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A dog who is constantly pulling on its leash can turn a leisurely stroll into a stressful ordeal quickly. One minute everything’s fine and the next your arm is being pulled off by a dog on a mission. In most cases, some dedicating and training can fix this problem. In the meantime, tools have been created that can help curb the behavior.
No-pull dog harnesses and collars condition dogs not to pull by making it hard, uncomfortable, or awkward to do so. These products are designed to help correct pulling behavior safely and effectively. If you’re thinking of trying a no-pull harness or collar on your dog, it’s important find out a little about what kinds are available and the pros and cons for each type.
Leash Pulling: Why It Occurs?
In ‘My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do?’, author Turid Rugaas points out that when dogs pull on their leash constantly or jump at things like bikes or squirrels passing by, it’s uncomfortable for both the owner and the dog. So why does it happen? The helpful leash pulling guide states that there are many reasons why your dog might be pulling on it’s leash. A few possible explanations could be:
- The dog has learned that when it pulls, you follow
- The dog has a high stress level
- You are always yelling and using negative reinforcement, so the dog wants to get away from you
These are just a few reasons why your dog might be pulling. Figuring out the reason why can help you fix the behavior. Generally, it’s best to encourage and positively reinforce good leash behavior rather than to jerk back the leash or get frustrated with your dog.
THE SOLUTION? No-Pull Dog Harnesses and Collars
No-pull dog harnesses and collars are a gentle and uncomplicated way to stop your dog from pulling. Not only is leash pulling annoying, it can be dangerous and painful for the dog and the owner which is why these harnesses are a great solution. These products help stop the behavior while you train your dog to walk better on a leash, which can prevent things like accidents or injuries from pulling.
Training Your Dog Using A No-Pull Harness
According to professional dog trainer, Jess Rollins, from Pet Expertise training a dog to use a no-pull harness can be done in just a few steps. Here are the basics:
- First, start by making sure that the harness is put on and fitted properly as per the product instructions
- Get ready for your walk and bring along some high value treats (for your first walk try to find a route with few distractions)
- When you start walking, reward your dog for each step that they take next to you without pulling (give them about two feet of slack)
- If your dog starts pulling, calmly say “easy”
- When they get distracted and keep pulling, say “oops”, let go of the slack and turn around
This quick movement along with the special harness will redirect your dog and make them pay attention to you again.
Training is great alongside the harness because it will teach your dog to walk properly if you’re using a no-pull device or a regular collar. It may take patience and a little troubleshooting with some dogs, but most owners will see a difference quickly when training with a no-pull harness.
No-Pull Dog Harnesses & Collar Types
Front Attachment Harnesses
According to ‘Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses’, “Front clip harnesses attach the leash to a clip that is in the middle of the harness across the front of the dog in the thoracic inlet area. They stop pulling by steering the dog to the side and directing the attention back to the owner.” When used correctly, this type of harness like the one made by Ruffwear is great for most dogs.
- Effective for most dogs
- Simple to put on
- Dogs don’t mind them too much
- Can cause discomfort and leave sores if they aren’t fitted properly
- It’s possible for dogs to slip out of the harness if it doesn’t fit
- May not work on overly reactive dogs
Front attachment harnesses can keep your dog focused on you if they have the tendency to pull on their leash. Harnesses with some padding in the front can prevent discomfort and a second leash attachment can stop your dog from being able to break free or slip out of the harness.
The guide, ‘Canine and Feline Behaviour Training’ explains that, “Head halters restrict head movement and exert pressure around the dog’s muzzle when the dog pulls ahead.” This type of training head collar like the one made by Halti is a little more forceful, but it can be helpful for owners and dogs in certain situations.
- Good for dogs who react aggressively to seeing other dogs
- Owner can have more control to redirect dog’s head and attention
- Produces feeling of pressure that negatively reinforces pulling
- Most dogs dislike wearing this type of harness
- Potential for dog to hurt themselves if they pull too hard
People might see this type of head collar and think it’s a little excessive, but some dogs need to have their head redirected for owners to regain their attention. Ideally, this harness can be used as a training tool until the dog is better on a leash, but most dogs do get comfortable using a head harness over time.
Avoiding Choke Collars
- Easy to put on and dogs don’t mind them at first
- Not very effective
- Can be dangerous if a dog pulls too hard or suddenly
In the past, choke collars were a recommended tool for training and pull-prevention, but the truth is that they don’t work to correct the behavior and can seriously injure your dog. There are better alternatives out there that make leash training safer and more effective.
Avoiding Prong Collars
Prong collars can be made of metal or plastic. When the dog pulls on the leash, the prongs join to pinch the skin. This is supposed to be a form of negative reinforcement, so when the dog gets pinched they learn not to pull.
- Dogs don’t mind wearing them too much
- More effective at reducing pulling than a choke collar
- Can cause sores and irritation
- Can be hard to put on and take off
- Tend to break more than other no-pull harnesses and collars
- Can cause negative reactions in some dogs
Prong collars are uncomfortable for dogs to wear and can make some dogs react fearfully and aggressively when used. If possible, it’s better to use a method of training that incorporates more positive reinforcement.
There are many solutions available for owners who are tired of their dogs seeing a squirrel or other distraction and darting towards it.
If your dog is constantly pulling on their leash, it might be time to try a no-pull harness or collar. These tools, along with patience and positive reinforcement, can help dogs learn not to pull and make walks more pleasant. Just be sure that the method you use is safe and comfortable for your dog.
- My Dog Pulls. What Do I Do? by Turid Rugaas, 2005 Dogwise Publishing. ISBN: 1-929242-23-9
- Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses by Julie Shaw, Debbie Martin, 2015 Wiley Blackwell, ISBN:978-0-8138-1318-9
- Canine and Feline Behavior and Training: A Complete Guide to Understanding Our Two Best Friends by Linda Case 2009 Cengage Learning ISBN: 9781111780432.