I was in Dawsonville last Thursday at a new Home Dog Training client and his Cocker Spaniel, Coco.  Coco was just turning one year old and definitely was ready for some training.  It didn’t take long to have my client understand how to let Coco know he was her leader and that she should pay attention to him.  Once we accomplished that, we moved on to correcting Coco’s bad behavior such as jumping, stealing from the table, and being crazy at the front door when people come over.  We started some simple obedience commands such as sit and stay.  By then, Coco was pretty tired and was ready for a nap and a big hug for being such a great student.  I told my client that we would follow up on what we learned from this lesson at the beginning of our next lesson and would then move on to more activities such as proper walking on a leash.  He had never walked Coco on a leash and said he would have to buy all that stuff for next time.  He had neighbors who walked their dogs with different types of collars and harnesses.  He wondered what he should get.All things being even, I always recommend a collar and a regular leash when teaching your dog to walk.  This is because the collar provides a corrective direction from the dog’s neck.  The harness provides a corrective redirection from the dog’s chest.  The chest is a much larger muscle than the neck does not send the dog anywhere near the “pay attention to me” message that a slight tug from the neck will send.

With this said, I am always very aware of the size of the dog and the amount of adrenalized energy that he may display on a walk.  If the dog is small and likes to jump and pull, I often will recommend a harness.  I always have a safety concern for small, active dogs when it comes to the use of a neck collar.  The dog’s trachea is right below their mouth on the upper front part of their neck.  This is exactly where a collar normally rests.  If the trachea is squeezed hard enough, it could collapse and suffocate the dog.

Large dogs with large necks can do a great deal of “pulling on the leash” without any damage to their trachea.  Their necks are big and there is a lot of muscle protecting it.  Small dogs have much smaller necks with far less protection for their trachea when it is squeezed by a pulling or contracting collar.  The energy produced by small dogs jumping and pulling is normally much higher than the equivalent comparison for larger dogs.  This increased energy makes the possibility for damaging a small dog’s trachea when they are “going nuts” on a collar a very real possibility.

Using a harness on an active, small dog to teach them to walk may take a little more time, but it is a far safer solution.

Now, let’s get to what we are trying to accomplish.  The goal of walking with a collar or harness is to have the dog walk by us and to provide us focus as we require it.  This is accomplished by giving a slight tug on the leash whenever he starts to pull on the leash or give too much focus on something else (i.e. a duck, squirrel, child on a bicycle, etc.).  As soon as he looks back at us, we praise him for doing the right thing.  If this is not easily accomplished, we can add an additional tool to keep him safe but still gain his focus.

The goal is to have him look back at us and if the slight tug on the harness or collar isn’t working, we can add a device that places a directed stimulus to his nose and physically directs his attention back to us.  Two such devices are the Easy Walker or Holt.  These devices loosely attach to the dog’s nose and then attach to either the dog’s neck collar or harness.  The leash is attached to the Easy Walker or Holt.  Now, if you give a slight tug on the leash, it will provide a stimulus to the dog’s nose and direct him back to you.

The reason that these devices are still attached to the collar or harness is to provide safety.  By design, these devices are not tight and are not meant to restrict his nose.  This means that there is the possibility for the dog to push them off with his paw or wiggle out of them.  Since the collar or harness is also attached to these devices, they act as a “reserve parachute” if the Holt or Easy Walker becomes loose.

It all gets down to using the right tool to achieve the appropriate outcome.

Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dawsonville Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dawsonville Georgia.