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Harness or Collar, what do you use for walks?

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In regards to walking your dog, what do you use?  My 6 month old pup (large breed rescue cross breed) I use a flat collar, as he (mostly) walks nicely, and doesn't pull ( unless he wants to sniff something in the park that is near him but we are walking the other way kind of thing) but we also do a short walk (2 mins) to the puppy park a few times a week, so I always just take his collar off to play there.

In recent posts I've read that prongs/check chains etc can be less damaging than a flat collar if used correctly.  ( I won't use either of these, as there's no need for me to do so, and I'm not a fan of the Halti collar either for my dog)

 

But I've heard that the front attaching harnesses are quite good, I do have a few different harnesses from when I had my old dog (car harness, back attached harness etc)....so just looking for suggestions, as I don't want to potentially hurt his neck with the flat collar.

Any suggestions for a good front attaching harness?  What do you like/dislike about your preferred equipment for walking your dog?

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asal   

depends on your dog really, there is an hilarious video doing the rounds on facebook. her dog decided to chase the ducks and dragged her into the water, give her, her due, she never let go and as she slid into the water hooked her heels into the rocks and finally won.

 

soggy walk home though.

Edited by asal

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Snook   

I walk Justice on a flat collar. He might occasionally pull in the first minute or so after we get out of the car at the park but it's more to sniff something exciting close by than walking any distance. He's an old man now though and easy to walk. When I first got him almost 11 years ago he pulled like a freight train and I tried a few front attach harnesses on him before and then while I was teaching him to walk nicely, as otherwise he'd choke himself with the pulling. A couple really rubbed him under the arms so I stopped using them (one was the Black Dog brand I think).  The Soft Touch SENSE-ation front attach harness was much better for him and didn't rub his skin. I think they're great as in interim training tool but I would always take it off if he was going off leash, so it didn't hinder him or rub when running. 

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We use a sporn easy fit harness, it’s nicely padded, doesn’t rub under the armpits or pull on the neck in any way.

I personally dislike any head collar/halti type devices, check chains or no pull harnesses that squeeze under the armpits.

 

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The reports I’ve read was chains could be the most damaging of the lot, followed by prongs then standard flats. They didn’t mention head collars but I think they were done before head collars started becoming a thing popular enough to measure. I keep waiting for some solid research on head collars to start rolling into these kinds of studies. 

 

One that I was reading (or maybe two and I’m mentally combining them) the results were the strain from collars showing in eye tension, pain based irritability and sore front legs. And that a significant amount of aggressive dogs were found rather simply to be in neck pain. It made me wonder if on thistles more irritable days that could be a factor? Both primal paws and dog wellness centre found she had lots of tension in her neck and I wonder if our collars were compounding it. Same with Thyme, he was coughing a lot and I think has a bit of a sensitive neck. 

 

They gave me a lot to think about and even though both my dogs walk rather well on collars I am trying to transition us to harnesses - Thyme is further along than thistle. Honestly the biggest roadblock has been myself - I live in fear it will make them “more difficult to control” but with practice (for me hah!) the dogs are showing me it doesn’t make that much of a difference really. They do need some practice to recognise the new lead pressure angle but they’re not turning into the slippery slope to freight train dominating machines people kept trying to scare me with (roll eyes). I chalk it up to the slow introduction and low distraction places. Barring the adventure dog for thyme but he aced that !

 

I have found us a bit more relaxed? I think because it’s harder for any tension I experience to travel down the neck. I’ve yet to do both dogs in harness at same time just yet but soon. 

 

It has has been quite nice honestly :) I do keep collars on them just in case I do need more head control but martingales are basically built in handles. 

 

I am transitioning with ruffwear webmasters. Like snook I’ve noticed some rubbing on Thistle. Thyme is fine but Thistle has a very thin coat so I’m experimenting with different types of fleece. I’d like to stick with the webmasters if possible but that store that makes escape proof harnesses for greyhounds might be in order :) 

 

ive also started going handsfree set up and that’s really nice too. Have yet to combine handsfree with harnesses! I have what are proving to be irrational fears for it. I keep reminding myself if the trainer with three Rottweilers can walk her three dogs in handsfree a and harnesses on loose leads then one day I can too! 

 

fingers crossed we can achieve that! (Especially that third dog part lol)

 

 (I do prefer martingales personally due thistles fear bolting in the past. They were not measured in either of the studies so I’m not sure if on the “risk” scale they would act more as chain or flat or somewhere in between on a dog. Or how the thickness level would affect? I hope they are included on future studies)

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When Sasha was a lot younger she was a puller so I used a sporn harness , now she is 14 and walks at a much slower pace I use a flat collar.

She still loves her daily walk and will get excited as we leave the house so will pull, but not for long.

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Dogsfevr   

Any tool will have the ability to cause damage when a dog hasn't been trained to walk properly .
Most harnesses used are ill fitted & potential to cause back damage & front harnesses can alter a dogs gait .
I only walk 1 dog on a harness & he's 11 yrs old ,prior to 10 always on his martingale ,slip lead or slip collar .
I see so many dog with harnesses with roached backs & im not surprised with the way owners pull on them & the pressure placed on there spine.then you see those with harness that are pulling the elbows out on walks .
If he walks fine on a flat collar i would stick to ,way more control .
 

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juice   

You could try a martingale ? 

I walk one of mine on a slip lead , the other on a prong . 

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I'm arthritic and pulling hurts my back and hips. I have two older Labs, both fine with flat collar.  One of them quit pulling after a week with a prong collar (12 years ago). One 5 yr old Lab who has been on a prong collar for a couple of years.  She seems to like it - she loves having her neck scratched. My ESS pup pulled like crazy on a flat collar and stopped pulling when I put her on a simple cheap harness.

I don't see how a dog can be harmed by any device if it's not pulling against it.  Possible exception, a halti, which tends to force a distorted neck posture. 

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Slip collar, either chain or rope.preferably chain

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I definitely have a concern for my lot, that even when collars used properly, it's when things go wrong that the negative impacts are made.

 

Definitely agree if going with harness make sure get correctly fitted harness! I have found these very useful when choosing which harnesses to walk/run/jump/explore in:
 

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1048268555369901

(just a neat video on gait with different harnesses)

 

https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/16_7/features/the-no-pull-debate_20782-1.html

(about how some no pulls can damage gait - what to look for)

 

https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/20_4/features/Best-Dog-Harnesses-2017_21622-1.html

(harness pro/con comparisons)

 

https://www.homeskooling4dogs.com/harnesses

(that last one just goes into how to fit them e.g. allow space for leg movement)

 

 

I got started on transitioning Thyme first, as last year we got attacked by two GSDs and cornered. In all the chaos I had accidentally strung Thyme up to stop him adding to the fight while I kicked the dogs away :mad. He had such a sore and sensitive throat after that, was so very twitchy about a tense lead around dogs no matter how light after being perfectly fine his whole life. So I moved to a harness wherever possible to help us move past it. He's all good now, but I don't want a repeat!  Much rather grab his harness handle than his neck handle, but hoping never ever to be cornered by someones two angry offlead dogs ever again. But for Thistle yes, keep a handle on her neck so if I do need it I can grab it compared to harness. But then she's so tall I would hope I don't accidentally string up.

 

Even inadvertent pulling like when we get surprised by something and naturally jump or if we are hiking along a cliffside and someone slips - I don't want to be dragging them back up by their necks!


Still important to teach how to walk on a collar though, for things where it's mandatory like at dog trials and some workshops and when left at the vet. My training classes too, very anti harness for large dogs in the advanced offlead class. I don't understand why they can be trusted off lead but not in a harness but thems the rules.


I use breakaway dog collars at home - these are ID collars that come loose when caught on things much like cat collars but upsized! Cover both my "lost dog" and "avoid strangling" bases with that. They are obviously not for walking though

Edited by Two Best Dogs!
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JacAbik9   

It doesn't matter what you use, as long as your dog is trained to walk on a loose-leash. 

 

I use harnesses for restraint-based games, so my personal dogs and some dogs I've trained will automatically pull in any harness. The front-attach harness aren't ideal as they can impact a dogs' gait and structural development. There are some that are designed to allow for maximum movement, but the more they do that the less aversive it is for the dog, so the more likely they are to pull. 

 

But my dogs will all walk at heel, on a loose leash with any kind of collar. One of my dogs has had a prong used as an 'activator' though, so when it goes on she gets a bit cray cray and thinks she's going to do some high-arousal biting/obedience. Still won't pull though. Someones comment above about chains, prongs, flat collars etc. being 'damaging' is irrelevant if you've trained your dog. 

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One thing I’ve nevet understood is why prong collars are banned here when they are so much more gentle and less damaging than head collars, check chains and quite a few types of harnesses.

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Jumabaar   

. I see leads as safety tools only, rather than a control tool. 

 

If I want to quickly move a young dog without them being distracted  I use a food magnet. In that moment I am not training I am just managing. This would be my option for the 2min walk to the puppy park. 

On the longer walks I assume your out for enrichment purposes so I would be tempted to say let the pup sniff. I did it with my younger dogs and the can now differentiate between a destination walk and an enrichment walk.  On their walks they are in control within reason. On my walks I have food on me to reward leaving smells. To be honest though- I rarely do this form of walking because it’s so much fun watching my guys explore and experience the world.  

 

My my strategies would look a little different if it were an older dog or there was a different reason for the behaviour occurring. No one size fits all. 

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@Jumabaar so, you take your dog out to a coffee morning, or walk to a friend's house, or to an event in a quiet cityscape...which would your pup be wearing ?

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Thanks everyone for your replies, it's good to get different views....much food for thought, and as always, what works best for your dog is what is important.

 

He walks well on the flat collar to the puppy park (short walk) and I take it off when we get there. He knows where he is going, and is quite happy to walk on the path without veering off, so no pulling there.
  He also goes for enrichment/sniffing walks in the park which is just over the road from our place, and I use the flat collar and just allow him to take the lead (mostly) so to speak.  When it's time to go, or a change of direction (away from something disgusting, half dead bird etc)  I'm finding I get his attention away from it with an enthusiastic 'come' and with a treat  and that's about 80% success rate (so far).   
  He doesn't go for long exercise walks as such yet, but when I eventuate to a walking trail or similar, I'll see how he goes with the flat collar and maybe reassess if needed.

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3 hours ago, Rascalmyshadow said:

One thing I’ve nevet understood is why prong collars are banned here when they are so much more gentle and less damaging than head collars, check chains and quite a few types of harnesses.

Probably because they LOOK like a torture device while others look like jewelry or garments.  Appearances deceive 

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m-j   
On 5/10/2019 at 1:04 PM, Rascalmyshadow said:

One thing I’ve nevet understood is why prong collars are banned here when they are so much more gentle and less damaging than head collars, check chains and quite a few types of harnesses.

Yes this is true if used properly but in my limited experience I found them to be very effective which means the sensation they give is quite poignant so in the wrong hands they could cause damage. If they were freely available the likelihood of them getting into the wrong hands and being used as punishment instead of as a training aid is very possible.

I know any collar, harness etc can cause damage but just just the look of these collars I believe could attract the wrong person to them.

I have seen the "wrong person" experience with an e collar which is why I tend to err on the side of caution.

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Most harnesses are ill fitting and just make it uncomfortable to walk let alone pull. Imagine walking in too tight shoes with the laces tied together. 

 

I like to walk my guys in flat collars. But I'll use haltis for walks in urban areas, just gives me some more head control on the event of cats or other scary things haha

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On 5/11/2019 at 6:53 PM, m-j said:

Yes this is true if used properly but in my limited experience I found them to be very effective which means the sensation they give is quite poignant so in the wrong hands they could cause damage. If they were freely available the likelihood of them getting into the wrong hands and being used as punishment instead of as a training aid is very possible.

I know any collar, harness etc can cause damage but just just the look of these collars I believe could attract the wrong person to them.

I have seen the "wrong person" experience with an e collar which is why I tend to err on the side of caution.

Prong collars are widespread in parts of the USA.  The abuse I've seen most is leaving the dog (typically a pittie or a mastiff cross) chained with a prong collar.  IMO that should be illegal.  

The trouble I have with mine is that it sometimes falls apart when walking loose.  My habitual puller doesn't run off, so it's not serious.  A bit of work with the pliers would probably fix it

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