We all want our dogs to be safe when we are out and about so what is the best equipment to use?
A well-made collar is an absolute must. The Law in the UK states that a dog must wear a collar and an identity tag!
The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires most dogs to have a collar, with the name and address of the owner inscribed on it, or a tag/disc with the name and address of the owner engraved on it. Your telephone number is optional but advisable. Having your dog micro-chipped does not make you exempt from the Control of Dogs Order and a tag must still be used. Remember to check your dog’s collar and tag for signs of wear and tear and to replace as needed.
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“The owner of a dog or the person in charge of a dog who, without lawful authority or excuse, proof of which shall lie on him, causes or permits the dog to be in a highway or in a place of public resort not wearing a collar as prescribed in article 2(1) above shall be guilty of an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981.” http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/901/article/3/made
If a collar is not worn then the dog may be seized and treated as a stray dog. The owner or person in charge of the dog at that time could be prosecuted and even fined! Certain dogs are exempt from having to wear a collar with a dog tag. They are:
- Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
- Dogs being used in emergency rescue work.
- Dogs being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the police.
- Dogs being used for driving or tending cattle or sheep.
- Dogs being used for the capture or destruction of vermin.
- Dogs being used for sporting purposes.
- Any pack of hounds.
The above list of exemptions is taken from The Control of Dogs Order 1992 No. 901 Article 2.
If your dog pulls, then a harness is going to be at the top of the list of recommended equipment. A dog that pulls while the lead is attached to the collar could suffer serious injury to the neck, spine, thyroid, jugular vain, larynx, trachea. Force applied to the neck can even increase intraocular pressure and cause significant problems to the eyes! Please remember that a dog’s neck anatomy is very similar to that of a human. If you have a dog that pulls then please work on your loose lead walking skills. A front fastening harness is also going to be preferable to one with a back clip as a pulling dog can get more leverage when the lead is fastened to the back.
There are many harnesses on the market today specifically made for very strong dogs. Strongdogz, a Pet Professional Guild British Isles preferred vendor, sell great products while also promoting training without pain, force or intimidation. Please make sure that the harness fits well and does not pinch or rub. You also want to avoid harnesses that tighten, causing discomfort, in order to stop the dog pulling. Choke chains, prong collars and shock collars should be avoided at all times as they can cause irreversible physical and psychological damage. Shock collars are banned in many countries as they cause unnecessary suffering. In March 2010 Wales became the first country in the UK to ban the use of electric shock collars for pets. Anyone caught using the devices faces a fine of up to £20,000 or six months in prison. Animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA and the Kennel Club supported the move. Both choke chains and prong collars can also cause serious injury to the dog. Prong collars have, unbelievably, been promoted as a safer option than choke chains but imagine the damage that could be inflicted if one of the prongs was sitting on the dog’s larynx?
For those of you that need help with pulling issues, here is a link to a previous article: Teaching Your Dog Not To Pull.
Another essential piece of equipment is going to be a lead. Under The Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence to have a dog on a designated road without it being held on a lead. “Control of dogs on roads: A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence”.
Please make sure that the lead you use is in a good state of repair. There are lots of great options for leads and long lines but please avoid using “flexi” leads, as they are responsible for many accidents! Strongdogz has a great selection of very good quality leads suitable for all breeds, big and small. Here is a link to the Strongdogz online shop.
By law, in England, from April 6th, 2016 it will be compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped and registered on a government-approved database. Policy paper 2010 to 2015 government policy: animal welfare. The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015 will also come into force on 6th April, 2016 and will require all dogs over eight weeks old to be microchipped, and the keepers’ details registered on an approved database. Compulsory microchipping laws are also due to come into effect in Scotland in April 2016, the same time as in England and Wales. In Ireland, the Microchippng of Dogs Regulations 2015 came into operation on 1 June 2015
Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Blue Cross have all been offering free microchipping at their centres. If your dog is already chipped, you just need to make sure your contact details are up to date on one of the microchip databases. The Kennel Club manages Petlog, one of the UK’s databases for microchipped pets, which was established to help reunite lost dogs with their owners. “As such it is delighted that microchipping will soon be mandatory for all dogs, helping to promote animal welfare and responsible dog ownership and bring dogs and owners back together more quickly and effectively.” The UK databases are Petlog, Anibase, Avid/PeTtrac, PetProtect and SmartChip. As previously stated however, a microchip is not proof of ownership or identity and a collar with an attached identity tag must be worn. For more information about microchips, please go to Bruce Forsyth’s Vets Get Scanning Appeal (petitioning for compulsory scanning of microchips).
Muzzles may also be an essential piece of equipment for some dogs. Dogs that are affected by breed specific legislation are, for example, often required to wear muzzles whenever in public. Whether a muzzle is needed because of safety concerns or because of legislation, please make sure that you muzzle train your dog so that they build up a positive association and are happy to wear it. Here’s a link to a video that shows you the steps you need to follow: How To Teach Your Dog to Love Wearing a Muzzle
So we have a collar and an identity tag, a harness, a lead and perhaps a muzzle. Something else we should also put at the top of the list would be lots of rewards! Training your best friend using rewards based, force-free training techniques means you are going to need lots of tasty treats as well as your buddy’s favourite toy!
Please remember to visit the Strongdogz shop and take a look at the great range of products available. There are more training tips on the Strongdogz website: http://strongdogz.com/training-tips/ and please visit The Pet Professional Guild British Isles, a membership organisation representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results based, science based force-free training and pet care. There are lots of great educational and training resources available and pet owners join for free!
Louise Stapleton-Frappell PCT-A
Trainer for Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog: First “EVER” Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a Crowned Trick Dog Champion. For more details click the link HERE.