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Harnesses


Guest kalzanetti
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I think a lot can depend on where and how you are walking. Around town on city streets I just use a collar and short leash combo. Most of our walks are in the country or on trails though, so I have a much longer lead that I use with a harness. I feel much safer having a harness on trails just in case he slipped or fell (he wouldn't damage or jerk/snap his neck).

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I use a harness when I'm anywhere where I think she might lunge (walking in a forest = potential to spot a deer or something) or where she might freak (town fair = kids with scary balloons). Otherwise, I normally use a martingale for outings (around the neighborhood, greyhound events, therapy dog work, visiting people).

ETA: And swimming (see signature), although I ditched this crappy harness and now use only Wiggles Wags and Whiskers harnesses.

Edited by OwnedBySummer

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Lisa B.

My beautiful Summer - to her forever home May 1, 2010 Summer

Certified therapy dog team with St. John Ambulance

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I love harnesses as they don't pull on the dog's neck and Zelda is a spook, while Marble is very timid. I like the option that if need be, I can connect the leash through the harness to the collar if I need the added 'peace of mind' in knowing it'd be that much harder for the girls to slip both the collar and harness. Also, Zelda knows that when I pull out the harness we are either going for a walk or a car ride to somewhere (Marble is still figuring this out). I just feel more comfortable with a harness than a collar :)

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Missing my bridge angels: Pop, Zelda, Mousey & Carmel

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I prefer to use a harness when we are hiking...having something that could pull on their neck for many hours in a row seems uncomfortable. And (as Lolarik1 mentioned) it helps if they decide to chase something!

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I understand the reasoning behind harnesses for some dogs, such as spooky or swimming greys or dachshunds with back issues. But for the most part in other circumstances, using one enables the dog to pull you much easier than with a collar; if your dog is pulling when on a collar, they aren't properly leash trained (there should never be much tension on the leash if they are) and you're sort of skirting the issue by just "making it more comfortable" for them to pull, IMHO.

 

There are "gentle leader" harness that attach in the front that are fine and discourage the dog from pulling and keep them under control, so it's not all harnesses, but the "husky" kind just sort of helps them prolong bad habits *if they're a puller.* Again, I understand there are special circumstances where a harness can be acceptable. But I will be perfectly honest that when I see a dog on a flexi-lead and harness, I instantly assume the dog is going to be poorly behaved (as in, it's going to jump, bark, pull it's owner over to my dogs, and ignore everything they say) due to the owner having no idea what they're doing, and I have yet to be proven wrong.

 

If your dog doesn't pull and you'd rather use a harness for every day use, that's fine I suppose; I'd personally find it more hassle than just using a martingale, but to each their own.

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All depends on your dog's temperment. My 10 yo has not changed much in the 6 years I've had him He was a 3 time bounce due to his quirkiness. I use the WWW harness when off my property. A Harley coming across the parking lot at Petco or a SUV hitting a man-hole cover will send him 6 feet into the air . We have 11 school buses pass my house and you think by now! A 1/12" martingale is the usual attire around the house. Training is not the issue with him. Thankfully his goofiness has never rubbed off on the 2 dozen fosters through here.

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Guest iconsmum

 

I understand the reasoning behind harnesses for some dogs, such as spooky or swimming greys or dachshunds with back issues. But for the most part in other circumstances, using one enables the dog to pull you much easier than with a collar; if your dog is pulling when on a collar, they aren't properly leash trained (there should never be much tension on the leash if they are) and you're sort of skirting the issue by just "making it more comfortable" for them to pull, IMHO.

 

There are "gentle leader" harness that attach in the front that are fine and discourage the dog from pulling and keep them under control, so it's not all harnesses, but the "husky" kind just sort of helps them prolong bad habits *if they're a puller.* Again, I understand there are special circumstances where a harness can be acceptable. But I will be perfectly honest that when I see a dog on a flexi-lead and harness, I instantly assume the dog is going to be poorly behaved (as in, it's going to jump, bark, pull it's owner over to my dogs, and ignore everything they say) due to the owner having no idea what they're doing, and I have yet to be proven wrong.

 

 

 

Yes there are extenuating circumstances but as a trainer I have to say I agree with your observations. There are many dogs wearing harnesses and gentle leader type head

collars whose owners just dont want to leash train the dog. So they think they have a well behaved dog because of the hardware it wears. I too assume that the dog wearing all that stuff will have poor manners. Most

trainers discreetly roll their eyes when head collars go by

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I used a front clip harness in the interim while we worked on leash manners with Truman, my puller. Harnesses are a training tool, just like anything else. They can be beneficial if used in conjunction with training (i.e. not a substitute for training). But to answer OP's question, no, unless the dog has bad leash manners or a medical problem, a properly fitted martingale is just as efficient/comfortable.

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Totally agree on the notion that a harness actually enables pulling!

 

I have one, but I only use it on those rare occasions that I think George might freak out because he did pop out of his collar once even though I was sure it was snug enough!

 

But George has leash aggression, and allowing the biting end the freedom a harness allows is just not a good idea!


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I use harnesses. I jog with my dogs and would never jog with a collar. Plus, I had one who was skittish and a harness is safer on the neck if you have one that will unexpectedly bolt. I also make sure that they are used to and comfortable being walked with a collar or a harness. When in crowds, I use a harness just in case. I also found that when one of mine developed LS, the harness was invaluable. My current senior never accepted one and he is frail and stubborn, making sudden stops to sniff when we are all trucking along. That makes me concerned about any tension on his neck, but we deal.

