Recently, I had a client ask me about my favorite type of collars and harnesses that I use to walk dogs. This is a great question because I often see people using “equipment” that isn’t working optimally for the dog. Here’s a list of my favorites and why they work well.
If your dog’s neck is similar thickness to his head and you find that he is able to slip out of properly-fitted flat collar, a Martingale collar can be used as a good safety measure. This collar has a main loop that goes around the dog’s neck, and a smaller loop that tightens if the dog pulls against the leash preventing him from slipping out of it. Of course, train your dog not to pull on the leash by using a high-value treat to reward him when walking on a slack leash, but this collar can serve as a nice safety net.
The first harness that I recommend is the Easy Walk Harness by Petsafe. This is a front-leash-clip training harness to use with dogs that have mild to moderate problems with pulling. The front clip steers the dog in the direction you want him to go. For instance, I have a dog that I walk that is generally well-behaved on the leash but will pull when he sees a tasty morsel on the ground and attempts to dive for it. I fitted him in an Easy Walk harness which helped to minimize those pulling tendencies so I can work to reinforce loose walking skills and keep him focused on me with treats.
Lastly, one of my favorite harnesses is the Gentle Leader, also made by Petsafe. The Gentle Leader is a great option for moderate to more intense pullers, as it helps you control the dog’s head and thus their attention so that you can work with them on their leash skills. This harness is similar to a halter on horse – it has a loop that when correctly adjusted, fits comfortably over the snout, a strap that is secured at the base of the skull. Correct fit and a gradual introduction using treats are good ideas with any new equipment that you use on your dog, but it is especially critical with the Gentle Leader. There are many videos on YouTube that detail how to correctly fit this harness and ways to introduce it so your dog will be comfortable and happy wearing it.
Using proper equipment can help you walk your dog in a safer and more enjoyable way. Harnesses can eliminate pressure on a dog’s trachea, a properly fit harness or Martingale collar can help reduce the risk of your dog escaping from equipment and running into danger. It is very important to remember, however, that no equipment will replace working with your dog to teach him proper leash behaviors. It’s unlikely that good collars and leashes alone will eliminate undesirable leash-walking behaviors, so make sure you find a type of treat that your dog really loves, and bring those along to with you to reinforce good behaviors! Proper equipment choices and positive reinforcement can work very effectively to correct undesirable behaviors. If you have a dog that has extreme leash-walking issues I recommend working with a professional dog behaviorist or dog trainer.
About the Author:
Sara Unverfehrt is the owner of PoodleROO Pet Sitting & Dog Walking, LLC, a professional pet care provider serving Uptown, New Orleans, LA. A Purdue graduate, she worked in various corporate settings for 10 years before bouncing open the doors of PoodleRoo 3 years ago! She was raised to be an animal-lover – Her dad was constantly taking in some poor, dumped animal and finding a home for the critter. (Dogs, cats, rabbits, even a couple of mules!)