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Discussion Starter #1
I really dislike using a harness of any kind on a dog for walking. I have said it here and there have been lots of argument about this. I also dislike head harnesses like Halti's etc. NONE of these things are good for the dog and, quite honestly, they correct the dog just like any other "tool" but not as openly or as overtly as other tools such as prong collars. In my opinion a single meaningful correction from a collar that gets results is less damaging than the long term impact of these "no pull" devices used daily.

Here is something that tells the entire story of the No Pull harness and how this no pull device damages your dog. There is, ultimately, NO REPLACEMENT FOR TRAINING.

No harnesses.jpg
 

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I love my harnesses, but my dogs don't really pull, either. I prefer to walk my fearful dog on a harness because I feel like he's more secure - I worry about a broken collar if something were to startle him and he were to try and bolt.

I usually do neighborhood walks with my nonreactive girl on her regular collar, but I love the harness for hiking. It's easy to clip the lead on and off and I feel better during on-leash hikes because there isn't strain on her neck if she gets tangled, if she were to fall she wouldn't be hanging by the neck, etc.
 

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I have a boston terrier.

If you think walking an old, small, deaf, dog with bug eyes and already pre-disposed to breathing problems due to bad breeding, you're just flat out ignorant.

If you think every harness on any dog creates problems - same.

Also I'm grumpy now and while I normally walk my other dogs on slip leashes and flat collars (though mostly I walk them off leash, period) I am now going to put every last one of them in a harness for a while just because I am so freaking irritated by your *CONTINUAL* refusal to learn ANYTHING, EVER, and I'm going to have to find a way to deal with it. Immature passive aggressive on my end isn't ideal - but it's what I've got, so it'll do.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have a boston terrier.

If you think walking an old, small, deaf, dog with bug eyes and already pre-disposed to breathing problems due to bad breeding, you're just flat out ignorant.

If you think every harness on any dog creates problems - same.

Also I'm grumpy now and while I normally walk my other dogs on slip leashes and flat collars (though mostly I walk them off leash, period) I am now going to put every last one of them in a harness for a while just because I am so freaking irritated by your *CONTINUAL* refusal to learn ANYTHING, EVER, and I'm going to have to find a way to deal with it. Immature passive aggressive on my end isn't ideal - but it's what I've got, so it'll do.
Learning goes both ways my friend! Haha! Did you learn anything from the attached image? I did FWIW and not because I have a general dislike of harnesses but because I was truly unaware of the continuous punishment that "no pull" devices inflict on the dog. These things are sold as HUMANE and this points out that they are NOT Humane.

The object of training is to have no NEED for a no pull harness or head collar. Of course.

Yes.. the Boston Terrier is a whole different animal.. I will exempt your Boston Terrier... those and French Bull dogs.. are "very different.."
 

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Yup, I use a front-clip harness - a regular Y-harness with an extra ring in front - for pulling control, NOT a no-pull harness designed to restrict movement at all for precisely this reason. Anything that pinches, pulls, or restricts the legs is no good. I'm even moving away from harnesses with a front strap that crosses the shoulders and chest (think Julius K9) for anything more intense than a short neighborhood walk. Y- or H- harnesses are far less restrictive, assuming you do the work needed to find a brand that fits your dog's body and keeps the shoulder joint clear.

And when I say 'pulling control', I'm not expecting the harness to do any training. All I need it to do is give me a little more leverage if and when we have a reactivity incident, I know I have control and can turn Sam away and get distance. And it works brilliantly for that. I might consider a no-pull design if I had a much larger dog that was untrained and needed to know I had enough control to keep everyone safe and restrained - or a prong collar - but in either case I'd want the dog to have lots of time out of the harness, too, and switch away from the tool as soon as we reached a point in training where I felt we were safe.

Like almost every tool designed to control dogs, no-pull harnesses have risks and potential fallout. They have their uses, but like most aversive tools are definitely not something I'd recommend as a first port of call unless there was immediate risk of bodily harm to the handler or dog (I'm not necessarily talking aggression - a big dog with poor leash manners and icy weather is a scary combination). The only major benefit it has over something like an e-collar is that the timing of the handler is less important, but the handler should still understand how and why it works, especially in dogs who already have anxiety or fear issues... just like every other aversive tool.

