It never ceases to amaze me what people use when walking their dogs.
Harnesses, for example were designed primarily for two main purposes; to pull heavy objects like carts and sleds and to allow a dog full movement of both head and neck when it’s being used for tracking a scent, ie Bloodhounds. If you use a harness to walk your dog and if it’s big and powerful enough, you’re giving it access to be able to pull you just about anywhere it wishes to take you!
I’ve recently witnessed two instances that illustrate this:
The first was a young woman with a ten month old Golden Retriever puppy on a harness that was quite literally dragging her up and down the towpath on the Basingstoke canal, near Woking in Surrey. The dog was in full control of the situation and it would have made quite a comical scene, had there not been a serious underlying safety issue involved.
The second case was, I think, even more potentially dangerous. I was cycling with Dukie over at Shirley near Croydon and we were going through a country park when we came upon a lady with two Mastiff type dogs. One was off lead and it was staring up into a tree and barking furiously at a squirrel, the other was on a harness and became quite aggressive towards Dukie as we approached. It really was touch and go whether the lady would remain in control and she warned me that the dog on the lead was very unfriendly towards other dogs, so as I hurriedly passed her, I suggested she use a different lead arrangement to give her greater control (and here’s why a lot of people mistakenly use harnesses) to which she replied that she had to use a harness or she’d damage the dog’s neck! Well she wouldn’t if she was taught how to have proper control over her dogs in the first place; but you just can’t help some people!
The mistaken views of this young lady, coupled with the fact that so many people like her don’t seek the right sort of help with this sort of behaviour problem, whilst continuing to use the most unsuitable equipment, seems destined to keep the problem escalating to the point where a full blooded aggressive confrontation is almost inevitable. And if someone gets bitten should this occur, she’ll probably end up losing the dog and of course he’ll sadly lose his life!!!