A walk should be an enjoyable outing for you and your dog. Yet if you own a pup that has never been taught proper leash etiquette, your dog walks are probably more frustrating than fun. Being dragged down the road by an overly exuberant canine is exhausting and can even be dangerous if, say, your dog pulls free and runs into the street.
If you’re having trouble walking your dog, you may need to change the type of collar you’re using or even switch to a harness. The following are seven of the most commonly used dog collars and harnesses.
1. Traditional or Flat Collar
Chances are if you have a dog, you probably already own a flat collar. They’re the most commonly used type of device. Traditional collars come in a variety of materials — such as nylon or leather — and have a buckle fastener or employ a quick-release side closure.
The consensus among dog experts is that a quick-release-style collar should not be used for walks — especially for an energetic dog — as they can sometimes pop open. That said, these collars are ideal and often required at doggy daycares, since they are easy to remove if a pup should get it caught on something.
2. Slip Collar
This “noose”-style collar is often used by extensive facilities such as animal rescues or boarding kennels because it can be easily slipped on and off a dog’s head.
Slip collars are typically made of nylon and have a loop at the end that can be tightened or loosened quickly to accommodate any size head. The problem with slip leads is that they will continue to tighten the more a dog pulls, which could potentially cause damage to a dog’s trachea.
3. Prong Collar
The prong collar has spike-like protrusions that line the inside of the metal collar. When an owner or a dog pulls on the leash, the collar will tighten, and the prongs will dig into the canine’s neck. Not surprisingly, the use of prong collars is controversial.
Some owners of super-strong, large dogs claim that the prong collar is the only device that will work to slow their pups. Others — including some veterinarians and trainers — believe that the use of prong collars is unnecessarily cruel and could even cause injury to a dog’s neck.
A martingale looks a lot like a flat collar. The big difference is that it has a small loop of material — sometimes a chain, sometimes fabric — that holds the two ends of the dog collar together. When pulled, the loop tightens the collar around the dog’s neck. This action prevents the collar from slipping over a canine’s head.
Though unlike slip collars, which will continue to tighten as long as they are being pulled, a martingale will only cinch up to a certain degree. Martingales are an excellent choice for dogs with a tendency to slip out of their collars or canines that have heads narrower than their necks — such as greyhounds.
5. Back-Clip Harnesses
Do you own a dog that pulls so hard that it starts to choke and gasp for breath? If so, your pup may be better off in a harness. The most popular models have a clip on the back for attaching a leash. Back-Clip harnesses work fine for many breeds of dogs.
Unfortunately, back-clip harnesses do not discourage pulling. Some dogs may even pull harder when wearing this type of harness since there is less pressure on their necks to control them.
Another disadvantage of canine harnesses? Some “Hound-inies” are talented at slipping out of them.
6. Front-Clip Harness
This harness features a front attachment point on the chest. Because a front-clip harness will turn your dog toward you when you pull on the leash, it gives you more control and can keep your pup from pulling you.
The main disadvantage is that this type of harness tends to tangle around a dog’s front legs, especially if the dog is on the shorter side. When your dog is all tangled up, it can become pretty aggravating to deal with on long walks. Some canine harnesses can be used as both a front-clip and a back-clip, which will give you options to try when walking your dog.
This type of dog collar is patterned after the halters used on horses. A Halter fits over a dog’s nose and neck. With a halter on our dog, you’ll be controlling your pup’s actions by turning its head, not its neck. Many owners of big, powerful dogs find that it’s much easier to walk their pets with a halter because they can’t lean on it like they can on a flat collar.e
The premise behind a halter is that where the nose goes, so goes the dog. Halters are also an effective way of turning your pup in the direction you want it to go.
Switch It Up (see what works best for you and your dog)
If your dog walks have become an unpleasant power struggle, you owe it to yourself and your canine to at least try another type of collar or harness. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how much better your furry best friend behaves after fitting it with the right device.
For more ideas, please be sure to check our article on the best dog harnesses for small dogs.