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PLEASE learn from my terrifying mistake

7493 Views 37 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  xxxxdogdragoness
So, you may have read my post about the new dog who followed me home and has now adopted me. He's been doing well - he still won't let us pet him or touch him if he has a choice, but he's been following me around the house and spending more and more time sitting with us rather than hiding in his crate.

Anyway, I took Jameson to the vet today for his first round of vaccinations and a well-dog visit to get him started. He was totally terrified, but generally well behaved, and it was all fine. We left, went to the car, and as I was trying to get him into the car, something spooked him, he panicked, back away pretty violently, and slipped his collar. I swear, I can still see it happening in slow motion... it was horrible. Rush hour traffic right next to a very busy roadway...

Thank God he ran through the bushes instead of towards the road. Thank God he ran into a totally empty parking lot that was entirely surrounded by fencing with the driveway as the only escape. Thank God he just trotted around in circles rather than continuing to run at top speed. Thank God for cell phones, and for the tiny part of my brain that was functioning rather than panicking and told me to call over to the vet and ask for help.

And, most of all, thank God for my incredible, incredible vet, who came running out with her entire staff, slip leads and a can of food in hand, and particularly for the amazing vet tech who shoved her hand into the can of food and patiently coaxed him into a corner where she could get the lead on him.

I'm not a religious person at all, but I can't stop thanking God that the situation wasn't worse and that we were able to catch him again.

It was terrible and frightening. I've spent the whole evening going over it in my head: I checked his collar before we left. I thought it was tight enough. He rarely even pulls on his leash. I just... wow. I was shaking the whole way home. The first thing I did after dropping him off was get immediately back into the car and drive to the pet store to get him a harness. That dog will never again leave the house without the harness on. Seriously. I'm also getting him microchipped when we go back for our booster shots - I was going to do it today, but I was trying not to overwhelm him with too many scary things poking at him.

(The second thing I did, once I calmed down a bit, was order a giant fruit basket to send the vet office as a thank you.)

Please, PLEASE learn from my mistake - if you have a nervous dog, especially one shaped like Jameson, where his head isn't all that much wider than his neck, walk him with a harness. With all the dogs I've had, I've never needed to use a harness, but I'm used to dogs with much bigger heads and much smaller fear drives. I'll never make that mistake again.

In other news, as the latest addition to the "I don't understand some people" conversation, as I was sitting in the middle of the parking lot, trying not to cry, waiting for the vet to come help me, a man and woman came out of the office building nearby. Jameson walked, not at all threateningly, to about 5 feet away from them. The guy looks and me and says "she's afraid of dogs." I tell him I'm sorry, he's slipped his collar and I'm trying to get him to come back to me. His response? He tells me, "Well, you need to do that" and walks away. Gee, thanks for the advice. Because I know when I see someone on the verge of tears sitting on the dirty ground in the middle of a parking lot, I find it helpful to advise them to do exactly the thing they are trying most desperately to do. It's not like I expected him to stay and help (although I kind of hoped...), but he could at least not rub salt in the wound.

Anyway, that's my story. We're all home safe and sound now, and we're going to go out for a nice, calm walk in our new harness. At least I know now how attached to him I've really become, that I was so upset by it!

(ps - please, please, PLEASE resist the urge to flame me and tell me what a moron I am for not making sure the collar was tighter or not realizing he'd need a harness. Trust me, you can't possibly beat me up any more than I'm beating myself up right now. I've learned my lesson, and it will never, ever, ever, EVER happen again. I've spent the whole evening going over "what if?" in my head, and I'm still shaking a little bit over it.)
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How scary and awful. I agree with using a martingale or limited slip collar. Squash just backed out of his harness a week or so ago when I was biking with him, the effer.
Okay, I've ordered the martingale off of amazon, so it should be here by Saturday. I'm going to be in a constant state of anxiety for the next few days while I'm away and other people are responsible for taking care of him, but I'm sure it will be fine. My husband certainly seems to think I'm being a little obsessive :p

On the other hand, he wasn't there to feel that terrible sensation of helplessness... sigh. Stuff of nightmares.

By the way, we really do have an amazing vet, and will keep going to her as long as she's around! My family has been going to her practice for decades - starting way back when it was her dad's practice. She's incredible, and this isn't the first time I've seen her go above and beyond. I feel lucky to have her - I kind of wish I could find a human doctor who cared that much for myself...
I use a choke chain on new dogs that I don't know or fearful dogs. They are almost impossible to slip. I prefer not to use them normally, but I would rather they have that on, then risk slipping a collar.

