There are many different collars and harnesses out there to use for your dog and like it or not there are times when your dog really does need to be on a lead when you are out walking.
We are very fortunate here in Wanaka to be able to have our dog off lead on many tracks and it is this freedom that I believe has a lot to do with our many well socialised dogs. Meeting and greeting on lead is, for the dog, more threatening as they know they cannot get away if they feel uncomfortable and we, as humans, usually approach head-on, meaning the dogs are meeting head-to-head. In fact, dogs prefer to sniff bottoms and get some information about the other dog before greeting head-on. When my dog is off lead my rule is: if the other dog approaching is on lead there may be a good reason for that, so my dog will also go back on lead until we pass.
But I digress. When your dog is on lead what collar should they be wearing? Well I am a bit of a purist and I believe dogs should be taught to walk nicely on a normal collar, without pulling. However, having said that, I do realise it is one of the hardest things to teach your dog. So often I am told, “I do not need a lead as I can get the dog to walk nicely beside me off lead.” I can too, but that is actually easier than getting your dog to walk on lead beside you, nicely and without pulling and there are just times your dog needs to be on a lead.
If your dog is pulling constantly it can damage their oesophagus and choke chains are no better than normal collars—especially as most people use them inappropriately. Some people resort to a harness with the clip on the back. While this is better for the dog’s neck and throat, back-clipping harnesses are designed for dogs to pull!
By far the best equipment you could purchase would be a good front-clipping harness such as a Gentle Leader or Halti. The dog cannot pull into those as long as you have it fitted correctly and it makes walking with your dog on lead a much more pleasant experience.
As long as your dog is practising pulling on a lead, like anything with lots of practice, they are getting better and better at it, so break the habit and use the front-clipping harness every time you go out, or train your dog to walk nicely on a collar. You can do both—just make sure EVERY time you go out for a walk your dog is not pulling you. Remember it is you with the bigger brain to think up the solutions. It is you who is in charge.
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