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  • Writer's pictureDebra Kossoff


Updated: May 8, 2023

Collars and Harnesses and Related Walking Gear, “Oh, My!”

It depends…what type of walking gear will work best for your particular, individual dog. I emphasize the words “particular” and “individual” here because different dogs will have different reactions to different walking gear depending on the following factors:

  • The quality of the gear

  • Its design and fit

  • How it’s introduced and used

You can quickly reject any walking equipment that causes pain/discomfort to your dog including:

  • Shock collars (aka “e-collars”)

  • Prong collars

  • “No pull” harnesses that tighten around the dog’s barrel

In addition to that general list, add any gear your dog finds divisive and hates since this will prevent him/her from happily learning and cooperating with how to walk nicely on a leash with you.

Some equipment like head halters need to be introduced appropriately so a positive association is made with them but if you’re not willing to spend the time doing that and the dog hates it, ditch it and move on to something else. Similarly, if vibration collars are not introduced positively they can be considered aversive. Most dogs are okay with a regular harness but don’t use it if your dog runs away from it when you go to pick it up; they’re telling you they don’t like it.

Many dog trainers prefer properly fitted Martingale collars and front and/or back clip harnesses.

Follow these simple guidelines for choosing walking gear for dogs with the following tendencies:

  • Dogs who pull - Flat collars or back-clip harnesses

  • Dogs who back out of their collar - Martingale Collars

  • Dogs who pull - Front clip harness, and head halters, and vibration collars (for those okay with them)

  • Dogs who play/wrestle with mouth-to-neck biting - breakaway collars

  • Puppies - a harness so as not to put excess pressure on their tender throat

Perhaps the most important other than a choice of gear is teaching the skill of loose leash walking” with a certified dog trainer.

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