Dog Walking Gear Essentials

COLLARS

  • We recommend flat buckle collars – required for our classes.
  • We do not recommend choke chains, prong collars or shock collars because they are stressful for dogs and can hurt them. While these collars may temporarily suppress behavior like barking or pulling, they don’t address the underlying behavioral issue and they don’t teach your dog alternative behavior.
  • One of the biggest drawbacks of using corrective collars is that they can have unintended consequences. A dog who gets a leash pop or shock when he starts to bark and lunge at other dogs, for example, starts to associate other dogs with pain, which increases his stress without teaching him any acceptable behaviors.

So what should you use if your dog pulls so hard you can’t walk her safely? We can teach you how to train your dog to walk nicely on a leash in training sessions, but in the meantime, here are a few options that often help:

  • Martingale collars have a loop that tightens around dog’s neck just enough so that he can’t wiggle out of his collar when he pulls, but not enough to choke him or hurt him. These collars are also good for dogs with narrow heads and necks like greyhounds. Harnesses (see below) can also help.

HARNESSES

  • No-pull harnesses like EasyWalk harnesses and Freedom harnesses have rings in the front (dog’s chest) instead of the back, so when your dog pulls, he ends up pulling himself around in your direction rather than away from you.
  • Traditional harnesses with rings in the back promote pulling because they attach the leash to the dog’s back, his center of gravity. We sometimes recommend these harnesses for reactive dogs (dogs that bark and lunge at other dogs) if the dogs are small as they make it easier for us to move dogs away from the trigger more quickly.
  • Head collars like the Halti and Gentle Leader, which fasten around the dog’s muzzle, enable you to control your dog by controlling his head (like a horse’s bridle). They are not our first choice because so many dogs dislike them. If nothing else works, however, we can show you how to introduce the head collar in a way that your dog will accept calmly.

LEASHES

  • We recommend 4-foot or 6-foot leashes. Eileen especially likes hands-free leashes (leashes that attach to a type of belt that has pockets for treats, keys, water and poop bags) in combination with leashes that stretch (like bungee cord)
  • We don’t recommend retractable leashes because they have caused so many injuries; you can get cuts, burns, gashes, and broken bones from grabbing or tangling up in the leash.
  • We sometimes use 20- to 50-foot lines (like regular leashes only longer) for training dogs recall (coming when called)

MOST OF ALL….

  • Whenever you take your dogs out in public, make sure their ID tags have up-to-date information
  • If you microchip your dog (highly recommended), keep your contact information up to date.

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