The throat

Reaching down to give Luke a hug, he coughed.  "Ahhhh, sorry, sorry, sorry" I tell him.  I hate when that happens, when my forearm crosses at the precisely wrong spot on his throat.  With just the slightest connection from my arm and the front of his throat he coughs.  The same thing happens with Elsa and did with Tilley.  I have tried to perfect my neck hug over the years so that the crook of my arm lands on the front of their neck.  But sometimes a hug is just too spontaneous and I forget.

It is this hugging action that got me to thinking about dog necks and throats more specifically, years ago.  Tilley was my first to display such a sensitivity and I am surely glad that she did.  We humans are a funny bunch aren't we?  We go about our daily lives, performing many of the same actions over the years without ever stopping to ponder what we are doing.  Collars are one of those things; and yes I know that I will receive backlash for this blog from many.  But maybe some folks will stop and think after reading it.

A dog's neck/throat is a very delicate thing.  It is where the esophagus, larynx and trachea come together.  There is not a great deal of muscle that surrounds the area.  The front of the neck is a sensitive place compared to the back.  The neck itself has a great deal of nerves, muscle and tendons surrounding the skeletal frame.  Having suffered recently from a fourth rear end collision, I think about necks a lot.  The whiplash that you receive from a rear end collision mimics very closely a severe collar correction that many of our dogs sustain on a daily basis.  Why is it that we think yanking on a dogs neck is okay?  Because it one of those things that has been done for so long that we don't think about it anymore.

Photo taken from the Dog Health Guide site.  

Not only is yanking a major cause in the physical health of a dogs neck but the constant pressure from a collar as well.  Continual tension on the front of a dogs neck can flatten major throat anatomy.  Esophagus, trachea and larynx damage are major concerns when using any type of collar.  If you do need to put a collar on your dog then go with a wide one.  The wider the better as it spreads the pressure of impact over a larger area creating less pinpoint pressure.

The neck of a dog is a complicated area.  The front of the neck is extremely sensitive, think about it.  You can see for yourself by putting the slightest bit of pressure there with an incorrectly placed hug.  I am not going to go into the full anatomy of a dog throat but leave you with a dog's neck to ponder on.

Just because we've been yanking them around for decades does not mean that we should still be doing it.  It is time for our connection (physical) to evolve.  I am happy to see so many harnesses in use these days but I am still seeing those die-hard collar yankers.

This not only pertains to neck collars but head collars as well.  I've seen people yanking away on a head collar and I cringe.   A head collar is a wonderful training tool but you must take the utmost of care when working with them.  The head collar gives you complete control of your dogs head so if you yank on it or allow your dog to yank on it, think about what is happening to their neck in the process.

Please consider your dog's neck the next time you grab a collar.


  1. wow. I seriously never thought about this, which is kind of dumb on my part. What are your thoughts on things like halti and gentle leaders? My dog doesn't generally pull with me, but can with my mother or my kids. This is surely eye opening.

  2. I have made an addition as an update about head collars. They are a wonderful tool BUT I see them being misused often. Whiplash is a serious side effect of a head collar misused. You must take great care not to impact your dogs neck while using them.

  3. I use gentle leaders, are they okay? Now that I have a new spoo pup, I wonder what the best training collar is best to use. Any suggestions? Is been a while since I had to train a pup! Thanks.


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