Other Than A Leash
Other Than A Leash
So now that we have discussed engaging your dog during walks, here is a short description of other items you should have with you and how to dress your dog for any walk. If your dog walks alongside you calmly and rarely or never pulls, you can feel free to use whatever collar you like as it is not changing your dog’s behavior. Most people prefer a flat nylon or leather collar and they come in a variety of colors. All dogs, regardless of skill level, should wear a well-fitted flat collar with identification tags and your contact information. However, most dogs should not have their leash clipped to that collar. Here are a few basic walking tools you can consider to use and a short description of what they do:
1. Front clip harness: there are a few varieties of this product on the market today. At Perfect Pooch, we carry the Premier Easy Walk© Harness but there are also the Walk in Sync© and Freedom© brands. While they all look slightly different, they all work in the same way. They have a D ring in the front of the chest strap for the leash to clip to so that the dog is turned back around to the owner slightly when they pull too far forward and tighten the leash. This style harness is appropriate for dogs who often pull on leash, as it protects their throat and gives you some leverage over their strength.
2. Face collar: this also comes in a few varieties. We carry the Premier Gentle Leader© which is a simple two strap face collar that goes behind the dog’s ears and around their snout. There are a few other options which have more straps and cater to dogs with shorter faces such as the Halti© or Newtrix©. In general though, the principle of the face collar is to control your dog’s face and thus their body similarly to the way a bridle fits a horse. By guiding your dog’s face you have the most control over their actions, but unlike a muzzle there is no restriction to breathing or using their mouth. This is the best option for very strong pulling dogs or dogs who seem to follow their nose every which way.
3. No pull harness: similar to the front clip harness, the no pull harness is designed for dogs who are moderate pullers and generally uses a control strap near the underarm area to prevent pulling. My favorite no pull harness is the Sporn© Harness, as it takes the least training for your dog to be accustomed to wearing it and has appropriate padding under the arm straps, though there are a variety of styles on the market.
4. Martingale: a martingale collar is also known as a partial slip or partial choke collar, as it has a small loop of chain or nylon that can tighten to a degree. Unlike a typical slip or choke collar, a martingale collar cannot continue to tighten endlessly. Martingale collars are typically used for dogs who have slender heads and necks that can escape easily from a traditional flat collar- like a greyhound or whippet.
5. Slip collars and prong collars: all mammals are born with the innate ability to avoid hazards to some degree. This is why you can see tiny day old puppies all piled together or all spread out as they avoid being too cold or too hot. These types of collars use your dog’s innate ability to avoid a hazard, discomfort in this case, to prevent poor leash behavior, though they do not necessarily teach better behavior. These tools can be effective with proper guidance and training so be sure you understand how to use these tools before buying them, as they have the potential to be used incorrectly.
At the end of the day all of these tools are meant to help you teach your dog to walk calmly on leash. Using an appropriate collar or harness can help you while you teach your dog and eventually any of them can be phased out once your dog understands what a leash walk is for- to enjoy being outside with you not to go off on their own adventures dragging you behind. Always use a leash that is comfortable in your hands, not a bulky handle or rope that might hurt after a few minutes, and try to stick to a 5 – 8ft leash. Retractable leashes are not appropriate for walking dogs anywhere near other people or dogs and can increase pulling behavior. I also recommend avoiding harnesses that clip behind your dog unless it is a specific no pull harness as these too can increase pulling. Standard harnesses are really only appropriate for small breeds that risk injury with a collar, for dogs off leash in safe areas or who do not pull at all. Think of the style harness that huskies wear to pull sleds and you’ll see why you might not want to give your dog that kind of leverage. Always remember that your dog is your responsibility, so carry clean up bags and water whenever you go out. If you have any questions about what gear best suits your dog, please don’t hesitate to ask. Our training department is here to support you and your dog.
Head Trainer- Perfect Pooch
BA, CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator