Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Attempts at Keeping my Dog Safe

I consider my dog, Riggins, my baby boy. As his human mom it’s important to do what I can to keep him safe. At times I feel like I’m just throwing money at retailers who know I’m a sucker. I’ve always said if you want to make a buck then invent a product that caters to new dog parents AND new human parents. These two consumer groups have SUCKER written all over them. We will do and spend anything to keep our babies safe.

Here are just a few things I’ve purchased over the past 10+ years of Riggin’s life:

  1. Collars

When Riggins was a puppy I didn’t know much about dogs and, to me, a collar was a collar. I grabbed one from my local chain pet store and happily snapped it around his neck. It wasn’t until later, when I started reading and learning about other collar types, that I thought I may need to do some searching to find something safer for my sweet baby.

As a dog sitter a handful of the pups I watch wear a Martingale collar. This style slips over your dog’s head and then has a loop that get’s tighter when pulled. When used correctly the collar is loose 99% of the time, only constricting to the circumference of your dog’s neck when he pulls on his leash. Riggins’ neck is so much bigger than his head that it is possible for him to slip out of it. Something he has done more than once. Obviously, the Martingale style was safer.

That is until I read about how you needed it take it off whenever the dog was not on a walk as the same design that keeps your dog from slipping out while on leash can have deadly results if caught on a fence, plant, or another dog’s teeth. Aaaaahhhhh! How horrifying. It was time to try again.

At a pet first aid session the instructor said that, in her opinion, every dog should wear a quick release collar. You don’t have to tell me twice, although it that collar didn’t last long. After a few times of me grabbing Riggins’ collar to stop him from chasing someone or something, only to be left in his dust holding a collar in my hand, we went back to our tried and true clipping collar!

2. The right leash

I started out with a standard leash. 6 feet. Black. Nylon. Riggins’ first leash had a push gate snap hook (I had to look that up. I had no idea what it was called). It was shiny and pretty but after about a year Riggins was able to walk away free from the restraint of his leash. I finally figured out it was the darn useless clasp on his lead. I did what any sane person would do and bought a new one.

Our next purchase had a good ol’ fashioned bolt snap (I had to look that up too). That worked well until I discovered something called a traffic lead. A traffic lead is essentially just a big loop handle. It is very short and keeps your dog close to you giving him very little leeway to wonder.

At the time we lived on a VERY traffic heavy street and the new shorter lead had “traffic” in the name. It had to be better than what I was using and it was — for the most part. As brilliant as the traffic lead is, and I’m a big supporter, it wasn’t useful for anything but very deliberate walks where we were practicing “walking pretty” (Close to my side and in stride with me). For everyday use it was more trouble than it was worth.

Which leads me to the leash style I have used ever sense. It’s a hybred normal and traffic lead. It is a long normal leash with a traffic lead tacked on at the end. Perfect for when you are walking and need to pull your pup close for awhile. Sure every once in a while Riggins’ leg gets stuck in the traffic lead loop, but it’s a small price to pay for overall comfort and safety!

3. Car restraints

Riggins has always worn a “seat belt” while in the car. At this point he expects it and the few times he doesn’t he won’t even get out of the car until I unhook him. He will just sit there and wait. I’ll tell him it’s okay but he will look at me as if to say, “Yah right lady? You can’t fool me. You need to unbuckle me first.” So I pretend to unbuckle him and we go on our way.

We started with a standard chest covered halter that has a loop in the back for the human seat belt to go through. We had a few of those. I loved the first one he had because it was padded with cotton on the chest area and I thought that made it comfortable. That was until we were hiking in the summer, he kept his halter on when we hiked, and I decided it made him too warm. I switched to one with less coverage on the breast but that one didn’t last long since I decided it wasn’t as comfortable and we went back to the padded style.

THEN I did an article on car restraint safety and had no choice but to get my darling baby boy the ONLY design that is certified by the Center for Pet Safety who crash tested a number of styles, including our older choices, the Sleepypod Clickit Sport. Of course, as great as the Clickit Sport is at keeping Riggins safe in the car it is a horrible walking harness. That meant I needed to purchase a new harness to use on hikes once he got out of the car.

Look at all that money I have spent searching for the safest item for my dog. I’d do it all again over and over! He is worth every penny.

What items have you purchased over an over for your dog all in the name of safety? Let us know in the comments below.

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