Harness Or Dog Collar – My Top Recommendations

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So much to think about when we get a dog, isn’t there? There are so many choices of dog harnesses and leashes out there. But there is hardly anybody that will tell you what is best for you and for your dog. As ever, today I would like to give you my modest opinion, and would like to introduce you to my recommendations for best leash for pulling dogs, best dog leash for running, as well as my favourite small dog harness and no pull dog harness. Have I tickled your curiosity yet? Well, read on!


 

In my last post I have explained how some collars may be particularly suited to pulling dogs. And personally, I came to the conclusion that Border Terriers are not extreme pullers, but can yank their bodies perilously, and as such a harness is best for them.
It is always best to tackle a pulling walking habit in your dog since (s)he is a pup. In fact I am looking into best training methods for both younger and adult dogs, and I shall faithfully report on my finding soonest. But I am digressing here…

So, moving back on to the matter in hand. I do believe that most dogs, including Borders, do not pull, or can be trained away from their ill-placed pulling habit with sound training.

Nevertheless, there are dogs who just keep pulling no matter what. And of course, the bigger the dog, the more dangerous for the owner and the dog him/herself, as the owner risks loosing control of the dog by being literally dragged to the ground.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE STRENGTH OF YOUR PULLING DOG, NO MATTER HOWEVER BIG OR SMALL!!

There are different approaches amongst experts, to control a pulling dog on their walks using different walking devices. Let me unveil them and compare them with my personal favourites.


 

Noose Leashes

Noose leashes are deemed the top-notch when it comes to instill obedience in your dog. For this reason they are also called show leads, as they are used on any and all types of breeds of dogs who take part in shows. You’ve got to watch Crufts to understand what I mean.

Every breed there is shows wearing a noose lead, as they encourage the dog to keep his/her head held high and of course to keep close and walking to heel of their handler.

The noose leash is none other than a proper noose, where the lead passes through a ring to form a loop around the dog’s neck. This way, should the dog pull, (s)he gets choked and learns to stay closer to her/his handler to avoid this.

As well as for shows, noose leads are typically used by groomers, as they need to ensure the dog moves as little as possible whilst going through his/her sprucing up.

My verdict? Not too positive, I am afraid. I know we are talking dogs here, and not humans. But would you adopt choking technique on your child whenever they decided to ignore your requests? Exactly my point.

    • Pro: very cheap.
    • Con: works based on choking sensation for your dog.
    • Ranking: 3 out of 10

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Martingale Collars

You use a martingale collar with any leads, extendable or not, but they work in exactly the same way as a noose leash.

Martingale collars are often used to stop pulling
Martingale collars are often used to stop pulling

The martingale collar is held together by a loop to which you hook the collar. When the dog pulls, the loop pulls too, tightening the collar around your dog’s neck.

The difference is primarily aesthetic. Martingale collars come in a wide range of colours, material and patterns and do not look as basic as a noose leash.

If you and your dog are fashionista and like to sport trendy looks, by all means go for it. But, personally, I’d go for fashion leaving out the choking effect on your dog’s neck.

Reason? Same as before. Don’t do to your dog what you do not condone for humans, that’s my motto.

  • Pro: like with all collars, comes in different colours, material and patterns, and is less basic.
  • Con: do not approve of the choking effect on your dog to correct the pulling.
  • Ranking: 4 out of 10

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Extendable Leash – Best Leashes for Runners

Extending leads give your dog more freedom
Extending leads give your dog more freedom

How can I not talk about running leads, or extendable leads!! I believe this type of leads are as commonly used as the more traditional non-extendable ones. We have always used a runner leash with Indy. But why?

When I first looked into extendable leads for runners, I thought this may not be what we needed – none of us does jogging, hence we would not require our Indy to run after us on foot, or even attached to a push-bike.

But the ‘runner’ word here is applicable to the dog, not to the handler.

The beauty about extendable leads is that you can still control your dog and train him or her to walk to heel. However, should your dog break into a run in more open spaces – just as my Indy used to do when he was younger, and still do at times – you can give way to the extension mechanism on the handle, and allow your dog to run freely.

The perk of this system is that, whilst you can start running along with your dog, it doesn’t matter if you cannot keep up the pace, as the extendable lead will enable the dog to run faster than you, without being choked by the lack of extension, or without having to drag the handler to the ground.

  • Pro: it has dual function, so that it enables you to keep your dog under control or allow him/her to run on the lead, without missing out in freedom.
  • Con: the handle can be a little heavy if you are not used to it – but extendable leads come in different sizes in length as well as in size of the handle itself.
  • Ranking: 8 out of 10

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No-Pull Harnesses & Halter Head Collars

We’ve established that one of many owners or dog handlers’ biggest concerns remains how to stop or how to prevent their dog from pulling during their walk.

I expect this makes the handler’s job more so difficult when the dog is of bigger size, or if you walk more than one dog at a time.

I find using no-pull harnesses a far better choice to train dogs than martingale collars or noose leads.

No pull harnesses are far more effective to control pulling in your dog
No pull harnesses are far more effective to control pulling in your dog

No-pull harnesses work in this way. The metal loop to hook the leash on to is positioned on the dog chest, at the front under the neck, or by the size at the height of the shoulder.

This way, when the dog tries to pull, you can stop the pull as the dog will naturally be turned to a side.

The pulling action of the dog in this case does not result in choking, nor his or her body is twisted snappily, as the twisting movement is more of a gentle turn.

If you dog does not pull in their walks, I do not see the benefit to adopting this type of walking device. But I equally find no-pull harnesses most effective to correct this habit.

  • Pro: very good to train your dog not to pull.
  • Con: not necessary nor useful, if your dog is not a puller.
  • Ranking: 7 out of 10

An alternative to no-pull harnesses are halter head harnesses, which embrace the dog round the muzzle with metal loop by one side of the face, so that again when the dog pulls, (s)he is gently turned by the side. I find this alternative equally very good at stopping your dog from pulling, but it should not be used to stop your dog from barking, biting or eating. If you need to block your dog’s muzzle, you need to look into different equipment.

  • Pro: equally very good to train your dog not to pull as no-pull harnesses.
  • Con: not to be used to prevent your dog from biting, barking or eating.
  • Ranking: 7 out of 10

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Small / Medium Dog Harnesses – My #1 Recommendations – Ideal For Border Terriers

A traditional harness with metal loop on the dog back is ideal for small dogs such as Borders
Here Indy is modelling a traditional harness with metal loop on the dog back – ideal for small dogs such as Borders

If your Border is a puller, by all means go ahead using one of the walking aids I mentioned above. Some I may prefer to others, but ultimately the choice must be yours, and yours only. At the end of the day you are the one that knows your dog best, and you are the one that needs to feel comfortable with whichever solution you decide to adopt.

But, if your Border, or indeed any other dog breed, is not a puller, my #1 recommendation has to go with the good old traditional style harness.

Whether you use a bib one – the ones which embrace your dog’s chest – or whether you use one with straps, a regular harness would have the metal hoop on your dog’s back (on the upper side of your dog’s body), so that you hook the leash to the top of your dog’s body.

You can control your dog’s walk and stop him or her from lunging towards other dogs by pulling your dog upwards instead of backwards. If you pull your dog back, her or his natural reaction is going to be to counteract your direction by pulling forth even harder.

This type of harness allows you exactly to do so.

Admittedly, they may be more suited for smaller size dogs. But they definitely get full markings as far as I am concerned.

  • Pro: best suited for dogs occasionally lunging forward to meet other dogs.
  • Con: not suited for dogs who regularly pull
  • Ranking: 8 out of 10

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My Verdict

You can easily guess, from my ratings, as well as from my stance in my previous post on whether harness or collar is best for Border Terriers, what my #1 Recommendation is.

In my view the most traditional harness is the walking aid I favour for multiple reasons. Yes, admittedly I am lucky that my Indy is not a pulling dog, but there are other equally valid and more objective reasons.

Classic harnesses with the loop on your dog’s back can be found in different colours, patterns and materials. You can find them in very light mesh material, which is easily washable.

Get the right help to walk your pup, older or injured dog

The fact that the material used is lighter does not make the harnesses less sturdy, but the ranges can be found at different prices, from cheap ones to slightly more expensive ones.

Ultimately, the choice would have to be the dog’s owner and handler, as you know your dog and you should go with what you feel comfortable walking your dog with.

There is so much available on the market when it comes to dog walking accessories. I am hoping I will have made your choice a little less confusing 🙂

By all means, do leave your comment below if you have any questions, or if you would like to share your opinion with me and with my readers about your choice of walking accessory for your dog(s).

 

2 Comments


  1. // Reply

    Having owned both small and large dogs, I think the noose or Martindale collars are better suited to larger dogs that need to learn to heel. The harness or halter head collars are better for small dogs. I don’t think any extendable leash is good at controlling a dog. Runners can use longer fixed length leashes for the running canine companions.


    1. // Reply

      I agree, Glen, as I too think that martingale and noose collars are more suited for bigger dogs – they are stronger after all. For smaller dogs I do prefer harnesses, but yes, I can see the point when you say that extendable leads offer no control over your dog. In fairness, I do keep my extendable on a fixed length, and only allow it to extend if I see my Indy wants to have a leg stretching run. I find extendable leads better as they can be used on a fixed length as well as on extendable. And I personally prefer it as holding the handle makes it easier for me. But I guess it’s ultimately down to personal preference… yours and your dog, of course 🙂
      Thank you for your kind contribution, Glen. It’s always nice to hear from experienced dog owners. I hope you will visit again, as I value your contributions.

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