If you take a stroll through the pet store, you’ve noticed that there are so many different dog-walking tools available. You name it, we’ve heard it all. Ranging from collars, harnesses, leashes to backpacks for your dog, each one is specially designed for a specific purpose. If you are in a dilemma as to which tool is ideal for your furkid, we’re here to help.
While collars are aplenty, the most common ones you can find at your local pet store are flat collars, martingale collars, and choke collars.
The standard flat collar is fuss-free, simple and comfortable, and hence, most widely used by paw-rents. Not only that, but it also comes in an array of designs (including collars bespeckled in jewels or even glitter) making them more attractive. However, a flat collar is especially useful for easy-going dogs that do not have obedience problems when less to no tugging is required.
Martingale collars are similar to flat collars, but with a chain. The collar is made up of two loops—the larger one is the standard collar that goes around Fido’s neck and the smaller loop, made of metal chain, is attached to the larger loop. When you or your furkid tugs on the leash that is attached to the smaller loop, it will tighten slightly.
This is especially useful for dogs that are undergoing training, as the extra feature allows the collar to tighten when it needs to. Plus, these are recommended for dogs who tend to slip out of their collars, as the martingale collar makes it harder for a pooch to slip free.
Made entirely of metal chain, choke collars are a combination of a standard collar and the feature of a martingale collar where it tightens when tugged. As its name suggests, it says what it does, thus, making it uncomfortable and dangerous. This collar is designed to train Fido with a negative reinforcement approach and could cause pain or discomfort during their walks. However, it is not recommended for inexperienced owners as it could cause neck injuries in the long run if not used properly.
Even though collars are a conventional and convenient choice, it is important to understand your furkid’s walking habits and character before making the decision to use a collar. A pup that walks safely by your side and doesn't dash forward would be most suitable for the collar, as lesser tension will be focused on the neck. However, it is not recommended for breeds prone to respiratory problems such as Pugs, French Bulldogs or Pomeranians with trachea problems, as constant tugging can be detrimental to their health in the long run.
Harnesses are ideal for training purposes and allow paw-rents to have more control over their pooch. These are especially useful for young and untrained puppies. Even though it takes more effort to put on a harness than a collar, it is a safer option for overly active dogs that tend to tug as it reduces the chances of any neck injury.
There are two types of harnesses: Back-clip harnesses and front-clip harnesses.
The leash is attached to the hook of a back-clip harness. It is recommended for calmer and smaller dogs with delicate throats, as a slight tug will not cause Fido to choke. This harness isn’t intended for training purposes, as the design does little to discourage pulling and offers less control than a regular collar. If Fido is large and untrained, this harness can easily allow Fido to drag the owner along.
However, for the front-clip harness, the leash is attached below Fido’s neck and it is especially useful for paw-rents who want better control of their furkid during walks, as they can direct their pooches without potentially injuring them.
Head halters are similar to muzzles and might look frightening at first. However, the difference of that to a muzzle is that it does not deprive them of their daily activities such as eating, drinking, or barking. In fact, it actually gives paw-rents better control of their furkid during walks and it is also a better alternative than choke collars.
The strap of the head halter goes around Fido’s nose and another strap goes around their neck, just behind his ears. The leash should be attached to the ring that is below Fido’s chin. It should be snug and comfortable.
When Fido pulls, the head halter brings his nose back towards you and this makes it difficult for him to continue pulling. It may look rather violent but it is actually not painful for Fido and in fact, it prevents them from any neck injuries caused by collars. The best part: Paw-rents will not be dragged by their furkids ever again.
In all, no matter which type of product you use for your furkid’s walks, it is important to understand their behaviours, the characteristics of their breed and habits before making the decision to the most suitable product. If unsure, check with your trainer or veterinarian to ensure the best outdoor experience for your furkid.
This article first appeared in Pets Magazine 31 July 2017