Walking the Dog - A Guide to Collars and Harnesses
Easy Walk, harness lead, martingale, oh my! Choosing the correct leash or harness for dog walking can be overwhelming. Does your dog pull? Maybe they tend to back out of harnesses. Or maybe you need to walk multiple dogs at once without ended up on your face. With all the options available it's hard to know which equipment to choose. As a professional dog walker I want to share my experiences and save you some pain!
Easy Walk Harness
Dog walkers use the Easy Walk harness for many reasons: it reduces pulling, does not put pressure on your dog's neck and is easy to adjust if your dog gains or loses weight. However, I've seen more than one dog cheerfully step out of a poorly fitted harness and go on their merry way! The harness should fit tighter than you expect while still allowing your dog freedom of movement. While in theory the Easy Walk harness seems perfect, because of the fit issues I really don't like using them.
The Harness Lead
The Harness Lead is a personal favorite of mine. Like the Easy Walk, the Harness Lead does not put pressure on your dog's neck. Unlike the Easy Walk your dog will have a hard time escaping! The first time you fit the harness can be odd but once fitted the harness is a snap to use. I particularly like this harness because as a dog walker I can adjust the harness to each of my daily walks.
While The ThunderLeash will not give you the powers of Thor, it will help you have an enjoyable walk with your dog. Made by the same designers as the ThunderShirt, this leash hooks to your dog's collar and wraps around their chest, making it difficult for them to escape. Because this leash attaches to the collar a strong puller may still experience pressure on their windpipe, so this leash is better for dogs who have an idea of the word "heel."
The Martingale Collar
The martingale collar is perfect for long necked dogs such as greyhounds. Close to a traditional flat-buckle collar, the martingale adds a loop that will apply pressure to the dog's neck when they pull. This makes it difficult for the dog to escape from the collar and provides more control for dog walkers. But, because the collar will put pressure on the dog's windpipe, it should not be used with heavy pullers. A well-trained greyhound, however, is the perfect candidate.
The Flat Harness
I call these "flat harnesses" because they provide little additional control for the dog. They do not tighten much so there is little to no pressure on the dog's windpipe, but dogs can back out of poorly fitted flat harnesses. Still, these harnesses provide owners an alternative to a flat-buckle collar since most of the pressure is put on the dog's chest. Keep in mind that flat harnesses do not provide a lot of control for an untrained dog. Large dogs especially can still pull their owners down the street! I do prefer these types of harnesses for trail work or hiking. Some harnesses come with additional padding so if you slip and jerk on your dog the pressure is alleviated. These also come in a huge variety of collars and patterns, so fashion loving dogs can have a field day!
This list does not cover all the different gear available for dog walking, but I hope you have a better idea of the many different options. Now go out and have some long, happy walks!