Ask Amy: What type of leash and collar should I use for my dog?

May 9, 2012

The type of equipment you use to walk your dog varies greatly depending on the size, strength, and disposition of your dog. There’s lots of different types of gear out there so let’s weed out the ones that most dog walkers find completely useless.

Retractable leashes- They allow very little control over your dog considering how the length of cord can sometimes exceed lengths of 12-15 feet. With a lead like that your dog can wander into the street, run up to other dogs that may not want to be greeted, and on top of that, the cord often gets jammed, tangled, and breaks rather easily.

Prong collars- They can be helpful for large dogs that pull and have behavioral issues but I have talked to many dogwalkers who refuse to use them for the simple fact that the prongs can become disconnected mid-walk. The prongs are basically metal clasps that fit together and over time they become looser and looser. The last thing you want when trying to control a large problematic dog is having them break free and take off running.

Now that we’ve checked those off the list let’s talk about the ones that work well. For dogs that pull and are difficult to control most dog walkers recommend the following

Easy Walk harness- This is a harness that attaches to the leash at the front of the chest, rather than between the dogs shoulder blades. When they pull, it tightens at their chest and restricts movement.

Head Halti/Gentle Leader- Both are worn on the dog’s head. One loop goes around their snout and the other around the back of the head. They work great but most dogs find them to be a real nuisance and try to rub them off with their paws every chance they get. Still, keep in mind that though they may not enjoy the sensation, both pieces are harmless and I have yet to find a dog that continues to pull while wearing one.

Choke collars- First and foremost, you must know the proper way to put it on your dog. Loop the chain through one of the holes so that it forms a “P” and place it over your dogs head. Attach the leash and walk the dog on your left side. This is very important because the collar will tighten and loosen on it’s own as your dog pulls. If you put the collar on incorrectly or walk your dog on the wrong side, the collar can become stuck in the choke position and strangle your dog. However, when used properly the choke collar is highly effective.

For older, well behaved dogs that are easy to control, an everyday collar is sufficient. For small dogs such as Chihuahuas, Mini Pinschers, and Yorkies, harnesses that attach to the leash at the shoulder blades are best. They have very fragile bones and the tug of a collar around their neck can be a bit harsh.

Regardless of what type of equipment you decide to use for your dog, the most important thing is that is well fitted to your dogs exact frame. If it is too tight it can cause chafing and irritation. If it is too loose, your dog can break free. Make sure you fit the equipment to your dog in your home properly before going out for a walk. If you’re having trouble with any particular piece of equipment, consult your dog walker and I’m sure he/she will be happy to assist you.

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