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Best kind of harness?

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  • Best kind of harness?

    My girl is a 9 1/2 year old, 18" tall, 43 lb. bench-bred English Springer. She is THE Most Wonderful Doggie ever and a complete Momma's girl. She also has always been not the best at walking nicely on-leash. For many years a pinch collar suited us both very well. She behaved and didn't choke herself, I had control. For the record, I didn't want to use one but her breeder gave me her blessing, so... as I say, it worked. Yes, we did training class and I know I should have tried harder to teach her a solid heel.

    Unfortunately, Ms. Pup was diagnosed with neck and back arthritis a year ago. We did drugs from the vet, which made her "feel" better, and then I wised up and took her for chiro. THAT helped a ton! Chiro said no more collars on-leash, at all; only a harness. I put her in the Roman harness I already had and she's done quite well, arthritis-wise.

    But, now I feel like I don't have enough control over her again. So I have set out to find another kind of harness that gives me more control but doesn't hurt her. I tried my Sporn but worry about that affecting her neck (had this for first ESS). I've checked out the Lupine No-Pull (I think it's new on the market), and the Easy-Walk. The Lupine has to be attached to a collar and while she did go nicely in it, I felt like it torqued her neck too much. The Easy-Walk was very good but I'm not 100% sold. Lots of straps that could loosen up.

    I saw a dog wearing one of these, and it looked interesting:
    http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fu...roduct_ID=1771

    Can you suggest anything else I should look at? To summarize, goals are no torquing neck/back, comfort and control. Thanks for any help/advice!
    Last edited by RiderWriter; Nov. 12, 2012, 03:07 PM.
    "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown

  • #2
    The trainer I take dog obedience lessons from, designed a halter that Premiere makes up for her. It is web material like most nylon dog collars. It has a ring that you can use that is behind the shoulder area, but the main ring to hook leash to actually has a choke collar effect, but does not work directly on the neck. The main attachment is on the fron of the chest and then the dogs head is thru the loop, and it goes thru another ring right at the top of the shoulder. It gives decent control without torquing the neck. I used it on my dog rather than a gentle leader as my dog didn't pull too badly starting her training. Have you tried a gentle leader? Maybe that would work for your dog.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RiderWriter View Post
      I saw a dog wearing one of these, and it looked interesting:
      http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fu...roduct_ID=1771
      They can really dig in and pull . The strap sits low enough to not choke but is supposed to be not so low to impede the reach of the forelegs. Cushy fleece lining, wide nylon strap. Marketed to crazy agility dogs (pulling builds drive ). Major pulling! I would avoid any sports harness and research all of the specially designed anti-pulling contraptions.

      I've used a run of the mill V-necked harness with the leash snapped to the 0 ring on the chest. The homemade version of a fancy no-pull. My pup stopped, tilted his head toward me, and asked "WTF lady?! I can't walk in this thing!" Oh yes you can.

      I do not like how the no-pulls impeded forward reach. As a horse person, it really bugs me!

      Comment


      • #4
        I have had a lot of luck with the Freedom No-pull Harness. I have recommended it to others who have also found it quite effective. FWIW, it was also the top pick for no-pull harnesses by The Whole Dog Journal.

        http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-No-Pul...o+pull+harness

        Comment


        • #5
          the one you show from Clean Run, the Comfortflex harness, doesn't give you any control- I use that brand of harness for tracking, where you want the dogs to pull, and I've also used one of those exact harnesses as a temporary "mushing" harness while waiting for the custom x-back mushing harness to come in, and, really, the dogs pull with great enthusiasm into them. Lots of flyball people like that harness as well because the dogs can pull hard into them without having their wind cut off or their movement impeded by the harness in any way. It's a great harness for many uses, but not as a "no pull device".

          here's a review of various no-pull harnesses: http://www.petexpertise.com/dog-trai...expertise.html

          however, bottom line you need to work on training your dog. No way around it.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you for all these tips so far! I forgot to mention that we tried the Gentle Leader way back when, and Sunny abso-freaking-lutely HATED it. I gave it a good try for a couple months, but she got more and more miserable and even grew to loathe the sight of it, literally running in the other direction. In comparison, she'd trot right up with an "Oh, goodie, walkies!" look when she'd hear the pinch collar jingling. I've seen other dogs go fine in GLs and also heard of others that despised them - it definitely wasn't for us.

