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Harnesses  & Collars


The Premier Gentle Leader head collar is my personal favorite correction collar.  As a trainer, I recommend these often and use them on my own dogs.  Having full control over the position of the dog’s head gives you full control over the dog.  When you put a harness on a horse, the horse pulls a plow or wagon.  When you put a halter or bridal on a horse, it will walk nicely, allowing you to guide the horse using the head.  The same concept applies to the gentle leader.  Pressure points on the back of the head and bridge of the nose signal the brain, “STOP!”  Not only does this make it harder for the dog to pull, but it eases the pressure put on your hands and arms.  This product comes with a DVD to show you how to fit it and use it properly.  Very informative and entertaining.  Unfortunately not all dogs can wear a Leader.  Dogs with short snouts often cannot handle the minor pressure on their fragile nasal passages.  If you want to know if your dog can wear one please feel free to email me.


Another great product by Premier is the Easy Walk Harness.  This is a harness known also as the “No-pull harness.”  It connects to the leash in front of the dog’s front legs.  This causes the front legs to get pulled together slightly when the dog pulls.  Just like the Gentle Leader, this makes it harder for the dog to pull.



The Halti head collar is similar to the Gentle Leader only in the way that it goes over the nose and around the back of the head.  In all other aspects it is different.  It doesn’t tighten when pressure is put on it from the dog pulling and this makes it easier for the dog to get it off.  When considering a head collar, don’t let the cheaper price fool you.  Go for the Gentle Leader.


The martingale collars are great for the graduation from the Gentle Leader or another correction collar that is used to prevent pulling.  It also controls the dog from the top of the neck (position seen in the picture below), but this collar does not go over the nose.  The martingale, when relaxed on the dog’s neck, should be taught (image below #1).  As the corrections are given by pulling on the collar, the collar should tighten (shown in images #2 through #4)  When in position 4 in the image below, the leash is as tight as it will go.  If the collar is too lose when no pressure from the leash is present, the collar will not hold it’s position and will not provide the appropriate correction. 


There are 2 different kinds of martingales.  The nylon no-slip martingale is one (images #1 & #2 below), and the chain martingale (image #3 below) is the other.  Martingale collars are for dogs that need to focus on the forward motion.  They allow for a quick correction when walking.  Positioning of the martingale should be at the top of the neck as seen in the picture below (image #4).


The Standard “H” Harness is just as it sounds.  Two hoops, one going around the neck and one going around the girth, are connected by 2 straps.  One strap goes down the backbone and the other down the chest (see images below).  The second image shows where the leash connects to the harness.  This type of harness encourages pulling and increases pulling power but removes any pressure from the neck and throat.  Usually the only appropriate use is when the dog is on a tie-out lead/leash outside.  It gives full body control.  But be careful where you attach the tie-out so that the increased pulling power doesn’t rip off part of you house.


The comfort wrap harness is another that is similar to the “H” but a different shape (image below).



These collars should be a last resort when choosing a collar.

Choke collars should only be used by trained professionals.  They provide discomfort to the dog when it pulls.  They could be a health hazard and you could do serious damage to your dog’s esophagus.  There is an appropriate way to use a choke collar, but they should not be used in all situations.  Avoid trainers who will throw a choke collar on every dog that walks through the door.  Not all dogs can use a choke collar because some have throats that are too fragile.  There are some non-metal chokes pictured below.


There are two different types of pinch/prong collars.  The regular pinch and the quick release.  The quick release has a trigger that you pinch together to release it quickly from your dog’s neck (see images below).  Pinch/prong collars are metal links that have spikes that pinch your dog’s neck every time you pull on the leash.  Most people do NOT need to discipline their dogs this way.  Only experienced, trained dog professionals should be using prong collars -- and only for special situations.  Some dogs have too much muscle around their neck to even feel the pinch.  The average dog owner should NEVER be advised to use these collars.  As a general rule, I don’t recommend any metal collar for my students.  There is too much possibility for injury and if the dog owner doesn’t know how to use it properly a problem could arise while I am not there.