Dog Leash Injury Prevention

By Julia Guthart, OTR/L CHT

Dog Leash Injury Prevention

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These leash injuries are on the rise, especially among women. Women’s bones are less dense as they get older and are more prone to fracture during a fall while walking a dog. In addition, the most common dog leash injuries are broken wrist, broken elbow and a broken hip.

At Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute, we see a large percentage of finger fractures from dog leash injuries. Our furry friends and family members bring a lot of love and joy into our lives. However, with the increasing number of dog leash injuries, we wanted to review some basic safety and prevention tips.

1) How You Hold Your Dog Leash Matters.

First and foremost DO NOT LOOP or wrap it around your wrist. Do not intertwine the leash in your fingers.  If you are using a retractable leash, do not let it expand to full length. In fact, keep it short when walking in pedestrian traffic. Do not allow your dog to pull or make contact with other pedestrians or dogs.

Drape the leash back and forth over your palm in a zig-zag fashion to take up some of the slack of the leash. This will shorten the leash to give you more control and pull your dog closer to your body but is easy to release and not “twist around” your finger(s).

  • Check that the leash is exiting your hand near your pinkie finger to ensure maximum control.

2) What Kind of Dog Leash Matters.

This includes picking the correct leash AND the collar.  A collar should be tight enough to avoid slipping up and down on the dog’s neck but not too tight to compress airways.  You should be able to just fit your hand under the collar.  Make sure not to use retractable leash- these leashes tell the dog he can rush ahead or stay behind and he will never learn to avoid pulling.

Most dog trainers are now recommending a hardness that disperses the pressure to the dogs back and avoids any pressure around the neck and airways. Using a “halti dog harness” which has the leash attachment in the front of the dog’s chest so if the dog pulls the dog is turned back toward you and avoids any pressure on airways.

Another leash option is the head halter where a strap goes around the muzzle and again when the dogs start to pull will turn its head towards you.

3) Training Your Dog How to Walk on the Leash Matters.

One of the best ways to avoid leash injuries is to train your dog how to walk on a leash.  If they are taught to not pull then your risk of injury is significantly lower.   Obedience classes and dog training are a good investment in your dog’s future.

It trains them to be a “good citizen” of dog parks, and the human world too. Walking on the leash takes a lot of practice and training your dog to walk safely on the leash takes lots of patience.  There are many methods: one is when the dog starts to pull is to stop still and wait for the dog to sit and stop pulling- sometimes it is recommended to attach the leash to your belt loop as it is easier to stand still with pulling at your hips rather than your hand.

Another method is to turn and walk in the opposite direction of how the dog is pulling. Another tip is to make sure that your dog is not too excited when starting the walk.  Play fetch in the backyard before the walk.  Most unwanted dog behavior is due to the exercise demands of the dog not being met.

4) Paying Attention While Walking your Dog on the Leash Matters.

Look out for obstacles or environmental tripping hazards. Be aware of other dogs or animals in the area that might catch your dog’s attention. Be careful not to trip on the leash itself. DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY CELL PHONE.  But that is a whole other article!

It is a big responsibility walking a dog on a leash. Do not take it lightly. Your safety and your dog’s safety are depending on YOU and YOUR DECISIONS.

JOI Rehab

Whether you are suffering from hand issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!


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