            I am intrigued by the idea of simply fastening her leash to the front of the Roman harness. Think I'll try that one out tonight. I have a feeling I will get the "Huh? You want me to actually walk/move in this?" face, like I did the first time I put her in a Cone of Shame. (I mean, it was hysterical. She planted her feet and refused to budge, with the most disgusted look I've ever seen. Wish I'd filmed her!) She eventually got used to the latter, so maybe the same might be true for the el-cheapo DIY chest attachment.

            Anyway, I will definitely check out the links for the no-pull harnesses. I didn't realize the Agility one is for training them to pull - yikes, that's the last thing I want!
            "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown

            Comment


            • #7
              I use an EasyWalk front clip harness on my 90 lb GSD. Love that thing. I did have to flip it around to get it to fit correctly, but that was easy enough to do.

              Comment


              • #8
                I know a lot of agility people use the ComfortFlex harness, but it doesn't "teach" them to pull; it just doesn't prevent the behavior (some people might say that is the same thing ). Wendy is right: you aren't controlling anything with this harness. At best you're preventing forward motion/restraining.

                If your dog already knows how to walk politely on a leash, these harnesses can be very useful in certain situations. We have used them successfully with RuffWear bungee leashes for hiking (all the places we hike require dogs to be leashed). The bungee leash gives them extra "room" if we need to negotiate a creek crossing or rocky section, and using the harness instead of a collar means no torque on the neck should the dog run out of leash.

                This probably isn't what you want to hear, but if I were in your shoes, I would strongly consider trying the Gentle Leader again with the help of a trainer. One of my dogs also strongly dislikes the Gentle Leader (he was also the worst of my two about learning leash manners), but he's respectful of it. He still throws the occasional tantrum while wearing it, but he's no longer pulling, lunging at exciting things or dragging me along while he tracks some fantastic smell. Controlling his head gave me full control over the rest of him, and now if he gets a little heavy, all I have to do is a soft tug that turns his head.

                Granted you could still torque the heck out of the neck with the Gentle Leader, if you really wanted to, but sometimes just being able to control the direction of the head, and the dog realizing that you have that ability, can change the dynamic of your walks.

                Using just the Gentle Leader for about six months allowed us to create new behavior patterns, which translated into a better-behaved dog when we went back to our regular martingale collar. A good trainer may have some other options for you in terms of helping your dog get used to the Gentle Leader and/or using another type of harness.

                Good luck.
                Full-time bargain hunter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I thought this also might be helpful: Training Your Dog Not to Pull on the Leash. Another great no-pull harness we use most often is the Freedom Harness from Pet Expertise.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for this most opportune thread. Our little "Frankendog" (beagle/Australian Cattle Dog cross) came home yesterday from the vet - after $850 worth of x-rays & tests - with a diagnosis of some severe disc & calcification problems in her neck & lower back spinal areas. Vet said no more collar walks - harness only. So we're off some time later this afternoon to see what's around. Plan to buy a few & see which one fits/works best.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would strongly consider trying the Gentle Leader again
                      I wouldn't suggest using one of the head-halters things with a dog that has a neck problem- ANY slight pressure on one of those will torque the neck. And no matter how careful you are, you're going to end up in a situation where the dog will hit the leash fairly hard and that can be devastating to a dog with a neck problem.

                      I'm not a fan of the Gentle leader/head halters for any dog- dogs find them incredibly aversive. They aren't "Gentle" in any way, despite the claims of their advocates. They have fewer and fewer fans these days as people slowly begin to realize just how aversive these devices are to dogs. Even if you manage to condition your dog to wear one, most dogs act extremely "depressed" while wearing their head halter, which a lot of their owners mistake for "calmness".
                      The "gentle" head halters are really the only devices in existence that you have to spend time and effort to "condition" the dog to wear- doesn't that tell you something? and even after "conditioning" the dog to wear it, they are still the only device I've seen dogs actively run from and even hide from in order to not have to wear them, even if it means missing out on fun and walks. Dogs will eagerly come running to have their shock collars put on, will come all happy for a walk if you jingle the prong collar, and they'll run in the other direction if you pick up the oh-so-gentle head halter.

                      They also don't seem to work very well for training dogs- take off the head halter, and in most cases the dog immediately reverts to whatever it was doing before.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I should have known I'd get a nasty response from wendy.

