What to look for when a basic collar isn’t enough.
When most dogs go on walks, they wear a collar around their necks. It might be a leather or nylon buckle collar, a choke chain collar or a martingale. However, some dogs need more than just a restraint around their neck. A harness or head collar can be the best choice for dogs who just don’t do well with traditional collars.
Unlike a collar that goes around a dog’s neck, a harness goes over a dog’s back, under his belly and across his chest. On traditional harnesses, a ring on the back of the harness can be attached to a leash.
Some owners prefer to use harnesses on their dogs rather than collars because they believe the harness is a more comfortable choice. If you have a small dog who doesn’t pull on the leash, a harness can work well. However, if your dog is on the larger size and has a tendency to pull when you walk him, a harness is not the way to go. Harnesses cannot only encourage pulling, they can leave you with little control should the dog become unruly or decide to take off.
In addition to traditional harnesses, some manufacturers offer harnesses that are designed to keep a dog from pulling. One such product is the Thunderleash, which clips onto the dog’s collar and then wraps around the dog’s torso. When the dog pulls, it creates pressure on the dog’s barrel, discouraging him from pulling.
Another anti-pulling restraint is the Freedom No-Pull Harness. This harness has D-rings on the front and the back to which a double-clip leash can be attached. The two leashes work together to put pressure on the dog’s chest whenever he pulls.
Another product designed to reduce pulling and provide dog owners with more control when walking their dogs is the head collar. Similar to a horse halter, a head collar wraps around the dog’s nose and neck. It then attaches to the leash underneath the dog’s jaw.
Head collars provide more control than a traditional collar or even a no-pull leash. The downside of head collars is that most dogs don’t like them, and it can take a while for one to get used to it. It’s not uncommon for a dog to paw at the head collar as he tries to get it off his face.
Three of the most popular head collars on the market are the Halti Opti Fit Head Collar, the Gentle Leader Head Collar and the Walk ‘n Train Head Halter. All are designed to not only prevent dogs from pulling on leash, but to also keep them from lunging and jumping.
Although head collars fit around a dog’s nose, it’s important to know that these devices do not work at muzzles. Although they do give owners more control over an unruly dog, they won’t stop the dog from biting—or barking.
Whether you choose a harness or a head collar, remember that there’s no substitute for training. Teaching your dog to walk quietly on leash, in addition to other basic commands, will go a long way toward making him a well-behaved canine citizen.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/