Not everyone is blessed with a dog who needs no restraint. Even with exemplary dogs, in not every circumstance is it safe to have no restraint, in case something really exciting were to distract him.
What merits are there, for the various methods?
Selection of leads, from the vast array available, is a matter for personal choice and circumstance.
Collars are simple and offer a very reasonable system for attaching a lead or an identity tag. Most dogs are very happy with them, as long as they are well-fitted. Too loose and they’re both useless and potentially dangerous. Too tight and that’s clearly wrong. We do not support the use of ‘choker' collars. Half-chokers, i.e. those that can only close to a fixed position, appear to be humane. There are now flat name tags available, through which a webbing collar can be threaded, avoiding the annoying jangling noise of many identity tags and their ability to ‘catch' on obstacles in the dog's path.
If there is a suspicion of neck problems, we suggest a well-fitted harness as a better option. This spreads the load and prevents pressure, leverage or tension on the neck. It is also very useful if your dog has slight locomotor difficulty or if you need to support some of his weight, as he jumps into or out of the car (e.g. if he has limb or back problems).
Halters are in demand when the dog is a real ‘puller’. They are effective in deflecting the dog’s line of progress but they do put a snatching and twisting load on the dog’s neck. We advise against them, whenever it is possible to manage without.
If your dog is suffering serious hind-quarter weakness, there is a specially-designed sling which can help enormously in carrying out life’s daily functions. In some extreme cases, when house and dog are suitable, there are wheeled carriages, to help a dog to regain mobility. These can transform life for some but can be worse than useless in other cases.
If (very rarely) it should be considered necessary to ‘muzzle' a dog, then there are different designs on the market. Again, the AVMC is willing to advise clients on which designs appear less insulting and confrontational to the dog.
We are happy to advise clients on any of these issues.