Leash Pulling Dogs Can Suffer From Neck Injuries

Some dog owners may be very surprised to know that a dog’s neck is equally vulnerable to injury as much as a human’s.   The neck is a very delicate part of the body.  Leash pulling dogs are at a high risk for neck injury.  There is a method as to how to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash.  Before you attempt to train your dog not to pull on the leash make sure you have the correct gear.  A no pull harness and leash is a fantastic method in teaching your dog not to pull on a leash.  So, follow me and let’s get into some detail about it.


Examine your own neck

Feel your neck and notice how sensitive it is and then go feel your dog’s throat.  Imagine what you would feel with a collar around your neck if someone was to give it an abrupt pull.  Well, that’s what a dog’s neck experiences each time the collar is jolted on a leash or even just grabbing the collar with our hand.  It’s not in a dog’s nature to show pain when they’re hurt as it’s their instinct to always be in charge and not vulnerable.

The advantage and disadvantage of using a collar

There is only two advantages to using a collar for leash walking and that is:

It’s easier and faster to put on the dog’s neck and it’s great for ID tags.


The disadvantage is:

Neck injury.  It can just take a onetime incident of the dog bolting at the end of the leash
receiving a bad jolt on the neck causing severe neck damages.



The Halti

Halters that fit over a dog’s head could also cause neck injuries
but in a different way than a collar.  It can cause the neck to twist to the side
or bend backward if the dog hits the end of the leash with an impact.



A misconception of a dog’s neck

We’re in a society having been taught that dogs are strong, and tough,
with necks designed to take harsh treatment from repeated
pulling, yanking, dragging, and high impact jolts.

The fact of the matter is “A Dogs Neck Is Equally Delicate As  A Human’s Neck.”



The results of repeated jolting on the neck

Years later the accumulation of unnoticed injury starts to surface while we then think it’s old age that’s the cause when the target is really from neck injury or injuries.  Neck injury can cause a number of symptoms resulting in some long term or permanent damages in a variety of ways.



A little about the anatomy of the dog’s neck

The neck is the center point of healing and prevention because
blood flows through the neck to the brain and also to all the parts of the body.
The neck is the main gateway for controlling the whole body.

The nerves in the brain stem and cervical and thoracic spine regulate most life-essential functions. This system is called the autonomous nervous system, or ANS.

If the brain is damaged, the body may survive, but with a damaged ANS, the patient will die because the organs depend on this system to function such as the heart.



The Captain Nerve

There is a nerve called the vagus nerve which is a bundle of nerves with many functions.  There are two which are the longest and most complex stemming from the skull.  It’s a two way communicator and is attached to all the organs which functions without you having to monitor or to worry about such as the heart and other major organs.


Some duties of the vagus nerve are:

This automatic function from the vagus nerve is called the parasympathetic nervous system as it has multiple branches that travel to so many organs.

The vagus nerve starts at the base of the skull and follows the neck.  Any neck injury or pressure of the collar from yanking and jolting can have a serious negative effect on your dog’s life-essential organs.

When there is excessive pressure or impact on this nerve it pinches and can leave this nerve damaged.

It controls the heart beat, breathing, gallbladder, bile release in the liver and pancreas, glucose control in the kidneys, sodium excretion to lower blood pressure, tear production in the eyes, production of saliva and taste and much more.


There are other functions of the body which rely on the neck to stay healthy and functional such as:

Front leg movement and sensation


Thyroid gland

Trachea and esophagus

Jugular vein and carotid artery  and so much more.


What is the Solution in avoiding injury to the neck?

If your dog never pulls or never causes pressure or impacts to the neck it might be safe to have the leash attached to a collar.

For the dog that pulls I recommend to use a harness which clips on the back.  There is also the harness which are the no pull which are designed to put tension on the shoulder blades which discourages the dog from continuing the pull.



In conclusion

I like to play it safe and use the harness on all dogs whether they pull or not and never have to worry about any unexpected impact on the neck resulting in an injury.  There is always a chance that a dog could get excited once in his life and react by pulling on the leash and collar.  Why take a chance?  We are the dog parent and should take caution at every given opportunity.

Keep Your Dog Smiling

Thank you for joining me in this.  Please do comment as it’s very encouraging  to hear the voice of others.


6 thoughts on “Leash Pulling Dogs Can Suffer From Neck Injuries

  1. A very informative post. With a strong, medium-sized dog, we use a choke-chain as the only way to stop her pulling my wife over. The logic was that the dog would have enough sense to not actually damage itself. Is this wrong thinking?

    1. Hello John,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I enjoy the questions.
      So, here is my answer.
      From what I’ve learned and researched on a dog’s neck is equally delicate as ours to start with.
      But a dog will not think like a human and stop pulling.
      This is why I love questions as this is another piece of information that I shall add to my post.
      When we pull on the leash it activates a natural instinct for the dog to pull more.
      It’s called Oppositional reflex. The dog has the instinct to pull back in order to maintain balance.
      Just like if someone was pulling on us and we react to maintain our balance. It’s isn’t a negative
      attitude, it’s a natural reaction.
      The dog will continue this reaction even if it choks or injures him.
      People are mislead that it’s an attitude of stubbornness that needs to be corrected which
      is not so. It’s that reflex.
      The solution is to train the dog to walk on a loose leash and in using a tool that will not
      injure the neck in the process. This take lots of training for some dogs but works.
      When a dog begins pulling that’s when we need to stop walking. When the leash is loose begin
      walking again. You may have to do this dozens of times and in short intervals.
      Be generous with patting and treats for rewards.
      If we avoid any stress on the leash the dog will realize that he gets to walk on a loose leash.
      Always yanking and pulling trains the dog that’s the way to have it.
      No dog wants to associate a walk with pain. They only become tolerant of it.
      If a trainer recommends or uses a prong collar or any collar that squeezes then I would find one
      who has the skill to train a dog without pain or harsh treatment.
      My 3 huskies are learning with the no pull harness.
      So thank you for your question. You have given me another topic to write.
      I hope you visit me in the near future and I’ll try to put more detail on
      how I am actually training my 3 huskies on the harness.
      Sincerely Jen

  2. I have always take it for granted that it’s all right to leash dogs, after reading your post I can see how mistaken I am and I feel for the poor dogs, especially on a tight leash. They should all have freedom from the pain and injuries. Collars are so much better, so thanks for the enlightenment.

    1. Most of us are not informed about the anatomy of the dog’s neck.
      It’s understandable since even those who are supposed to be
      professional dog handlers use aggressive tools.
      I hope that the knowledge reaches as many dog owners as possible.

      Thank you Moon for your comment.

  3. Kenny

    This post is great! I think there needs to be more awareness of how dogs need to be treated right too. Yes they are dogs, but still living creatures that don’t need a snapped neck just for being a dog, sniffing or running to another dog passing by. I think you have a chance to help a lot of dogs and their owners with this site! Keep it up!

    1. Thank you, Kenny for your reply. Yes, I wish that I could change
      the dog’s world and only have kindness used for teaching dogs.
      But, first the pet parents need to be taught.

      See you soon!

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