We provided a detailed leash training primer with some initial information on the proper ‘tools’, a.k.a. leashes and harnesses, to use to optimize your chances of successfully training your canine fur baby to walk on a leash. As stated in the training primer, you must first learn to use a leash and harness correctly and, by doing so, you will teach your canine companion what you want to have happen and how to properly interact with you.
Before we get to leashes and harnesses, a quick note about collars: Your pup’s collar should be used only to attach identification and vaccination tags. The one exception to this rule applies to very well trained dogs who will stay by your side without yanking on the leash. Because a collar goes around your pup’s neck, he can injure himself if he yanks too hard on the leash, causing the collar to asphyxiate him or damage his trachea. He may also yank so hard that the collar comes off, allowing him to run into traffic, get into a fracas with another animal or otherwise get himself into trouble. Remember that once your dog starts running, you will NOT – even if you are Usain Bolt – be able to catch him.
Never use a choke chain, shock collar or pronged collar. These are not only inhumane and designed specifically to cause pain and discomfort to your pup, but using them can actually exacerbate any training issues you may be having and will cause your dog to view training as a very unpleasant experience. You want to provide positive incentives and reinforcement as part of the training process, not pain and discomfort.
Lastly, there are some collars specially designed for dogs with narrow heads which can slip out of a standard collar and for more timid dogs who may pull back on their collars. These collars, commonly called “Martingale” collars are suitable for Collies, Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Salukis and other similar dogs with smaller heads in proportion to their necks.
Leashes come in two basic types: standard and retractable. We recommend that you always use a standard style leash, especially when training your pup or hiking or running with her. While retractable leashes may seem to be more convenient because they allow your pup a wider area to roam while on leash, they are more difficult to control, become easily tangled around your pup and anything between you and your pup, and make it impossible to effectively establish the communication and contact with your pup which is necessary for effective training and critical when engaged in any kind of activity which involves your pup.
Standard (i.e. non-retractable) leashes come in many types of materials and styles and can include different features:
- ½”, ¾” and 1” width to accommodate small to large dogs.
- 2’, 4’ and 6’ lengths: The length you buy will depend on your needs. In other words, if you are using the leash only for training, you may want to buy a 2’ length. Conversely, if you have a large, well-behaved dog, a 6’ length will work well for you.
- A single or double padded handle: Great for comfort, especially if your pup pulls a lot. The leashes with dual handles offer you two different lengths on the same leash. So “handy”!
- Hands-free: Essential if you want to jog with your pup. This design includes a waist belt for you and a least that attaches from the belt to your pup’s harness or collar.
- Fun designs: Indulge in your personal style and add some pizazz to your pup
- Clips to adjust the length of the leash: Handy for training and gives you flexibility to keep your pup close when necessary (e.g. when in an elevator or crowded area) or let him wander when space permits.
- Chain, mesh, nylon, reflective and rope materials: If you walk at night, a reflective leash will be useful and if you go with a mesh, make sure to get a sturdy woven leash
- Leashes which accommodate multiple dogs: Ever so handy for those of us with multiple four-legged babies!
- Made in the good old US or A: Some companies, like LupinePet, Leashboss and Yellow Dog Design make their leashes and harness in the USA, always a good thing!
Some leash companies offer a full replacement guarantee, no matter how or when the leash got damaged – even if your pooch chews it into 1,000 pieces! For example, LupinePet will replace a damaged leash for free within 2 days of receiving the leash itself or a picture of it from you, no questions asked.
Here are some standard leash options for you to choose from:
LupinePet Basics Leash for Medium and Larger Dogs: This leash comes in 7 solid colors as well as numerous fun designs with matching harnesses.
Phydeaux’s Mountain Climbing Rope Dog Leash: This leash is 6’ long, tested to 1,000 pounds, great to large dogs, is available in 9 great colors with matching collars and comes with a 1-year replacement guarantee.
Petz&Petz Hands Free Dog Leash: This multiple use leash includes an adjustable waist belt for you (23” – 55”), an adjustable running leash (4’ – 6’) with a retractable bungee cord that accommodates two small to large dogs and has a reflective handle. Very spiffy!
Dual-Handle, 6′, Nylon Durable Leash: Great for larger dogs, with two padded handles, 100% durable nylon construction and – bonus! – waste bag dispenser.
LeashBoss 6’ Heavy Duty Leash: Another sturdy option made in the USA, with a comfortable padded handle and a 5-year replacement guarantee.
Before you choose a harness, determine what the issue is that you need and want to address and make sure you measure your pup carefully to ensure that you buy the right size. Each harness type is designed to address a different issue. Specifically:
- Front-attaching harness – used to reduce pulling, give you control over the direction your pup is going and allow you to redirect your pup to face you for training purposes.
- Snoot loop – used to control your pup’s head. Although not technically a harness, this is also NOT a muzzle – it just gives you more control over where your pup’s head is. Remember: Where the head goes the body follows.
- Back-clip harness – comfortable for your pooch and easy on the neck, especially if the harness is made from a padded or soft webbed material. Note, however, that this type of harness won’t do anything to control pulling.
In addition to the harness style, you will want to decide if you want a fully, partially or non-padded harness.
Here are some harness options:
Expawlorer Best Front Range No Pull Harness: This harness is available in XS to XL sizes, has leash attachments both on the back and front of the harness along with a handle on the back, is made of nylon webbing with reflective material and has an ergonomic design with padding for comfort.
PetSafe Easy Walk Harness is a front-attaching, non-padded harness designed specifically to facilitate easy, no-pull walking with your pup. As with most harnesses, the chest strap prevents choking and is fully adjustable, comes in a wide variety of colors and in sizes Petite to XL.
LovinPet No Pull Harness for medium to large dogs has a padded handle on the back as well as a leash attachment and is made from light-weight mesh and breathable panels with adjustable straps, safety buckles and reflective material.
PetSafe Gentle Lead Head Collar includes a training video and is a ‘snoot loop’ style of training lead. This allows your pup to fully open his mouth, causes no discomfort and the leash attaches to a ring under your pup’s chin.
Pupia Soft Dog Harness is not a training harness but it will be very comfortable for your pup. It comes in a wide range of colors and sizes XS to XXL.
Let us know which type of leash and/or harness you use and what the pros and cons are to those products. We hope you will find the right tools to train your pup and engage in enjoyable outings together!
©Onpets, LLC 2017. All rights reserved.