I’ve been fostering abused and neglected dogs for about five months. They pulled on their leashes, which produces tension on their necks and causes stridor (harsh vibrating sound) when they sleep. Leash training takes time. The vest and other walking devices also cause problems. I think collaring/leashing dogs is cruel now and prefer to teach them to walk off leash. As for rescue dogs (because I have no choice), I use a prong with a quick pull; it stops the pulling, and they quickly learn not to do it. So, people like me walk their dogs off leash when possible, and we are usually very courteous and maintain distance with people, or we put our dogs in the sit position and let others pass.
Thank you for fostering abused and neglected animals. Walking dogs off leash, however, may be easier for you, but it often scares other pet owners. Leash laws are real, and you don’t know enough about the personalities of these foster dogs in the little time that you have cared for them to know if they will listen to you or behave well around other people and animals.
You do have choices when it comes to collars. Please try the Haltie or Gentle Leader head collars on your foster dogs. They work almost like a horse halter wrapping around the face and snout, so you have better control of the dog, and they will immediately stop pulling. I promise you will love these head collars as a training device, and your neighbors and other dog walkers will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping these rescue dogs leashed.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal