How do I walk my dog? Seriously? That’s a question? It can’t be that hard to put a leash on the dog and head out for a walk – right? What am I missing?
“I don’t walk my dog, he walks me”.
“My dog pulls too much so I don’t take him on walks”.
“My arm is sore from my dog pulling so much”
There are ways for both you and your pup to have an enjoyable walk and while proper training is part of the equation, their are other pieces to think about; like the equipment you use in regards to your choice of collar and leash. This article is about your options for collars.
Note: This is not a debate about the different type of collars available. With any collar and leash combination you should never be yanking or constantly pulling. Also take into consideration the size and personality of your dog, where you are walking may make a difference as well, how your dog does with seeing/meeting other dogs on the path….the collar is just one part of the equation.
Questions to ask yourself about your dog’s pulling tendencies before you choose the right equipment:
- Basic – This is the day-to-day collar that your dog wears, probably on a regular basis because his tags are usually attached to it. If you have a mellow dog who doesn’t pull, enjoys staying by your side and does not pull AT ALL – then don’t change a thing. If you have a dog that pulls, look into other options. It is not good to be pulling and/or yanking on your dogs neck. This does not include choke chain collars, I have never seen one stop a dog from pulling, the only thing it does is choke the dog. How fun is that? Not. At. All.
COLLAR OPTIONS FOR PULLERS:
- Gentle Leader – This is similar to a halter you put on a horse. It goes on your dogs nose and clasps behind his ears. When he pulls, the pressure from you holding the leash brings his nose down and essentially takes away any forward momentum that he has and he doesn’t have anything to pull against. Which is one of the keys to a puller – there are 2 sides to every tug-of-war. That’s what gives your dog the leverage to keep pulling – you are pulling back. Take away your end of the pressure, let go of the rope and what happens - they all fall down. The gentle leader is a way to remove the pressure.I used to think that a Gentle Leader was mean, and cruel and my dog couldn’t open his mouth and how inhumane it was. But the above quotes weren’t just familiar, I was the one saying them! We didn’t go for walks, he just pulled too much which made me grumble too much. The first time I tried it on him I noticed a 100% difference. No pulling! When he started to get ahead of me, his own momentum from the pressure on his nose slowed him down. He could pant, open his mouth, bark – all of my concerns were a non issue and we have been enjoying our walks for over 10 years now.
- Prong Collars – Prong or Pinch Collars are actually better and safer (in my opinion) than a choke chain (which I will not use). While they may look scary, because of how the links are made, the diameter of how small the collar can get is controlled. Unlike a choke chain that will keep getting smaller depending on how hard you pull on the leash. If sized appropriately, which all collars should be anyway, a prong collar cannot choke your dog.Also, unlike the basic collar which pulls on the dogs neck at the point where the leash is attached, the prong collar distributes the pressure around the entire neck so the pressure is more evenly distributed. For dogs that find the gentle leader uncomfortable and do not like it, a prong collar is a good option.
- Harness - There are a lot of different harness’s available, some that hook the leash on the front of the chest, on the top of the back, some with bungee-cord like loops that ease the pressure depending on how hard your dog is pulling. The type of harness to use really depends on what kind of puller your dog is. The ones with the hook in the front of the chest will pull the dog off balance, which will stop his momentum and hence, his pulling. If you have a diesel engine of a puller, the harnesses with the hook on the top part of your dogs back almost gives them more leverage to pull against and can exacerbate the pulling issue. They can lean their whole chest into the pull and really pick up some strength – not a good thing. Think of the tug-0f-war example above, in some cases, you just gave them an anchor with the harness.
I have found the Harness Lead to be a great option – and it is a harness and a leash in one!
What to ask yourself when choosing a collar for your dog about your dog’s pulling tendencies:
- Just at the beginning of the walk when he’s excited?
- When he see’s another dog or person?
- When he sees a squirrel
- The entire time
- Not at all, he likes to stop to sniff the flowers and meander on a nice neighborhood stroll
As a dog walker, I’ve seen all kinds of pullers and all kinds of equipment. Some works, some doesn’t. When I walk my own 3 dogs, one is on her regular collar, one uses a gentle leader, and the other one is in a harness. Different methods work better for each dog and I give them the appropriate equipment so we can all enjoy our walk. Hopefully you can enjoy yours!
Oh look – A SQUIRREL!