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Dog Harnesses: The good, the bad and the ugly

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A “no-pull” harness may be an effective way to prevent your dog from pulling too much on the leash, however they can lead to some problems. These harnesses restrict proper shoulder movement, and by doing so limit the amount of pulling, but also negatively affect their normal gait patterns. These harnesses sit on top of some very important muscles, the biceps, brachiocephalicus and the supraspinatus, which help to extend the shoulder joint. This compression and lack of appropriate motion of the shoulder can lead to shoulder pain, arthritis, inflammation and bursitis.

Dogs carry 60% of their weight on their front limbs and 40% on their hind limbs. In dogs who wear harnesses, studies have shown that the begin to shift their weight to the hind end so that they do not have as much pressure on the front. This finding tells us that the discomfort they experience in a harness is enough for them to alter their gait and posture.

If your dog pulls a lot and your concern is injury to the neck, then a harness for training purposes may be the best option for your pet. It is important to fit the harness properly and ensure you’re your dog is able to move their shoulder through his/hers full range of motion. Although most “no-pull” harnesses are designed to restrict shoulder movement, there are some harnesses that have been designed to allow proper movement through the shoulder. At a local pet shop called “Wholesome Canine” they carry a brand of harness called the “Haqihana harness”. This harness is specifically designed to allow for full flexion and extension of the shoulder joint so that no movements are restricted.

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When deciding what kind of leash or harness is right for your dog, please consider how they move in it and determine if they are restricted in any way. The best solution for excessive pulling is training. If you are unsure if your dog’s harness is fit properly, bring them in for an assessment with one of our animal chiropractors! We would be happy to help your pet move better and feel more comfortable.

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