A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article entitled “Collars, Collars, Collars,” which touched on the negative effects that certain types of abrasive collars can have on your dog physically and psychologically. This week I will be talking about a few positive tools that you can use to train your dog.
This is the most common collar worn by dogs. My dog’s always wear collars that hold their rabies tag, city tag, and name tag with our phone numbers on it. This way, if they do get lost they are easily returned back to me. Remember to fit your dog’s collar properly. If it is too tight it will be very uncomfortable, and if it is too loose, it can slip off or get caught on something. When the collar is fitted properly, you should easily be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.
This is another common collar choice which both of my dogs use. When the dog tries to pull their head out of the collar, the tension on the leash pulls the small loop taut, which makes the large loop smaller and tighter on the neck– preventing them from slipping it off. When adjusted properly the dog is never choked, but the collar stays snug around the dog’s neck (just behind the ears) until the pressure is released. For more information on this collar click here.
I always recommend that all of my clients walk their dogs on some kind of harness. As mentioned in my previous article, dogs have sensitive necks and one wrong pull, something very serious can be damaged. Dog’s also have an opposition reflex, this means that if they feel something pulling against their neck, they will automatically want to pull away from it.
If your dog is already trained to walk on a loose leash, I recommend a regular harness. If your dog is a puller, you may want to start with a positive walking tool first, and graduate to one of these in the future.
Easy Walk Harness
The Easy Walk harness is a tool used to discourage your dog from pulling. The leash attaches to the front of the chest, therefore putting the tension on the body steering your dog to the side making it easy to redirect their attention to you. I have had great success with this type of harness and recommend it to all of my clients who have dogs with leash issues. For more information on this type of harness click here.
Other Training Tools
A Halti, similar to the Easy Walk, is a great tool if your dog is a puller on the leash and/or has a hard time focusing on you. When they move forward with tension on the leash, the halti gently turns their head breaking their focus so you can change their attention to be on you. REMEMBER these training tools are just aids. You need to put in the time to work with your dog so you don’t have to use these aids forever.
Many dogs enjoy having a job to do during a walk. If you find that your dog doesn’t easily focus on you and is very excitable while walking, try a backpack. Another plus to this is that they can carry water and snacks, for the both of you!
Remember, when using any kind of new “hardware” on your dog, there will be a transition period. Never force your dog to wear something they don’t want to or they will have a bad association with the tool. Train your dog that wearing these things is fun and good things happen when he does.
- Start small, every time your dog looks at the harness, give him a treat. If he takes a step towards the harness, treat. When he smells the harness, treat.
- Pick up the harness, treat your dog, and put it down. Do this exercise a few times and when he is comfortable move onto the next step.
- Put the harness around his body but don’t do it up. Treat, take it off and do it again.
- Now you are ready to get walking! Put the harness on, give some treats, and off you go!
- REMEMBER, if your dog ever gets uncomfortable during any of these steps, back up to the previous step and go through the motions at a slower page.
When preparing for a walk, get yourself completely ready to go, then get the harness on so you are out the door as soon as it is on. You don’t want to give your dog anytime to dwell or think about the tool making them uncomfortable. In my experience, the dogs will try to get it off for the first few minutes of the walk and then adjust and realize that they are doing something fun whether they are wearing a harness or not.
What do you use when training your dog to walk on a loose leash? Let me know in the comments below!