Thursday, December 1, 2011

Body Harnesses for Better Leash Walking

So we've talked about the importance of teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash and why prong/pinch collars are a complete "pain in the neck", so what are other options for dogs that need a little more help on leash? The good news is that there are lots of options that don't put pressure on the dog's neck, so their airway/breathing aren't constricted.

Get a Real Leash-OK, before we get started talking about harnesses, the first thing y'all need is a real leash, not a retractable leash, which is downright dangerous.
These things get tangled, make your dog difficult to control, and dogs and humans can get awful rope burns. If you ever want to teach your dog to walk mannerly on a leash, get rid of the retractable leash a get a simple six foot leather or canvas leash.

Body Harnesses-there are lots of different types of body harnesses, but they are not created equal.

This is an H Harness which has a connection on the dog's back. Dogs have an opposition reflex, so when we feel that tension in the leash, we pull forward against it. So an H Harness is basically a sled dog harness. It actually makes it easier for the dog to pull forward and when they pull it elevates them into really bad posture and horrible body language to other dogs. Not a good choice for most dogs. Let's look at some better options.

Sensation Body Harness
-The Sensation has the connection on the dog's chest, which gives you humans more control and reduces pulling by eliminating opposition reflex. We don't feel the same instinct to pull against the front connection and we do with the leash connected on our backs. The Sensation is easy to fit, easy to put on us, and easy to use. This is one of Jenn's favorites and is available online and in pet stores for about $35.
Walk In Sync Body Harness System-The Walk In Sync is also a front clip body harness, but also uses a special leash with accupoints, that provide a boundary for the dog and handler. This harness is a little more challenging to put on, but the fit is outstanding. It does not cut the dog across the shoulders like the Sensation and provides great control. A very well made harness and effective system that retails online for a about $50 which includes the harness and leash.
Freedom Body Harness-the Freedom harness by Wags, Wiggles and Whiskers (a North Carolina company) is a unique front clip harness that uses a double ended leash and an additional connection on the dog's back. The double ended leash is much like what Jenn uses in TTouch. It's a little more challenging to fit, but does work very well for some dogs, especially large dogs that are ingrained pullers. It retails for about $40 and is available online and at pet stores.
So that's a quick run down of my favorite body harnesses. Remember that there is no substitute for also using consistent, reward based techniques in addition to choosing humane equipment. Need more help? Contact Jenn about enrolling in a training class to get you and your dog on the right track. Check out for details.

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