Choosing your dog’s walking equipment is like choosing a mattress for humans – you should really give some thought to it, as your dog will be wearing it everyday for a long time. Here we talk about the main types of harnesses and leashes and their pros and cons, so you can make a more informed decision next time.
Safety – as always – comes first. Step no. 1 is to make sure that your dog’s harness and leash come from a reliable brand. Always remember that you dog’s comfort should be priority. The walk is supposed to be a moment of enjoyment and relaxation.
Main types of leashes
Cities with a lot of wide green areas (like Amsterdam) allow us to give more freedom to the dog, even with a leash. That’s why we recommend 2 or 3m long fixed leashes for this kind of environment. This length allows plenty of room for the dog to explore while being short enough to give the handler complete control if necessary.
The length we recommend is based on the dog’s natural exploratory behavior. Dogs are curious animals and have an extremely sharp sense of smell. In nature, dogs would forage for their own food. If you want to understand more about the importance of sniffing, read our blog post about it.
Being curious foragers with an incredible sense of smell, dogs require some freedom when walking outside. For these reasons, a longer leash is the best option to give some freedom (with safety!) in busy urban environments.
Fixed leashes shorter than 2m may make the dog an excellent “puller”. This happens because the dog may not have enough room to explore (as he would in his natural behavior) and always needs to pull to get to what he’s smelling. After all, your dog smelled the pee another dog left on a tree many meters before getting there.
Retractable dog leashes
Very commonly used, you can see them often on the streets. This kind of leash can be inconvenient as it may cause a lot of tangling (specially when your dog is interacting with another dog). If you have a retractable dog leash, pay attention if
- Your dog pulls on the leash a lot, even when it’s at its limit (10m). This may happen because your dog looses his reference and does not understand how far he can go, as the leash length changes all the time.
- Your dog hits the end of the leash abruptly. This could cause serious injuries as the dog’s neck area can be extremely sensitive. Also, retractable leashes can come back way too fast.
If this is the case, you may want to change your dog’s leash to a fixed one (preferably 2 or 3m long).
When choosing a harness for your dog, remember that the dog’s neck is full of innervation, muscles and other important structures that are responsible for holding the head. That’s why chain leads, martingale leash collars, and shock leads are extremely harmful to the physical and mental health of the dog. This has been widely proved by many scientific studies. The Netherlands have forbidden the use of chain leads with spikes. Shock collars will also be forbidden from 2020 onwards.
You don’t have to use force with your dog – you can communicate instead. There are many techniques you can use if your dog has been pulling on the leash that do not require physical force or painful punishments. Always consult with a dog trainer and stay tuned for our next posts!
“H” shape harnesses
As a conclusion, the dog’s neck has to be protected in an equipment that will be worn everyday. “H” shape harnesses may be your best choice. Shoulders are the most important part of the body for dogs when walking. This type of harness allows the shoulders to move with freedom and, at the same time, provide double safety, as they go around the dog’s neck and waist. Another perk of “H” harnesses is that the latch is on the dog’s waist, and therefore the pressure goes to the waist (and not to the neck).
Of course, there are many other harnesses out there in the market that might better fit your dog’s needs. Have a question? Shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help 🙂
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About our dog trainer
Emanuelle is a biologist with a masters degree in animal psychology. She is a positive dog trainer (which means no punishments!) and a beloved member of our team. She (of course) has a dog named Miles. Follow her on Instagram and on Facebook for more!