Tip of the Month

11/25/2010 Head Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes, Oh my!

Boy Leashing a Dog

Dog Collar & Leash Selection Guide

Have you ever felt puzzled about what type of collar and leash is right for your dog? Well, fear not. Whether heís a big and goofy Great Dane, a docile and friendly Labrador Retriever, or a feisty but cuddly Pomeranian, there is a leash out there for him. You donít have to go to a dog training school to know what issues you do, or do not encounter when walking your pooch. So here is a guide to what leash will work the best for your situation.

The Stubborn "Tugger"

For the insistent tugger, your best option would be to purchase a head collar. Most people tend to find a head collar daunting, as the general shape makes it seem like a cruel training tool. Plus, dogs have a tendency to be resistant to anything that you try to put around their face, so a lot of pet owners give up when their dog reacts negatively to the collar. However, for a dog that pulls on the leash, a head collar is extremely important for both their safety, and their health. Your pal can easily injure himself by having the restrictive collar choke him, and no owner appreciates being dragged down the street every time they go for a walk!

Tips For Safe Head Collar Usage

So, in order to desensitize your dog to the head collar, begin by putting a treat in your hand and holding it in front of the collar, so that your pal has to put his head through it in order to get the reward. Once he puts his face into the collar, give him the treat, and reward him with plenty of love and praise. Repeat this until he gets used to the collar. Your next step will be to put the head collar on him, and feed him right afterwards. The collar is not restrictive on his mouth, so he will be capable of eating while wearing it. Your dog will adjust to the head collar very quickly as long as you follow the steps, and exercise plenty of patience with him. By employing these simple dog training techniques, soon enough, the two of you will be able to go on safe and enjoyable walks together.

Smaller Breed Tip - Harnesses

For smaller breeds, harnesses are extremely beneficial for walking. As any dog trainer will tell you, a harness is a great tool to have. A lot of dog owners mistake harnesses as training tools to prevent tugging, however, they were actually created to do the opposite. Harnesses are meant to encourage pulling, as they are typically reserved for service dogs that are trained to haul sleds and other heavy equipment.

Yet, a harness can also be used for a small dog. Many owners of small dogs encounter frustration when shopping for collars, as many of them are too big to fit around his tiny neck! This problem is easily solved with the use of a harness, as they are more secure than collars, and small dogs are less likely to slip out of them while on a walk. Using a harness for a small dog is both safer, and more comfortable for your pooch.

Leash Tips

Last but not least, leashes. Unlike head collars and harnesses, choosing the right leash is far simpler. Leashes are more a matter of personal preference than a breed-specific tool. You'll encounter different lengths, styles, and materials.

Retractable leashes are nice for owners who prefer to choose and control the distance of their dog at will. However, keep it in mind that they are definitely not as safe as standard leashes. Should another dog unexpectedly appear while you have your dog at a long lead, you will not have enough time to retract your leash, and something devastating could occur. If you choose this type of lead, be sure you get a heavy enough grade leash to restrain your dog's strength and weight. For the most part, the retractable leads are really better suited for a leisurely stroll with a dog that does not pull or need any training.

Leash Lengths

Standard leashes are favorable for those who like having their dog relatively close to them at all times, or for dogs learning to heel or not pull on the leash. While standard leashes come in a variety of lengths, you will easily be able to determine the longest length you want for your training and walking. If you aren't working on any distance or recall training, a basic 4'-6' length is plenty. Style wise is completely a personal preference as to where you are most comfortable holding the handle. However, again, check for safety when it comes to this. Some leashes claim to have better handling by providing a rubber handle, but when put to the test; these handles can actually slide up the leash and prove to be counter-productive.

Leash Material

Which material you choose can also involve a cost factor. However, just about any leash materials are safe for your dog. Nylon leashes are typically the least expensive, but some owners do not like the fact that you can get a rug burn if you have a dog that is pulling severely or needs to be restrained. You will not encounter this issue with leather leashes because they are stronger, but often more costly. Chain leashes are strong as well, and are not as commonly used, but again, it's about personal preference. There also now chain and nylon meshed leashes available on the market. Whatever your personal style or preference may be, there are plenty of leashes to choose from.

As long as you choose the right collar to ensure that your pal is comfortable and safe, you will be on your way to having long and enjoyable walks that both of you can enjoy.

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