Harness - A collar alternative for a great walk!
The best collar may not be a collar at all! You have just adopted your four-legged soul mate and now you need a new collar. There are several types:
• Rolled collars are the flat standard collar with a buckle or plastic clip
• Martingales are similar to rolled collars but have a chain that will tighten it around the dog’s neck when you pull on the leash. It’s often hard to correct with this type of collar as you must have the right length leash to have an impact
• Prong or choke collars which are painful to the dogs and we strongly encourage you to avoid.
Correcting your dog with pain is discouraged – instead try positive reinforcement in your training. It’s much more effective and less painful for both your dog and you.
The collar you choose will depend on your dog and in fact, the collar you need may not be a collar at all.
While on a lovely walk with my sweet Max, I saw a neighbor walking – rather – being walked by their dog. There was a great deal of pulling and tugging going on and in frustration my neighbor cut short their evening walk. It occurred to me that it was a real shame that the two of them missed out on the chance to enjoy a beautiful evening greeting other dogs and neighbors. Fortunately there’s a solution. The collar you need may in fact be a harness.
A properly fitting harness will make your dog comfortable and encourage them to stop pulling so that you can both enjoy that walk. A harness will take the strain off your dog’s neck. It can also help keep both you and your pup from becoming tangled in a leash and injuring one or both of you. Using the harness with a front attaching leash is a great training aid. When your dog gets ahead of you and starts pulling to chase a squirrel, turn and walk the other way and the harness redirects the dog’s attention back to you – without painful pulling on her neck or your arm.
A harness should allow freedom of movement while providing comfort for the dog. Look for a harness that allows you to adjust in several areas to fit your pet best. Flexibility of leash attachments (either front or back rings) is another plus to look for. Most important is comfort for your pet and you. Be sure to remove the harness when your walk is done.
While there are many brands available, three have been used by local trainers that frequently work with GRRMF as well as many of our dogs in rescue. Here are links to the websites for three harnesses for you to determine what works best for your budget and dog.
How to fit the Balance Harness – Video
Balance Harness- PDF
A wonderful harness review can be found at Whole Dog Journal.
Please remember: Even if you use a harness, be sure to have a standard collar and identification on your dog at all times.
By: Susan Tucker