Ella, my chihuahua, had been pulling on her leash for some time now. She was getting a little big for the small one in any case, and I knew that it was only going to get worse before anything else.
I tried everything – holding onto the leash tighter, giving her treats at the end of our walks, letting her sniff around more before we got out of the door… Nothing helped.
I wasn’t sure what could be done so I decided to try one last thing: no-pull harnesses! It seemed like they were all over social media lately anyway and my friends swore by them so I gave them a try and was super glad I did.
Does your dog take you for a walk when you should be taking him or her for a walk? Even the smallest of dogs can develop a nasty tendency to pull their owners around.
If you haven’t been able to train your dog to walk properly any other way, then a no-pull harness might be for you.
It can teach your dog to walk the right even if he or she has some pretty nasty ingrained tendencies!
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How Do No Pull Harnesses Work?
A no-pull harness places the leash clip near the front of your dog on the chest, which creates an uncomfortable sensation anytime he or she starts pulling. The sensation causes the dog to feel like they are losing their balance which in turn gets them to stop pulling. Even with little training, it begins to work. With more advanced training you can get your dog to stop pulling altogether.
An overwhelming majority of dogs won’t like the feeling, though, so they’ll quickly learn to walk with a loose leash. In fact, some owners have started to use no-pull harnesses each time they walk their dogs.
Unlike other training tools, they’re gentle enough for you to actually do this. Keep in mind, though, that they’re still more than capable of teaching even the biggest dogs not to pull on the leash when you’re taking them for a walk.
Benefits of No Pull Harnesses
- Teaches dogs to heel even if they refuse to listen
- Keeps your dog from choking on a collar
- Creates just enough discomfort to teach a lesson, but doesn’t actually cause long-term injuries
- Can be used as a training tool or on every walk
- Easily sized to fit different dogs
- Doesn’t have the rough look of a prong collar
- Usually features extra padding
Downsides of No Pull Harnesses
- Doesn’t offer as much control as some other restraints
- It May, not work will all dogs who weigh more than 100 lbs.
- Users must have good dog-handling skills to use
- Needs to be regularly readjusted to maintain a good fit
Do Harnesses Keep Dogs from Pulling?
It depends on the type of harness and just how resilient your dog’s bad habits are. Traditional harnesses give your dog at least some freedom to pull, though they do have less than if you had a collar on them.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of traditional harnesses is the fact that even if your dog does tend to pull, he or she won’t start choking.
Certified no-pull harnesses exert some degree of pressure on the dog’s midsection if they continue to pull. In most cases, this will correct the behavior over time. If you need suddenly correct a bad before, then you can tug firmly to keep your dog from doing anything bad.
In fact, representatives from the US Humane Society recommend using a harness in this way when going through stressful traveling-related situations to ensure safety.
What to Look for in a No Pull Harness
You’re going to want to first make sure you’re looking at the right-sized harness. Assuming you have a smaller dog, you’ll want something that’s sized so that the harness will fit comfortably under their chest but not give them too much space to swim around in it.
A good rule of thumb is to get a harness that snaps back into place after you pull it away from your dog’s chest. Tight harnesses will cause a rash while ones that are too loose won’t do you much good.
Dogs that are over 100 lbs. may need special harnesses designed to fit those dogs. Other dogs of nearly any size under this usually fit well into padded no-pull harnesses.
While they’re designed to provide some corrective pressure, a well-made harness shouldn’t give your dog sores.
Make sure that the one you pick has a place to securely fasten a leash from the back or side. This is perfect if your dog wants to go pulling you back and forth every time there’s another dog or an interesting scent out there!
There’s still some debate over what place is better when it comes time to put a leash on. You’ll want to weigh both sides before you take the plunge and invest in one.
Front Clip vs. Side Clip Harnesses
Overall, a front clip harness is going to provide you with more control. You’ll be able to train your dog a little better with one of these because they flat-out stop dogs from pulling on the leash.
That’s why you’ll often see front clips on dogs at obedience training schools.
Back clips are a little more comfortable for dogs, so they might be a better choice if you plan on using the harness often for walking around.
According to Dr. Susan C. Nelson of the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University, back clips are usually better for short-nosed dogs. Front clips might put too much pressure on their throats.
Don’t let yourself be swayed by silly things! You’ll often see cutesy back clip harnesses with lots of decorations.
Ignore this kind of marketing gimmick and focus on the facts. If your dog has a short nose, then this might be the best choice.
Otherwise, you’ll want to consider a front clip one for training.
When studying harnesses for car safety, board-certified surgeon Phil Zeltzman found that few provided adequate protection. The same is likely true of those designed for walking around.
However, a good thing to keep in mind is the fact that most stories you’ve heard about failures have more to do with owner mistakes!
Always use your harness the way the people that made it wanted you to.
How to Train Your Dog to Stop Pulling
You’ll first want to get your dog used to their new harness. Try out the tips shared by an expert from What a Great Dog in this video:
Once you get that down, you’ll need to teach your dog to walk again on a traditional leash without pulling as Zak George shows us in this video: