Date of Award
Master of Science
Pulling behavior in canines remains a common problem despite the potential for serious injury. Unfortunately, data regarding the potential force a canine could exhibit while being walked in either a collar or harness is limited. Therefore, we designed a single-day study to investigate the impact of equipment type on canine potential pulling force. This study was approved by the Southern Illinois University Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (21-005) prior to initiation of the work. For this crossover study, community and student-owned dogs (n=28) were recruited through email and social media advertisement. Upon arrival, dogs were weighed and grouped by size; small, medium, or large. Canines followed a standardized circuit that included different environmental stimuli (unfamiliar dog, food, thrown toy) commonly encountered during a walk in the park. Dogs were walked once in a fitted 1.5" flat nylon Tactipup© collar and a fitted padded Good2Go harness. An apparatus, EasyForce® digital dynamometer, was attached between the leash and a trained technician walking the canines. Variables of interest included: mean pulling force, peak pulling force, and time spent pulling. Data were analyzed using PROC GLM Two-way ANOVA (SAS Version 9.4) with significance set at P < 0.05. Although time spent pulling was similar (P = 0.3458) for both harness and collar, dogs pulled with greater mean force (P < 0.0001) while wearing a harness as compared to a collar (13.6 ± 0.88lbf and 8.5 ± 0.79lbf, respectively). Furthermore, peak pulling force was also greater in the harness (44.7 ± 1.22lbf) as compared to the collar (36.6 ± 1.21lbf) (P = 0.03). It is also important to note that when peak pulling force was expressed as a % of body weight (%BW), the smallest group exerted the most prominent force (122 ± 9.45%BW) when compared to the larger groups (P < 0.0001). This data compares the pulling force potential in canines while wearing either a collar or a harness and helps provide much-needed data to develop guidelines and better educational materials for dog owners related to leash-pulling behaviors. Future work should implement different types of collars and harnesses and look to see if the use of training has any effect on pulling behavior in canines.
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