve Emergency Medication
Retrieve Items When Pointed To
Retrieve Mobility Aid (Wheelchair, Cane, Walker, etc)
Retrieve Named Items
Retrieve Tissue (when crying, sneezing, coughing)
Retrieve Towel (after shower, bath)
Retrieve TV Remote
Retrieve Water to Take Medication
Retrieve Item from Store Shelf
Retrieve Mail or Newspaper
Roll Handler Onto Their Side (by nudging, pulling clothing)
Routine Reminders (feed dog, eat meals, go to sleep, etc)