Leash jerking (a.k.a. “yank-and-crank”) is still used and recommended by many dog trainers today.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t see the benefit of it.
Since I’m not a professional dog trainer, I will refrain from explaining why I don’t think it is an effective way of accomplishing anything.
I will however express my personal concern over the dog’s physical safety as a canine massage therapist.
The Neck is an Intricate Part of the Body
Dogs have seven cervical vertebrae bones in the neck.
In a hole in the center of each vertebra, the spinal cord passes through.
The spinal cord is very important, as it carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
The vertebrae act as protection for the very delicate spinal cord along with the intervertebral discs that work as buffer between each vertebrae.
No Other Bone Besides the Cervical Vertebrae Supports the Dog’s Head
As you can see in the skeletal model in the picture, dogs do not have any other bone to support their heavy heads besides the cervical vertebrae.
Unlike humans, dogs do not have the collarbones.
Muscles In the Neck Are Over-Worked
For the same skeletal reason, the ligament and the muscles in the neck are constantly working to support the heavy head.
Most of my canine clients have stiff necks, especially little ones as they have to look up at a greater angle to see people.
When muscles are over-worked and stiff, there is no elasticity in the tissue so they are more likely to get injured.
According to this fact sheet regarding disc disease by UC Davis, the areas of the spine most commonly affected by herniated discs in dogs are the neck, and the mid-to lower back regions.
Why Would You Mess With Such Delicate Part of Your Dog’s Body??
I see people jerk leashes and use choker and prong collars all the time.
Another thing I often see is people step on the leash close to the neck in an attempt to lower the dog’s head in order to ‘teach’ them how to lay down.
Most of the time it seems like people do this with such speed and power that they are risking their dog’s safety.
Look Into Positive Training Without Physical Force That Inflicts Burden or Pain on Your Dog
There are many opinions in dog training.
If you are using the jerking method or if your dog’s trainer is telling you to do it, I would ask you to give it a second thought.
Given a choice, wouldn’t you choose the safer, kinder way?