I am soon going to get a Shih Tzu 8 week old puppy. Many places have mentioned that at a young age these small breeds have very fragile necks. They don't recommend using collars for their leashes and to instead use a harness. They say things like, one bad pull, and the dog can have problems breathing for the rest of their life.

I have also been reading how dog trainers recommend using house lines, and keeping a dog on a long leash all the time for the first week or two in the house. This allows easier control of the dog, and helps prevent bad behaviors before they happen. At least to do this while I am supervising the dog, which I hope for the first week I will be able to give almost 100% attention.

So my question is if I want to use a house line, does that mean I should also keep the harness on my dog all day? Would this get uncomfortable for the dog? Is it safe to switch to a collar once we are in the house and the temptation to pull should be lower? Are there better alternatives?

  • 2
    Welcome to pets.SE :) In my experience the owners of small breeds intervene more by pulling than the owners of big breeds, because the small breeds are less powerful. In big breeds you need to train commands more, because they are strong enough to pull the owner. Ongoing from this thought I would say: your alternative is to train your puppy commands, instead of use to pull it back by the leash :) To pull the leash is tempting in small breeds, but as you wrote, it can cause a lots of damage, and your dog will not learn anything from it ... May 12, 2021 at 5:13
  • @Allerleirauh my concerns are not losing the dog under furniture, and being able to take her out really fast in the first few days. It's also injury in the first few days that I worry about the most as the dog gets used to being on a line
    – Andrey
    May 13, 2021 at 14:07
  • If you hold the leash gentle, and the puppy wears a harness, then there should be no damage. But for example even if the leash is done onto a table's leg or something not movable, the dog could gain some speed by running, and then suddenly be stopped by the leash. This you do not want with a collar I think (And the leash should be in your hand every time, instead of bound somewhere) May 13, 2021 at 16:40
  • 1
    I cannot give an objective answer, because it depends on the dog and the owner. Dogs tend to pull the leash more if they wear a harness. Dogs who pull excessively while wearing a collar can permanently crush their windpipe. The same can happen if the owner (intentionally or accidently) jerk and yank the leash. I once had a harness that constricted the rib cage of my dog when he pulled too much, making him wheeze. There are so many variables, good and bad collars and harnesses, the personality of your dog and how they react to being leashed
    – Elmy
    May 13, 2021 at 18:15


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.