Should I walk my pet in a collar or harness?
Updated: May 24
It's important to choose the right equipment when walking your pet. However, the biggest piece of advice I have for you: LEASH TRAIN YOUR DOG. There are no easy solutions when it comes to training. Time and patience are the very best antidotes for a dog pulling on the leash problem. Find a trainer and get to work. Now that the obvious is out of the way, let me go over several piece of equipment you may use when leash training.
The list is long of cons when walking in only a simple neck collar. Neck collars pull on the delicate structures of the neck. These collars also can cause a choking hazard. I see many dogs that pull on the leash have upper cervical and neck misalignments due to the neck collar torquing the spine. Neck collars should only be used on a dog that is already advanced leash trained.
Here are some variations of neck collars that are in no particular order of intensity. Neck collars with a double loop are called martingales (the red collar.) This works by tightening the circumference around the neck if the dog pulls. The other collars are more intense variations. The chain collar is a moderate intensity neck collar tool that is more severe the thinner the chain links are. The fatter the links are, the more surface area there is and therefore the more gentle the training aid. (Think my finger pressing on you versus my whole hand at once.) The prong collar is the most severe of the neck collar training tools and should only be used in experienced hands.
T shaped front clip harness
Slightly better on the ranking than a neck collar, however, this harness (and variations) work by "pulling the rug" out from under your dog. Especially if you only clip on the front, this harness works on pulling your dogs' legs out from under them. If your harness only clips around the front legs (glasses shaped/figure 8 style) this is especially true. I find this causes shoulder problems and lower back strain (as the dog has to quickly catch their balance). If it also clips onto the neck collar, this causes the head to be pulled down and the legs to be pulled out from under them at the same time. I see this type of harness used the most with inexperienced animal owners.
Face harnesses offer immediate results for most pet owners, but should only be used in experienced hands. The face harness shown works like a horse halter and allows for maximum control of the head. I like this harness for dogs that need a "quick respect" lesson when walking on the leash. It stimulates acupuncture points around the base of the head that leads to fast relaxation for many dogs. However, this harness does have a tendency to impinge on delicate olfactory and respiratory structures of the snout and can cause upper cervical misalignments if used improperly. Please consult a trainer if you are going to use this training tool.
These kinds of harnesses are great for quick respect lessons, as well. What I DON'T LIKE about these is that they can forcefully pull the head back and tighten around the chest which can impede respiratory function. These are also still a choking hazard.
This is my go to if you are starting on leash training. I don't have a preference for brand, but I do like WIDE SURFACE AREA as opposed to thin. These kinds of harnesses diffuse force evenly across the chest to deter from pulling. They also don't put pressure on the neck. This is THE MOST GENTLE piece of equipment you can use when training your pet to walk on the leash.
I hope this article helped you some in your quest to find a training tool that works for your pet. Please contact me if you have a tool that was not mentioned! I cannot stress enough that good training is the best fix for any dog that needs to learn to walk quietly on the leash.
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