Let’s Look at Leash Walking Equipment
What We Recommend:
- A well-fitting, non-restrictive harness.
- For larger dogs and those dogs who tend to pull, we recommend a harness that has both front and back rings as, if needed, the leash can be attached at both points. Alternatively, a front-ring only harness is a good choice. Using the front attachment will assist you while you and your dog are working on your leash walking skills as, if your dog pulls towards something, the front leash attachment point will cause them to pivot their chest toward you. *Please note that some harnesses, although they have a front ring, have not been manufactured with the intention of this being the sole ring used.
- For smaller dogs and those dogs who are just getting started with walking nicely on leash, who have no prior history of pulling or being pulled, a back ring harness may be suitable.
- A nylon or leather 2m / 6ft leash.
We love multi-positional leashes – also referred to as training leashes, multi-functional leashes, or police dog leashes. These are leashes that have a trigger hook at each end and O-rings placed at intervals along the leash. The length of the leash can, therefore, be adjusted when needed. They are also a good option for those who wish to walk ‘hands-free.’
- A treat bag full of tasty treats.
Treat bags, with an adjustable waist belt, will mean that your treats are easily accessible and that you do not need to hold the bag.
What We Do NOT Recommend:
- We do NOT recommend attaching the leash to the dog’s collar as this can place pressure on the dog’s neck and could result in injury.
- We do NOT recommend the use of retractable leashes for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- A consistent length of leash is initially key to training a dog to walk nicely on leash. A retractable leash is, therefore, going to hinder the training process.
- The end of a retractable leash is bulky in the hand.
- Retractable leashes are prone to malfunctioning. The thin cord can snap, injuring the dog, the guardian, or even passersby. The reeling in of the cord can result in burns and cuts. The sudden jerk when a dog runs out of leash can cause soft tissue damage.
- Many dogs are frightened of the sound the leash makes when being reeled in or if the leash handle is dropped.
- We do NOT generally recommend head halters as they can negatively impact dogs both emotionally and physically. A head halter places pressure on the dog’s sensitive muzzle. The jerking of the dog’s head can lead to soft tissue damage, and even to damage of the spine. Head halters should only be used if an additional temporary management tool is needed to walk a large dog before skill training has taken place. Trainers should ensure that all pet dog guardians using a head halter are taught the correct way to introduce this tool: The dog should welcome the head halter being put on and not find it aversive! *We advise all pet dog guardians who are considering the use of a head halter to consult their force-free certified dog training professional.
Equipment That Should NEVER Be Used:
Any equipment that causes psychological or physical pain, harm, or damage should never be used.
No shock, no prong, no choke and no pain, no fear, no force should ever be employed in the training, behavior modification, care, or management of any pet. There is simply no substitution for nice skills, both for the pet and the owner. Using tools that work through the threat or onset of pain, force or fear are short-term ‘solutions’ and can actually result in not only physical but emotional fallout. Your dog will begin to associate walking with pain or fear, or the threat of pain or fear. This is counterproductive to the goal of spending time in the outdoors with your dog!
The goal is always to ensure the overall well-being of the animal. Consistent with this it is our position that the use of collars and leads that are intended to apply constriction, pressure, pain, or force around a dog’s neck (such as choke chains and prong collars) should be avoided.
Though data demonstrating the exact damage that can be potentially caused by using choke, prong and shock collars is incomplete, soft tissue injuries are common. There are many cases of dogs suffering soft tissue damage, eye problems, strangulation (leading to death), tracheal and/or esophageal damage, and neurological problems resulting from the use of choke/prong collars.
Evidence indicates that rather than speeding the learning process, harsh training methods slow the training process, add to the animal’s stress, and can result in both short-term and long-term psychological damage to animals. As is the case with any harsh training method, damage to the animal-human relationship also occurs.
About the Author
Louise’s experience, her background as a teacher and her impressive pet industry credentials means she is uniquely qualified to share her skills and knowledge with both the public and pet industry professionals. The creator of the DogNostics’ Dog Trainer Certification Program, Louise has presented at conferences internationally and has gained a reputation for expertly teaching and training humans and canines at her own establishment, The DogSmith of Estepona, in Southern Spain. Louise has published numerous articles on dog training and dog behavior and is also the published co-author of the following titles, A Lexicon of Practical Terms for Pet Trainers and Behavior Consultants and Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People.