                        My rationale was if the dog is less inclined to pull with a Gentle Leader, that would be a preferable situation to her pulling with a regular collar, which is the current situation. If she hits the end of the leash and it's attached to *anything* around her neck or head, she'll torque her neck; anything that decreases her desire to pull should be an improvement in terms of her comfort level. Perhaps a trade-off here could be more time off-leash in a safe enclosure so the dog can get exercise without her owner worrying about her hurting herself.

                        My opinion, based on my personal experience working with several trainers and my own dogs, is that if a good trainer could help her with getting the dog to accept the Gentle Leader, it might be worth re-evaluating. I'm not suggesting the OP slap a Gentle Leader on and see what happens; I am suggesting she consider talking with a trainer about whether a Gentle Leader, combined with leash manners training, is a viable option given her dog's situation and might produce the desired results. (The other person the OP may want to involve here is her vet, if she has not already asked her vet's opinion on this.) If the Gentle Leader doesn't influence the dog's behavior in the desired way, then discard it and try something else.

                        I've worked with two trainers who use Gentle Leaders (and other types of collars/headcollars/harnesses) in certain situations to address certain types of behavior. IME they are a tool in the box; their "abusiveness" is dependent on the hands attached to it, just like any other piece of equipment.
                        Full-time bargain hunter.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wendy View Post
                          I wouldn't suggest using one of the head-halters things with a dog that has a neck problem- ANY slight pressure on one of those will torque the neck. And no matter how careful you are, you're going to end up in a situation where the dog will hit the leash fairly hard and that can be devastating to a dog with a neck problem.

                          I'm not a fan of the Gentle leader/head halters for any dog- dogs find them incredibly aversive. They aren't "Gentle" in any way, despite the claims of their advocates. They have fewer and fewer fans these days as people slowly begin to realize just how aversive these devices are to dogs. Even if you manage to condition your dog to wear one, most dogs act extremely "depressed" while wearing their head halter, which a lot of their owners mistake for "calmness".
                          The "gentle" head halters are really the only devices in existence that you have to spend time and effort to "condition" the dog to wear- doesn't that tell you something? and even after "conditioning" the dog to wear it, they are still the only device I've seen dogs actively run from and even hide from in order to not have to wear them, even if it means missing out on fun and walks. Dogs will eagerly come running to have their shock collars put on, will come all happy for a walk if you jingle the prong collar, and they'll run in the other direction if you pick up the oh-so-gentle head halter.

                          They also don't seem to work very well for training dogs- take off the head halter, and in most cases the dog immediately reverts to whatever it was doing before.
                          I'm not a huge fan of them either. None of my dogs have done well with them (current pup is in a prong). My girl has severe neck issues stemming from use of a gentle leader type halter, and I spent many years working on the neck and shoulders of my old boy. I honestly don't understand why they are pushed so much by trainers.
                          Riding the winds of change

                          Heeling NRG Aussies
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                          • #14
                            prominent trainer on head halters:

                            http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-a...m-head-halters

                            injury reports from head halters:

                            http://www.glocdogs.org/Cervical%20Vertebrae.pdf

                            interesting article from whole dog journal (scan down for head halters):

                            http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/iss...s_16042-1.html


                            If you really feel you need to work on controlling your dog ON A LEASH, what you actually need is to work on controlling the dog OFF A LEASH. Sounds odd, yes, but it's often quite easy to teach a dog to walk nicely at heel without a leash, and then you just put a leash on for safety. Then you can attach the leash to a nice sturdy harness and not worry about wrenching the dog's neck, because you aren't actually using the leash to control the dog- you're using training to control the dog.
                            Best way to rapidly teach a good reliable off leash heel is a technique called "Choose to heel". Look it up- there some videos on youtube and a small book available.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Easy - Walk

                              Easy-walk was magic for my dog. I've been using it for 2 years without trouble. My dog is a major puller but doesn't pull in it. At all. No adjustment period, no drama. Tried the gentle leader-absolute no go and lots of cartwheels in the air. He has a thin neck so regular collars or choke collars were out. He could have pulled a sled with the regular harness.

                              I would say I readjust the straps every 2 weeks. Even when the straps are at their largest, my dog walks calmly in it. I do have to be careful with it when I take him to the kennel. A lot of the staff can't seem to put the harness on correctly even though I've shown them several times. If it's not on right, he can get out of it.

