Leash Lessons

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yorkie harnessYorkies need a lot of exercise, so unless you are fortunate enough to have a big fenced-in back yard, you no doubt take your Yorkie on walks. Yorkies love walks – the sights, the sounds, and oh, the smells! Safety on walks is extremely important. There are a few things you need to know about leashes before you set out on your adventure.

First, NEVER attach a leash to a collar on a Yorkie. Though collars on Yorkies can be very fashionable, collars should be used for identification tags or collar charms only. Yorkies, like other small breeds, are prone to collapsed trachea. The trachea, or the windpipe, is the airway that connects the throat to the lungs. It is made of cartilage rings that keep the passage open. In many small breeds, these c-shaped rings are weak and can collapse, either because of genetics or trauma. Attaching a leash to a collar on a Yorkie can cause the trachea to collapse – the weight of the Yorkie and the force the handler is placing on the leash is being distributed to the front of the collar around the neck, and can cause severe damage to the throat.

Only attach a leash to a harness. The harness distributes the weight and force to the chest area. Collars can be used for displaying identification and vaccination tags, but be sure you are using a break-away collar or removing the collar if your Yorkie will be unattended for any length of time. Yorkies like to climb and jump and the collar can easily get snagged on a gate, bed post, chair, or just about anything in the house and cause your Yorkie to strangle. Similarly, a harness should only be used when walking your Yorkie. Leaving a harness on your Yorkie all the time can cause the hair to tangle and mat and the skin to become irritated. Always brush your Yorkie before and after walking and use a Yorkie detangling spray. If you are concerned about always having identification on your Yorkie, please consider a microchip. Microchips are the most permanent way to identify your dog if he or she were to ever become lost.

Next, when selecting a leash, consider the personality of your dog. I do not recommend a retractable leash for Yorkies. Yorkies are curious by nature and are likely to eagerly approach a new dog coming down the street. Your Yorkie can easily pull ahead on a retractable leash and get to within striking distance of a not-so-friendly dog before you have a chance to react. With a standard leash, you can quickly pull your Yorkie back and out of harm’s way.

Finally, when selecting a harness, make sure that the harness will fit your Yorkie properly. A properly fitting harness is a properly working harness. A harness that is too loose can slip off or injure your Yorkie when walking. A harness that is too tight can also harm your Yorkie. There are many varieties of harnesses out there, even some that are harness shirts and harness dresses, so be sure that you measure your Yorkie and check your measurements against the size guide for the seller you are using. Our favorite harness is the Buddy Belt harness.

And remember, be safe out there!


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