9.06.2012

Loose Leash Walking Equipment: Harnesses



Often, dog owners will get a harness to help their dog. Sometimes the dog is pulling excessively, or is choking himself, but the type of harness matters significantly to help curb problem behaviors while walking.



This harness clips to the back, is made of nylon, and is REALLY comfortable - 
especially if the dog enjoys pulling on a leash 


Compare the above harness, which clips to the back of the dog, stretchy, padded in all the right places to the harnesses in the below photograph, which clip to the back of the dog, are stretchy, and padded in all the right places.



"Wheeee! Pulling is FUN!" 

I'm going write about other walking devices in follow up posts (Harnesses, Head Collars, Aversive Collars, and Other Training Tools) so you can hopefully find the right walking/training device for you and your pup.

Harnesses:

There are thousands of harnesses to chose from - some of them stating that they are "No Pull", some are nylon and stretchy, and many are just damned cute. Some are step-in harnesses, and some slide over the head of the dog. The possibilities are endless!






Puppia Harness 




Rogz-Dogz Utility Harness 



If you have a dog that walks beautifully on leash, doesn't pull, and is trained to walk with you, a standard back attach harness might be a good option for you (see the options above). Our greyhound walks with a back clip harness because he does not pull, and has a neck injury that tends to get aggravated when he is walked with his standard collar.

If, however, walking your dog feels like a form of medieval torture, you might wish to try a harness designed to take some of the ease out of the pull (and your rotator cuff).





Sensation Harness. Available at some boutiques and online. Fits better on adolescent and skinnier chested dogs than the more commercially available Easy Walk.






Easy Walk Harness. More commercially available than the Sensation, not appropriate for "skinny" dogs . Better for dogs with a broader chest.






Sporn No-Pull Mesh Harness: Pulls the front legs up when the dog pulls. Some dogs are sensitive to the pressure put on the legs, and it can chafe.


I'm a huge fan of the Sense-ation Harness. This harness is a front clip design, where the leash attaches to the chest of the dog instead of on the back. When the dog pulls, his momentum is stopped. I used a harness like this on our Border Collie with fantastic success. Some other examples include the Easy Walk Harness (from our friends at Premier, and clips to the chest) , and the Sporn Harness (clips to the back, pulls dogs front legs off the ground when they pull).

It's important to note that some dogs suddenly and miraculously walk much better when on a harness. However, most dogs will do well with this equipment as a device to help TRAIN the dog not to pull. There are several humane methods to teach your dog not to pull. This is one of my favorite methods for real life training outside.




Pros:
-The leash attaches to a ring on the back or chest of the dog, leaving the esophagus, airway, and neck vertebrae at minimal risk of injury.

-For dogs with spinal injuries or other medical conditions, this is a good alternative for walking with a collar around the neck.

-Some sports or work require the dog to be in a harness (Skijoring, Tracking, or Search and Rescue work to name a few), and all of these harnesses encourage pulling. This is a "pro" if you are engaged in an activity/sport where you need the dog to pull.

-Many of the Chest Clip harnesses (like Sensation and Easy Walk) slide comfortably over the head of the dog - no more pulling the harness through each of the front legs.


Cons:

-If you have the wrong harness, it can encourage pulling behaviors, making it difficult to walk your dog.

-Step-In Harnesses are inconvenient to get on and off of a dog.

-Can cause chafing in some dogs.



Stay tuned for more on walking devices!


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Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA is a certified dog trainer in Somerville, MA and can be found teaching dogs through the Boston/North area.