Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Under pressure: Harness for guide dogs must suit both dog, owner

Date:
January 2, 2014
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Guide dogs require about four years of training and fully trained animals can cost over 30,000 Euro in Europe. It is thus important for financial reasons, as well as for animal welfare considerations, to ensure that guide dogs are comfortable in their work. A proper harness that enables good communication between the blind person and the dog is an important factor in the animal’s well-being, while a poorly fitting harness may result in health problems and impaired communication between dog and owner.

Scientists found that the pressure on the right side of a dog's chest may equate to up to 10 per cent of the animal's weight. In contrast, the dog's back experiences far less pressure. Very rigid harnesses enable quick and finely tuned communication between dogs and owners but cause stress to the animals.
Credit: © Boris Djuranovic / Fotolia

Guide dogs lend their eyes to blind people, enabling them to find their way around in an environment they cannot see. Guide dogs require about four years of training and fully trained animals can cost over 30,000 Euro. It is thus important for financial reasons as well as because of animal welfare considerations to ensure that guide dogs are comfortable in their work. A proper harness that enables good communication between the blind person and the dog is an important factor in the animal's well-being, while a poorly fitting harness may result in health problems and impaired communication between dog and owner.

The dog's chest experiences the most tension

Barbara Bockstahler, Christian Peham and colleagues examined the distribution of pressure in working guide dogs by placing pressure sensors beneath the harnesses. Eight guide dogs were filmed with a trainer while climbing steps, avoiding obstacles, turning left and right and walking straight ahead. To visualize the movements, the animals, the trainers and the harnesses were equipped with reflective markers. The positions of the markers were recorded by a total of ten cameras.

The results showed that the bottom right of the animals' chests is particularly stressed. As Bockstahler explains, "Guide dogs walk under constant tension. They are usually on their owners' right and in front of them." The scientists found that the pressure on the right side of a dog's chest may equate to up to 10 per cent of the animal's weight. In contrast, the dog's back experiences far less pressure. "It is important for guide dogs to exercise regularly without a harness to compensate for the lopsided pressure they experience in their work," says Bockstahler.

Flexible harnesses cause less stress

Very rigid harnesses enable quick and finely tuned communication between dogs and owners but cause stress to the animals. The more stiffly the harness is anchored to the handle, the more pressure the animal experiences. The most comfortable harness relies on a hook-and-loop connection, which provides the least pressure on the dog, although for long-haired dogs a plastic clip version is favourable. Rigid metal links are the most stressful for the animals and one of the harnesses tested even restricted the movement of the spine and the front limbs. As Peham notes, "The importance of matching the dog to its owner is well known: the blind person should suit the dog not only in character but also in size. But it seems that the choice of harness is also vital. Flexible and adjustable harnesses, e.g. with telescopic handles, are ideal." Of course, the choice of harness is not always straightforward and Peham is quick to recognize the need to extend the group's research, "We should study guide dogs for a longer period of time to find out whether any of the harnesses are associated with long-term problems in the animals. We are still looking for partners and sponsors for the work."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Peham, S. Limbeck, K. Galla, B. Bockstahler. Pressure distribution under three different types of harnesses used for guide dogs. The Veterinary Journal, 2013; 198: e93 DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.09.040

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Under pressure: Harness for guide dogs must suit both dog, owner." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112237.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2014, January 2). Under pressure: Harness for guide dogs must suit both dog, owner. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112237.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Under pressure: Harness for guide dogs must suit both dog, owner." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112237.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins