Walking on the Wild Side, PART II - Harnesses
When it comes to harnesses, there are lots to choose from. You've got your basic harness that looks like a series of interconnected straps, you've got the soft harness which has a little bit of give and wears more like a vest, you've got the "astronaut" which is both padded and durable with places to clip and hook all over the place!
The primary advantage of harnesses is that if you're dog will pull against its collar until it passes out, the harness gives you control without any hint of danger or potential injury to your dog. Since most dogs won't choke themselves unconscious, the harness might be unnecessary. In some instances, a dog that doesn't pull in a leash will transform itself into a champion "sled dog" when in a harness. It's worth mentioning though, that "sled dog syndrome" is somewhat dependent on where you clip your leash.
In general, when it comes to harnesses you typically have two options of where to clip the leash: on your dog's back, or on your dog's chest. If you're dog is in the habit of pulling, you'll want to clip the leash to front of the harness (on the chest) as this pulls them downward instead of backward.
When the leash is attached to the clip on the back of the harness, your dog retains its pulling power without the discomfort of a standard neck collar. BUT, even though the dog retains its pulling power, the harness will help train it to be more manageable. When your dog wears a neck collar and pulls ferociously, it'll usually be able to gain at least a little ground. When you have the leash clipped to the back of the harness, even though you may have to hold on tight -- the most likely outcome is that the dog will "pop" off the ground -- it's almost as if you're scooping the dog up.
Aside from control issues, the harness is great for aging dogs and puppies that may have neck or back issues. The Harmony Animal Hospital Blog talks about the general pros and cons of harnesses; and you might not be the least bit surprised to discover there aren't many cons. The primary downside of a harness being some dogs find them uncomfortable -- but that is more likely due to sizing. If you decide to go with a harness, make sure you fit the dog correctly using your choice-product's instructions -- otherwise your furry pal might be able to slip out, or suffer some discomfort.
For a more detailed review of dog harnesses. Check out this post on "Dog Harness Reviews."
For dogs that are incorrigible, stay tuned for our next two posts: choke collars, and gentle leaders!