by Guest Blogger, David Huner
Choosing a dog harness over leash and collar comes with many advantages, both for you and for your dog.
Choosing a dog harness over leash and collar comes with many advantages, both for you and for your dog. The thing is that many dogs like to pull the leash forward, even if it means hurting themselves. By pulling hard, a dog can injure his neck or cause some problems with his throat. Not to mention that he’s gonna get tired from all the pulling and probably finish the walk much sooner than you had planned.
On top of everything, a dog that’s pulling the leash fiercely is also guaranteed to make his owner tired. To prevent all of these things from happening, our advice is to go with a dog harness. By equally distributing the weight across his chest, a harness will not hurt your dog, meaning that you will be able to pull back and stay in control of the walk, rather than leaving it up to him.
But, not only will you be able to control the tempo of the walk, you will also be able to use the harness to train your pup to walk properly, without pulling forward at any cost. With that in mind, here are seven tips to help you harness train your dog.
1. Choose the Right Harness for Him
In order for your pup to feel comfortable during the walk, you need to make sure that the harness is of the right size for him. If it’s too large, your dog will have problems walking properly. If it’s too small, the harness will cut inside his shoulders causing him a lot of pain.
That’s why it’s of utmost importance to find the size that fits him. The good news is that harness manufacturers usually make them be ideal for a certain breed. This way, if your pup is a French bulldog, you need to look for the best Frenchie bulldog harness. If he’s a German shepherd, look for a harness that’s designed for larger dogs.
2. Get Him Used to the Harness
Depending on your dog’s personality, he might or he might not like the harness when he sees it the first time. In most cases, dogs are pretty indifferent to these kinds of things, but one you will see his real opinion when you try to put it on him.
If you think a new harness might scare him, we say start slowly. Let him smell the harness, before trying to put it on him. Dogs rely a lot on their sense of smell, so letting him smell there’s no danger there can really help a lot.
If he has no intention of getting nowhere near the harness, putting his favorite treat next to it could solve the problem. Whichever tactic you decide to use, one thing is certain – you shouldn’t rush anything!
3. Stay Away from the Retractable Leash
The leash is as equally important as the harness when it comes to teaching your dog how to behave while going for a walk with you. You might think that a retractable leash is a good solution for a puppy that’s learning how to walk on a leash, but we say no.
The reason why we are against it is that these types of leashes come with more risks compared to the old-fashioned leashes. Another reason why we believe that you should stay away from retractable leashes is that they’re not too great when it comes to the harness training. If your pup is pulling forward all the time, a retractable leash will only give him a sign that it’s okay to do it. With a traditional type of leash, your pup will have to keep the same distance from you at any given moment.
4. Make Him Stop Pulling
The best way to make him stop pulling is by stopping the walk whenever he tries to pull forward more than you allow it. This way, he will realize that he’s been doing something you don’t like. Another good method of teaching him to stop pulling is by raising your voice at him when he does it.
Apart from negative motivation, that is, yelling at him, you should also give him some positive motivation. And the best motivation for your pup is your praise. So, make sure to amp it up to reward him when he’s walking as he’s supposed to.
5. Teach Him How to Deal with Distractions
The chances are that your pup is a curious little guy who easily gets distracted. Whether it’s some food on the ground or another dog walking by, your pup is likely to lose focus at some point during the walk. It’s your job to teach him how to snap out of it.
The solution is pretty much the same as with teaching him to stop pulling the leash. You can raise your voice at him, stop walking, and/or reward him with a treat when he listens to your command.
6. Buy a Chest-Led Harness
There are some harnesses designed especially for those dogs that pull the leash really hard. The so-called no-pull harness or the chest-led harness is the one that has a clip on the strap that goes over his chest.
How it works is that because the center of gravity of a dog is upfront, if he tries to pull he’ll end up turning around. In order to go straight forward, he will have to do it gently. At first, this might be confusing for him, but you can be sure that after a while, he is gonna get used to it. In the meantime, all that you can do is practice, practice, practice.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
In the end, it’s all about practice when it comes to any form of dog training. In order to teach your four-legged buddy how to walk elegantly, without any pulling or sudden direction change, you just need to persist with harness training. Eventually, your efforts are bound to pay off.