It's also not a bad idea to put a regular rolled leather or flat collar with id tags on them, that isn't attached to the leash. If they should slip a collar, people can see that the dog has id tags from a distance and will usually try to pick them up and call the owner. Without tags, they may think they were dumped, and will not have an owner or be hard to catch. Do microchip as well.
My dog once slipped his collar as a young puppy when we were walking, luckily he ran straight to someone and the guy grabbed him for me, silly pup ran away when I went to grab him, when I noticed his collar came off.
He slipped off a couple more times after that, but he his recall was better so I didn't really worry.
Martingales are great for this sort of thing, or you can use a Slip/Choker. I've had dogs get out of Martingales but I've never had one get out of a Slip.
We always had a flat collar and a choke collar on all our fosters. we clipped the leash to both collars, so the choke wouldn't be in play, unless they slipped the regular collar. It saved our butts a few times!
I am not a choke collar admirer at all but if in doubt see nothing wrong using one to help until martingale arrives.
I'm glad you got your dog back. I see you already bought a martingale; I was going to suggest ones from Yellow Snow dog gear. We like these because they snap on instead of going over the head. One of our dogs has a huge head and it's not easy to put the other types over the head.
So glad your story has a happy ending and everyone is safe. Something very similar happened to us and, it sounds like, many other people.

We had just left from picking up our new puppy and were probably less than 5 miles from the breeder's house when she was car sick. We pulled off the highway into a fast food parking lot and got her out of her crate to start cleaning. She got spooked (or something), slipped out of the collar the breeder had given us, and was running around the parking lot near the highway. I'm not sure how, but we managed to catch her and get her back in the car. We tightened the collar and bought a Martingale the next day. Now, she has an ID collar and a leash collar - like Spotted Nikes mentioned.
It's also not a bad idea to put a regular rolled leather or flat collar with id tags on them, that isn't attached to the leash. If they should slip a collar, people can see that the dog has id tags from a distance and will usually try to pick them up and call the owner. Without tags, they may think they were dumped, and will not have an owner or be hard to catch. Do microchip as well.
Yes, this. We use a martingale for walking Biscuit (or sometimes a harness), but Biscuit always has a flat collar on with tags as well. That way, if she slips away somehow, at least she has tags (and microchip).

OP, that story is so scary! But I have to say, it warms my heart that you're so attached to the little guy already. It sounds like he's landed in the clover by finding you.
Flame you? Like we all haven't had something like that happen? Here, have a hug ((())).

The second day I had Kabota, he slipped right out the front door and went running down the street towards a very busy road. I know better than to check the d*mn mail with the door open, but he seemed so calm, so unlikely to try anything. The only reason I caught him is because he was in terrible physical condition and had very little muscle in his back end.

Personally, I'm a big fan of harnesses now. Having read about the potential damage to the thyroid/trachea/eyes that collars can cause, I've moved to using a harness and I'm happy with it. Harnesses have the added advantage that if the dog does slip the harness, he'll still have a collar with tags on.
So glad your dog is safe and sound.

Like everyone else has said, I think something similar has happened to most of us at one time or another.
My first foster slipped her collar when she darted in fear and fortunately came when called- I got her a harness for walking and left the collar for the tags.
I had another foster go UNDER a chain link fence while I was standing there... never imagined a 60 lbs dog could fit through a 3 inch gap but I got to chase that silly boy around the neighborhood for a half hour. He had a collar but no tags since they hadn't dropped off his ID tags yet.
I have also had a prong collar pop open, the dog just ran over to play with another dog and she still had her martingale collar with tags on it.

I have learned this:
Always a flat or no-slip (depending on head size) martingale (the flat kind without a chain) with the tags on it. Never attach the leash to this.
If using a prong collar, use a small carabiner to clip it to a choke chain or to a martingale. The choke chain will not engage unless the prong pops open. Also use a choke chain as a backup collar if the dog has strictly a flat collar that could go over his head or one with a crappy buckle (not anything I would buy but dogs come to me with varied equipment)
If I am going to walk the dog on a flat collar, I use a second wide collar in addition to the "tag collar", the wider (2 inch nylon) ones are easier on their throats.

I prefer to walk on a harness, not so much for the no-slip factor as some harnesses aren't very hard to back out of, but to protect their necks/throats and make it easier to control a dog that tries to dart. I also buckle them into the car using a tie-out safe harness and a carabiner (weight bearing for human climbing activities) - aside from the obvious safety help while driving, it means that I can open the car door without fear of them leaping out and darting away.

the best no-slip harness I have found is the Ruffwear Webmaster. The second underbelly strap makes it virtually impossible to back out of and no amount of rolling around has managed to shift it anywhere near enough to get loose.

