We have all been in front of that intimidating, seemingly endless shelf of leashes, collars and harnesses at the pet store. With not just every color possible but different styles too, how do you decide what’s best for your best friend? My head is already spinning thinking of all the different collars and harnesses I have tried after staring blankly at all the possibilities.
They all claim to be a “good” dog collar; what does that really mean? Well the truth is that a “good” dog collar (or harness) may be different to each person. This concept makes sense to me now; not only do different people have different lifestyles but their pups will have different lifestyles too!
While we take into consideration what we want for our pups and how we anticipate spending time together, we also have to consider all the life stages our pups go through. Just as different lifestyles may require different “gear”, our canines are continuously going through stages in their life, this may require switching up your doggies gear.
As I tried various training tools and the more specific “lifestyle gear” including collars, harnesses and head harnesses I quickly realized that not just one of any could do the jobs of all! While going hiking or even kayaking I have found that a “No-Pull” harness with a handle is the tool of choice but for enjoying a controlled walk in public or an event, a head harness saves me every time.
Another major time when variety will make a difference is in the early puppy stages and throughout adolescent. Training tools are your friend during these stages. Getting your puppy used to wearing a collar or harness early on is the way to go. You will realize how quickly your pup will outgrow their gear and you may need to switch it up from time to time, because of this there is no need for expensive gear until you know their adult shape and size.
Choke Chain: One training tool I have used is the catch-and-release collar (A.K.A. choke chain) there is a right and wrong way to use this tool. The proper way is to give a quick tug when you feel your pup pull, this is then instantly released. The tug is the “correction” and the release is the “reward”.
It is very important for this to be timed correctly for it to be an effective tool. This should only be used as a training tool and not as a main collar. These chains are heavy on your dogs neck and can easily get caught on things creating a dangerous situation for your pup quickly.
Head Harness: My favorite training tool thus far has to be the head harness, I specifically use the Gentle Leader. It works on the same concept of a horse harness, if you are able to control the head, its body will follow.
Getting my pups used to the Gentle Leader was a process seeing as how they have never worn anything on their face, it had to be quite annoying. They eventually got used to it with lots praise and rewards; walks have been much more enjoyable since, for me and my girls.
No-Pull Harness: Incredible tool overall! Great for those strong, stubborn pups who always seem to have a destination they are late to pee on. I specifically use the Brilliant K9 Harness, it straps around the chest and under the belly, just behind the last few ribs.
The entire design of this harness is great for our favorite adventures including hiking and kayaking, where the handle comes in handy a lot with my crazy pups falling and jumping in the lake. You are able to lift your dog safely off the ground if needed only using the handle. This is fantastic for various sports, including water sports.
My girls have not had harnesses before these but getting them use to it was easy, this type of harness has thicker straps for comfort. The points of pressure applied by the placement of the harness truly helps the pulling, giving my back somewhat of a break and not putting too much pressure on my pups trachea or windpipe.
Pinch Collar: This collar has blunt tipped prongs that apply pressure evenly to your dogs neck, it should
be used as a correct and release tool. Using this tool ignorantly can cause damage and trauma to your pup. Ask a trainer if you’re unsure how to use this properly.
This is my last resort tool. For my most stubborn of pups and usually the strongest. This has helped me get the attention of my dogs in very important situations.
Quite often my dog gets locked in on a squirrel, always at the worst times of course, like when crossing the street. This type of collar should only be used as a tool and worn only while training. It should not be left on at all times or used as a “regular” collar.
I believe the BEST dog collar is one that can be utilized safely and efficiently for the reason you bought it. I have these different training tools on hand, along with a variety of leashes.
You should utilize each one appropriately in the various experiences you make with your best friend. This will keep you and your canine safe and provide better control, increasing confidence and lowering yours and your pups stress.
I use the correct and release collars only when training and provide lots of rewards. It is best to train in short bursts rather than drawn out sessions, our attention span can only last so long, imagine our dogs.
I use the Gentle Leader or head harness when I need to have direct control of my girls; usually in public places with unknown situations I would rather avoid if possible.
And the Brilliant K9 Harness is their “regular” gear, this is a sporting harness perfect for our lifestyle. They have a strong ring for my pups tags and safe leashing. You can even get Velcro patches that can be personalized; for instance my rescue pup has a patch that reads, “*NERVOUS*” this is to caution people not to approach, whether in the woods or in a store.
So I say the “Good” Dog Collar is one (or multiple) that fit your lifestyle, whatever the situation may be. Have fun with it! And enjoy your adventure.
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