I was working with a Home Dog Training client and her German Shorthaired Pointer yesterday in Suwanne. We were outside performing some back leash and distraction training when a neighbor approached us with a question. She was having all sorts of problems in getting her dog to walk properly. Her friends were telling her that she needed to get one type of a collar, then another, then some sort of a special leash, then a correction harness, and on and on. With so many answers, she didn’t know what to do.
I started the conversation by saying that there are many correct methods in getting your dog to properly walk with you. The most important thing that you must understand is that during the walk, you are the one in charge. Your dog must clearly understand this. Your dog must obey you when you tell him to turn, stop, or pay attention to you. The tools that you use during the walk must be able to clearly convey that message to your dog. They must encourage a teaching environment and relationship of respect. They must not convey fear or punishment.
When walking, the tools are the collar/harness around the dog and the leash from the dog to the owner. Let’s first discuss the leash. We require that you use a standard, six foot leash when walking your dog. Over the years, this is one of the few rules that we really attempt to enforce with all our clients. Now, let’s get on to the collars/harnesses.
Collar or Harness?
Whenever possible, we always suggest using a collar to walk your dog. When you give a little tug on the leash to get his attention, you are engaging his neck. When you use the harness, you are engaging his chest or torso. This is a much larger muscle than the neck and will not provide the same level of stimulation that the same tug on the neck will provide.
There are two caveats where we recommend using a harness. If you have a small dog or a dog with a weak trachea, we strongly recommend using a harness. Pulling on the neck of a small dog or a dog with a weak trachea can damage or crush the trachea causing possible suffocation. You do not want to do this. Secondly, if your dog has a tendency to “escape” from collars (turning around from you, backing up, and wiggling their heads until the collar pops off), you definitely want to use a harness.
We suggest finding a harness that is easy to put on and clips to the leash underneath the dog. The easier the harness is to put on, the less you are fumbling with it. This easily causes increased adrenaline in your dog and makes it even harder to get on. Having the leash hook on the bottom of the harness gives you a better tug point when you need to give your dog a correction. When you tug from the bottom, it is turning him towards you and getting him slightly off balanced in your direction.
A regular collar is perfect if your dog does not have a great deal of walking problems. Get one that has a strong buckle and large ring for you to attach his leash. Make sure that is is properly fitted so that he can’t get out of it. When a dog collar is properly fitted, you can only get two fingers between his skin (not fur) and the collar. Check the fit every time you take your dog for a walk. Collars loosen up as they are worn.
Make sure that you have your dog’s tags on the collar. When you give the leash a tug to get his attention, the tags will make a clinking sound that will help redirect your dog back to your command. The tags will also help find your dog in the event he gets away.
If you are having some issues in getting your dog’s attention with the regular collar, the Martingale Collar is the next level up. It looks very similar to a regular collar, but part of the collar is chain. The chain is attached to both ends of the cotton/leather collar and has the large ring where you attach the leash.
When you give a tug on your leash to get your dog’s attention, the chain portion of the collar will create an enhanced sound to redirect your dog’s focus back to you.
A Check Collar is completely made of chain. You feed one end of the chain through the other to create a circle that you place over your dog’s head. If your dog is not giving you focus and overpowering you using the regular collar or Martingale Collar, this could be the best solution for you. This collar works under a similar principle as the Martingale. The difference with this collar is that, if used incorrectly, can choke your dog. Because of this, you need more practice to appropriately check your dog with this tool. The benefit of this collar is that it also provides a more distinct sensation when used than the Martingale.
This collar should be used only in extreme situations where the dog completely overpowers you and only with the training and direction of an experienced dog handler. This collar is very similar to the Check Collar, but it also has prongs that extend towards the dog’s neck. When you give the leash a tug, the prongs will push down on the dog’s neck providing a distinct, physical sensation. Improper use of this can easily cause inflammation to your dog’s neck or even puncture the skin. Proper use of this tool can quickly and painlessly have your dog respectfully obey you.
As you can see, there are multiple methods that you can use to assist in your dog walking training. The Check Collar and Prong Collar should only be used under the supervision of a professional dog trainer.
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 Suwanne Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Suwanne Georgia.