                              ETA-Tags are on a regular collar, contact information is also on harness.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                I wouldn't suggest using one of the head-halters things with a dog that has a neck problem- ANY slight pressure on one of those will torque the neck. And no matter how careful you are, you're going to end up in a situation where the dog will hit the leash fairly hard and that can be devastating to a dog with a neck problem.
                                Exactly what I'm afraid of. Not to mention....

                                Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                They are still the only device I've seen dogs actively run from and even hide from in order to not have to wear them, even if it means missing out on fun and walks. Dogs will eagerly come running to have their shock collars put on, will come all happy for a walk if you jingle the prong collar, and they'll run in the other direction if you pick up the oh-so-gentle head halter.
                                This is EXACTLY what my dog did!!! And get this, she is still leery of her current harness until the second I drop it over her head, and I am CERTAIN this is because it's purple nylon straps, just like the old Gentle Leader! Pinch collar, Sporn, bandannas, vet looper-leash, other harnesses I've tried on her in Petco, literally ANYTHING else, she could care less, but man, I bet if I ever actually got out the GL in front of her again she'd be in the next county. I shudder to think of the look on her face. Talk about depressed!

                                (Same dog who still jerks her RF paw away because I quicked her on one of those toes cutting her nails eight years ago... )

                                So I tried clipping the leash on the front of our current harness. Sunny didn't seem to care, interestingly, and went right along as usual. I didn't really get to test the "stopping power" of this arrangement, as nothing terribly exciting caught her eye on our walk. What I need to do is try it out on a trip to Petco - she goes nuts in there - or maybe have the neighbors let their cat out. THAT would do the trick, for sure, as she thinks kitties MUST be investigated. (Won't hurt them if she actually gets close, though.)

                                I phoned a specialty retailer that's not too far away, and they have the Freedom Harness, so I think we'll check that out this weekend. Looks interesting!
                                "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  UPDATE - I bought an Easy-Walk!

                                  I purchased a Premiere Easy-Walk yesterday at a specialty retailer nearby (very, very nice and knowledgeable people - store is called "Treats Unleashed" and there are several in the St. Louis area). I wound up paying almost twice what it would have cost online, BUT I had the harness correctly fitted directly on my dog (I knew that fit is extremely important with these, because I've seen a dog wiggle out of one) and received instruction in how to best use it by an experienced trainer. Sunny seemed to not mind the harness at all in the store and listened well wearing it.

                                  I returned home to show her dad what I'd bought. He has taken a dim view of every single thing, from traditional training collar to the Roman harness, that I've tried on this dog so I didn't expect he'd be happy with the Easy Walk. However, I don't worry about this much given the fact that he has walked the dog about three times in her whole life (and did so with her wearing her regular collar and a 16' training leash. Whatever...).

                                  Sure enough, his main comment was the harness looked awfully tight behind her front legs. That particular strap IS tight and can't be let out any more, but I certainly would not have wanted to go up to a size L with wider straps. Plus, I keep this dog's coat very long so she has plenty of furry padding. :-) I showed him how you just drop it over her head and fasten one buckle - I've already perfected the "hold the belly feathers out of the way" maneuver to accomplish this.

                                  I raced home from work at lunch today to give the Easy-Walk its first try (it was pouring rain here last night or I would have been out then). What happened???

                                  Score:
                                  Me and the Easy Walk: 3
                                  Two (2) Cats and Another Dog: 0

                                  YEEESSSSSS!!!! Unqualified success. Normally spotting a loose cat is reason for frantic barking, plunging about at the end of the line and desperate straining against the collar/harness. Instead, Sunny listened to me extremely well and after a few moments of rapt attention to the feline came back to me and continued walking. And it was TWO different cats! Confession: I actually pointed the second one out to her because I wanted to see what she would do. She was great.

                                  Same story with a doggie loose in his own yard. I can usually keep her away from them pretty well, but it just went better in the Easy-Walk.

                                  Now, who knows, I might put this contraption on her tomorrow and be dragged all over Kingdom Come, but I don't think so. I think it's going to be an excellent solution for us. Thank you everyone for your input!
                                  Last edited by RiderWriter; Nov. 12, 2012, 04:51 PM.
                                  "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown

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