This is my "full" gear set-up for Chester. He doesn't often end up wearing it all- but in various combinations depending on the situation. The little red thing on his harness is a motion/dark activated flashing safety light.
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I also buckle them into the car using a tie-out safe harness and a carabiner (weight bearing for human climbing activities) - aside from the obvious safety help while driving, it means that I can open the car door without fear of them leaping out and darting away.
I do the same in the car and at this point Jubel is used to me opening the back door, reaching forward to hit the front door button to lock the doors, close the front door, then un-clip him so he waits nicely. It's now habit for me to take my time in this process. Took my foster Duncan to the pet store a few days ago to get his nails trimmed and the social experience of walking around the store a bit. This was his first car trip in a harness and clipped in. He did fine when we arrived at the store and waited for me to un-clip him. When we got home after I opened the back door and moved to hit the button to lock the doors Duncan made a jump for it out of the car. The tether caught him before he could reach the ground. Poor thing had no clue what was going on and just whimpered and cried until I lifted him back into the back seat and released him.
I have also had a prong collar pop open, the dog just ran over to play with another dog and she still had her martingale collar with tags on it.
Yes that's why I decided to double collar training dogs (prong/marti) as there is nothing worse than walking from kennel to training bldg and when you look down, there you are alone at the training bldg door with a dog rolling around in the grass behind you just laughing his/her butt off. It does make one feel a tad silly.
I used a choke collar on Buddy cuz he was previously bad about slipping his collar :/ he wasnt a Leah's puller, so it was a pretty safe
Well, Jameson decided to prove you all right that dogs can easily slip their harnesses. This time was a lot less dramatic though, and I wasn't here for it - my husband was walking him with just the harness (he kept trying to convince me the harness would be just fine on it's own... stubborn man). This time though he was only in my backyard, and, according to my husband, he came right up onto the porch and into the house with a little bit of food-related coaxing. On the up-side though, there are two positive things that come out of incident number 2:
1. We know now that he considers our house "home," because he came right towards the house instead of trying to go in the other direction. This just kind of makes me feel a little fuzzy inside, especially with how difficult and distant he's been.
2. My husband is finally convinced that the harness isn't enough, and now finally agrees with me (and all of you) that he needs the martingale and/or two leashes clipped into two different things. For now, we're using a chain collar and the harness until the martingale arrives (it should be coming tomorrow).

Alas, I would have preferred to avoid any further incidents, but at least this time was way less traumatic (and I wasn't the one who had to deal with it), and at least now my husband will stop giving me "pacifying the crazy lady" looks when I tell him that we really, really need the martingale.
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I had something terrifying happen, too....so I really know how much you need a hug and not a flame!

My husband left early for the farm on his motorcycle one morning, so I had to walk both dogs. That morning I decided to walk them together.

There was some sort of leash malfunction, and it detached form the harness. Bob took off after some kids he knows in the neighborhood as if it were a jailbreak! I called his name and he looked back over his shoulder like "What? I always play with them!" (true) Sacha was still with me, but having a fit wanting to run after Bob and the kids who were now very confused as I shouted in my heavily-accented Portuguese "GIVE HIM" instead of "GRAB HIM".

Bob ran into the main street, barely dodging one motorcycle and bringing a car and 2 other motorcycles to a halt. I was so terrified and felt quite helpless to ask for help or even answer the dirt y looks as all my Portuguese flew out the window in my terror.

As luck would have it, my husband had dropped by his brother's house, and circled back before heading out. In that time his motorcycle tire went flat, so he was walking up the road! It was an amazing coincidence. My husband just looked at Bob and said "Git!" And pointed to me and Bob ran back- THANK GOODNESS. I re-hooked him up and sat on the ground and cried. When we went home, we used some horse rigging to make our set-up safer.

And we replaced the defective leash!

Those MArtingales sound cool-- I haven't found them in Brazil yet, but I'll keep looking.
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Glad all is well! Don't beat yourself up about it - we can only hope we learn from our mistakes! I'm sure your puppy will come around and know how much you care.
I'd love to see a pic off the little guy, he sounds cute :)

i dont know of a dog person who hasnt had that 'oh sh**t' moment when a dog slips a collar or backs out of a harness, its a heart-in-the-throat moment for sure :S
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