THERE are loads of you out there that are breaking the law.

You may quite probably be doing it completely unwittingly, with the best possible intentions, but I doubt that would be a valid defence in court.

Not only are you doing something criminal, you are damaging your shoulders, increasing your likelihood of a serious fall, putting your veterinary surgeon at risk and giving your dog absolutely the wrong impression.

Dogs Trust and a million websites haven’t helped you (indeed, they actually encouraged you) and now there is no going back.

I am referring, of course, to the use of harnesses on dogs, which has become quite the fashion, more’s the pity.

It all started when someone who didn’t know very much about animal welfare, but had a first class masters degree in marketing, decided that it was not humane to have dogs pulling on their collars so, instead of suggesting proper lead training, an easier, instant alternative was proposed. You will probably already have gathered that I am not a fan for lots of reasons.

First and foremost, it seems very obvious to me that if you want to properly control a horse, you use a bridle and have its large body required to follow its small nose. If you would like it to feel strong and drag a plough about, you put it in a harness so that its body does the work and the nose doesn’t matter.

Now take your average large, unruly dog. Do the same for it and harness those shoulders and all its owner needs is a skateboard, so they can be pulled about at great speed anywhere the dog likes.

Pulled being the critical word. While trained dogs walk at their owner’s side on a loose slip lead, the harnessed dogs pull. They pull you off the pavement, in front of the bus, across the road to the discarded half eaten pizza, and they pull you straight into the consulting room whereupon it is quite impossible for vets to properly restrain them, never mind find a patch of skin to inject.

Similarly, harnesses have to be removed whenever dogs have to lie for any length of time (such as during a surgical procedure) and then you need a bloomin’ first class masters degree in quantum physics and an ‘A’ pass Higher in origami to work out how to get them back on.

And then there is the matter of the law that I mentioned earlier. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that ‘the owner of a dog or the person in charge of a dog that is not wearing a collar which provides the details of the owner in a public place shall be guilty of an offence’.

So there you have it. Even if your dog is microchipped. Even if the harness is camouflaged, has a fancy handle and weighs more than the QE2. Even if it doesn’t suit you, you still need a proper collar (unless you are a working dog.)

Please. Make me happy.

And don’t even start me on Flexi leads…