First things first, there are a couple of key pieces of equipment needed for dog-centric walks; a well-fitting harness, and a long leash (3 metres is a minimum, but 5 or 10 metres would be ideal).
Why these? Let’s start with the leash. A long leash allows the dog to explore the environment without the accompanying human needing to venture into every patch of forest, lake or mud patch along with the dog. It also allows the dog to vary pace comfortably and independently while the human counterpart can walk along at their own pace. The human’s main role in the walk is simply to ensure the dog’s safety; keeping an eye out for possible hazards, such as traffic, bicycles, scooters, dangerous terrain or anything the dog might try to eat that they shouldn’t.
Speaking of safety…that is where the harness comes in. A harness provides better control for the owner and more comfort for the dog. While the need for pulling your dog or even walking with a short, tight leash should be very rare in dog-centric walks, it’s understandable that it may be necessary in certain situations to ensure the dog’s safety. Long leash walks and allowing the dog to explore freely may also result in the odd encounter with rabbits, deer, or other wildlife, which could consequently trigger the dog’s instinctual prey drive causing it to give chase to said “prey”. If that does happen, the leash would run out of length eventually…if you were running after something while tethered to a rope, when the rope runs out of length would you rather have the energy of your velocity snap at your neck or your torso?
To drive home my point about harnesses, I’ll pose another question; have you ever seen a piece of safety equipment for humans, which attaches at the neck? I hope not. Rock climbers, parachuters, or anybody who has to ascend to high places for work or hobbies all wear safety harnesses, not safety collars. Just like the long leash is primarily a piece of safety equipment for your dog, so is whatever the leash attaches to, so please do not attach it to the dog’s neck.