You may be using these dog walking tools wrong!

Flat collars, martingales, harnesses and halti’s. There are so many different walking tools out there that it can become quite confusing for dog owners to choose, let alone actually use them! I know when I was leash training my dog (Stretch, a mini Dachshund) I went through quite a few different styles only to find out that it was easier just to walk him on a flat collar and lead. But before that, I tried a harness because apparently their gentler on backs, a check chain because he pulled a lot and I thought I would train him with it, a martingale collar because I though the check chain was too harsh and finally, a slip lead.

I knew what each of the tools were designed for but what I didn’t realise at the time was that it was easier just to teach him to walk nicely. You can teach your dog to accept and walk calmly using any tool you like, it’s all down to personal preference of you and your dog. I had no issues walking using a harness, but Stretch hated it. Therefore, no more harness. He was comfortable on a  collar, so was I. Collar was the winner.

Commonly Used Tools  
The Flat Collar & Lead
– A safe 24 hour ID tag holder. Easy for you to use and most dogs and puppies have no issues wearing one. Make sure you can easily slip two fingers between the collar and your dogs neck to ensure a comfy yet effective fit, Too loose and your dog could become entangled.
Harness
– Removes neck pressure but in turn can encourage your dog to pull. Remember to stop moving forward as soon as your dog pulls otherwise they’ll learn pulling = forward!
Some dogs find them uncomfortable and will require some getting used to.
 
Martingale Collar
– A flat collar/check chain hybrid. It’s a safer alternative to a full check chain as it can only close so far, but will tighten when they pull so it’s recommended you use it under a trainers instruction.
 
Choke / Check Chain
– Designed for the old school ‘correction training’ method. Not really recommended any more as there are better training methods now. Not recommended for dogs that pull.
 
No Pull Harness
– It sits around the body like a normal harness but features a ‘no pull’ system. Each brand works slightly differently but will incorporate a disliked sensation when the dog pulls such as pressure under the armpits sometimes resulting in a small dog lifting themselves off the ground. They can be used on big dogs but I don’t think they work as well just due to their weight.
 
Head Collar
– Basically the same as a horse head collar as it is fitted around the dogs muzzle and neck giving you a greater control over their head. These work well on large dogs that pull as you’re not having to try to control the weight of their body. (Just like in horses)
 

 

Health Issues?
Some breeders will recommend a specific walking tool for their breed, quite often it is due to common health issues associated with the dogs breed.  For example, Brachycephalic dogs (Squished nosed dogs) or dogs with delicate necks such as Italian Greyhounds are commonly walked on harnesses in fear they may hurt themselves on other walking tools. If you’ve taught your dog to walk properly, they should not be pulling there for eliminating the pressure a collar could place on the dogs neck. If your dog has been diagnosed with a Collapsed Trachea or some other throat related condition then by all means use the tool suggested by your vet.

So there you have it…
For all of you who have been using a harness on their Great Dane in the quest to stop them from pulling you down the street, perhaps there is a more suited walking tool out there for you. Ultimately, use what you and your dog find comfortable, a lot of people prefer harnesses and their dogs walk comfortably with them and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I believe you can teach your dog to walk using any tool but, what you must do is teach them not to pull. For their own safety and yours.

And as always…