 

They do allow the dog more head control. I haven't had an issue with that, though. As with anything else, what works best depends on your circumstances and your dog.

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Guest HeatherLee

I use a harness on my dog because he pulls when he's excited. And yep I haven't trained him not to do that yet. Also because it's much easier to grab him at a dog park if something goes wrong.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

I use both in different situations. For regular walks and most events I just use a collar. I did use a head collar for the first couple months, but only as a training aid, it worked beautifully to keep her from pulling while I rewarded good healing. (I know I could have trained without it, but it made ME more comfortable to walk her during our training.)

 

Jayne actually has two harnesses. One is a front clasp (no-pull) type. She really only wears it when we go to meet and greets at Bluffs Run. She gets extremely worked up over the races and will continuously lean into a collar, so badly so that she made herself throw up one night.

 

The other harness is a regular step-in with a back clasp. We use it when we take Jayne out jogging, hiking, or camping. We keep her on a long line tied around one of our waists (20') because it allows her room to roam and is a lot safer in case she were to bolt. I was just using the other harness, but DH wanted the back clasp because it's easier to put on.

 

The safety of the harness over a collar in case of bolting was tested this summer. While camping I got Jayne playing. She got excited and tried to zoom away, despite her usually being very good about remembering where the line ends she went too far too fast. Jayne was no worse off than a rope burn between her back legs, I got pulled completely off my feet (good thing it was around my waist, or it might have dislocated an arm joint) and bruised my knee pretty good.

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I have a couple harnesses, and I use them for specific dogs in specific situations. I DO like to to have dogs be able to walk on a collar.

 

I've used harnesses, in combo with a collar, for super-skittish fosters that I thought might back of of a collar or hang themselves trying - for a little while. A week at the most - then we ditch the harness because they learn.

 

I've used a harness on my first grey, Sobe, when he had a serious neck injury - stitches, staples, etc - so couldn't wear a collar for a while. It took some getting used to, but I talked to him - turn left - turn right - stop. He needed verbal commands without the collar. He really didn't like it very much.

 

I've used a harness on my Diana - when we go to a family picnic - where she's going to be on-leash, socializing for a long time. I use a horse lungeline for a leash - 12 feet long. So she's basically free to wander and visit - but can't run away. With that much leash - I can't have her on a collar - she'd kill herself if she bolted. And - I will tie her to a tree occasionally in that situation. I would never do that if her leash were on a collar. She LOVES putting the harness on - it only happens a few times per year - and it means she's going someplace outside with a LOT of people to pet her!

 

ETA - I've never used a harness for training a difficult walker. To me - a difficult walker needs a collar. Putting a harness on put the dogs body in control.

Edited by sobesmom
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In my mind:

A harness = regular collar = martingale = etc. ... They're all just strips of fabric. They do nothing else except physically tether the dog to you.

 

A dog walking nicely on a loose-leash and/or precise heel is a product of training, NOT of a piece of fabric. Choose whatever tool works best for you in a given situation. But, above all, a well-behaved dog walking nicely is a product of training.

 

I make no judgments about people and their training tools. I only judge the extent and precision of their dog's training, and that is very obvious no matter what tool they choose to use ;)

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Guest HeatherLee

In my mind:

A harness = regular collar = martingale = etc. ... They're all just strips of fabric. They do nothing else except physically tether the dog to you.

 

A dog walking nicely on a loose-leash and/or precise heel is a product of training, NOT of a piece of fabric. Choose whatever tool works best for you in a given situation. But, above all, a well-behaved dog walking nicely is a product of training.

 

I make no judgments about people and their training tools. I only judge the extent and precision of their dog's training, and that is very obvious no matter what tool they choose to use ;)

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I use harnesses about 99% of the time. Both of my dogs walk with a very loose leash, neither pull. I feel like it is safer for their necks.

 

That, and one timewhen an off-leash dog went after my beloved Sheila and turned to go after Kobie, I tossed his leash to a guy trying to help us and he gave Kobie a big yank, he was wearing a harness and he flew through the air. All 4 feet were flying and he saved his life. The dog missed him because he was able to grab him because of the harness.

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I've also used a harness on a dog that had a pinched nerve in his neck that we dealt with for a while. He walked beautifully on a loose leash, but there was no way I was going to touch that neck.

 

I think it's just a choice. Whatever works for you and the dog.

 

One thing I don't think I'd do is put a really big strong dog that was a puller or a bolter in a harness, it gives them a LOT of pull power. Of course, I did loan a harness to and older friend who had a terrible puller of a lab. He was only leashed to go to the vet, and was never trained to walk on-leash. I had a suspicion that a harness would make him feel so awkward that he would walk tentatively. I was right. He creeps like he's on eggshells with it on - it's really funny - but it saved his owner from getting hurt taking him to the vet. LOL!! Of course, after a few times, she gave it back because "he doesn't like it". Yea - that was the POINT! He's spoiled and untrained. Period.

Edited by sobesmom
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We use a harness on Piper because she is a high prey dog. Or at least the rescue said she was. We really haven't seen any signs of her chasing a squirrel or cat or small dog. She is definitely interested though. It just gives us peace of mind and that's what the foster used on her as well. We use the Martha Stewart Harness from Petsmart. Actually fits her great and is very soft.

Edited by tyguy7760

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