For the record, collars can do damage to more than small brachy breeds. I've said repeatedly that MANY small and toy breeds have delicate tracheae and are prone to tracheal collapse - and it can sure as heck happen in medium/large dogs too - and collars really are not appropriate on these little guys unless they genuinely don't pull at all. Collars can also cause pain and damage to the eyes of dogs with glaucoma (or increase the risk if the breed/line is prone), damage the thyroid gland, pinch nerves in the neck, etc. Are these issues common? Aside from tracheal collapse, not particularly. But they're real, and it's a perfectly reasonable choice for people to decide they'd rather use a harness when an appropriately designed and fitted harness is... totally effective and quite safe.
 

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I don't much like no-pull (specifically) harnesses either, but I think if that's what someone has to use WHILE THEY ARE TRAINING loose-leash walking, then they should. A large dog can easily pull someone over and cause injury. If someone feels safer using a device that allows them to control the dog without getting pulled over, then I think they should use it. I would not want to use one long-term, but I feel that if you are risking breaking your face if the dog pulls you down, you should probably do something about that!

I do, however, walk my dog on a regular harness. The harness has a back clip which I use. It is properly adjusted. He cannot slip out of it without dislocating a leg or breaking ribs. He is trained not to pull, but when I walk him on a long line with the harness rabbits occasionally jump up or he decides to zoomie. If he hits the end of that line, I do not want his neck to take the force. I would rather have that distributed evenly across his chest
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I use a harness for one thing and one thing only. Back tying the dog for introduction to work with the Decoy. The harness is designed to not damage the dog who does pull mightily. It is called an agitation harness. Some people use a VERY wide collar (agitation collar). In harness work, the dog still wears a prong collar with a long line attached so it is "dead ringed" (inactive). No pressure is put on the collar other than to set the rhythm in barking. A prong collar is MUCH LESS likely to cause tracheal collapse.

The rest of the time my dog is walked on a fursaver (dead ringed so it is not a choke collar). The object is a loose leash and that is what we train.

A harness, with a dog that pulls, works no differently than a collar. The dog pulls, we hold back and the dog pulls HARDER. It is called oppositional reflex. If we stop pulling, so does the dog. In training I walk with a prong collar and the leash on that with a fursaver. Usually the prong can be abandoned pretty quickly as the dog learns (from correction) that pulling is simply not an option. My biggest "pull" issue? Tracking and going to the track. My last dog hauled me along the track. It worked for us. This dog is bigger and I am done with a tug of war so I have taught him from day one that we track and I keep the line loose. His speed is better and his attitude is one of 100% NO pressure (from tail position and intensity).

Small dogs can also learn to walk with out pulling and without using a harness.. and it would seem to me the head collar or NP harness 180 degree end swap would be just as harmful to these dogs. They are still dogs. Good training is pretty important, but then it always is, right?

If someone feels safer using a device that allows them to control the dog without getting pulled over, then I think they should use it. I would not want to use one long-term, but I feel that if you are risking breaking your face if the dog pulls you down, you should probably do something about that!
A single meaningful prong collar correction followed by a WOWEE reward for refocus on the handler would fix this. If the correction has to be repeated, then the handler is doing it wrong and the correction was not meaningful.
 

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My one dog would choke herself out in a prong collar, no doubt. She does not respond to any correction in the face of squirrels and I've given her some pretty harsh correction despite my positive training nature. I keep her in a Brilliant K9 at all times outdoors to keep her from slipping away from me and also during sports. When there isn't a critter around she walks very nicely without pulling most of the time.

I get her adjusted by an animal veterinary chiropractor at times just to make sure the damage isn't being done. Despite the amount she has dragged me after squirrels and I've pulled her away from them etc.. she weirdly has yet to be lame or have significant subluxations. She also does sports so she can easily get injured from that. Dogs can be injured from inappropriate and even appropriate prong use. Dogs can be injured from flat collars. Dogs can be injured from existing.

If people want to be lazy about training leash pulling, let them. I've never personally seen any injuries from harnesses, even "no pull". Heck, most people barely walk their dogs anyway so it won't be on too long. :p

Note: I'm aware of the possible dangers of no pull type equipment and take them seriously. But sometimes the alternatives aren't great either.. soo. Yeah. Choose your own adventure. Let people do what they want.
 

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I use a harness for one thing and one thing only. Back tying the dog for introduction to work with the Decoy. The harness is designed to not damage the dog who does pull mightily. It is called an agitation harness. Some people use a VERY wide collar (agitation collar). In harness work, the dog still wears a prong collar with a long line attached so it is "dead ringed" (inactive). No pressure is put on the collar other than to set the rhythm in barking. A prong collar is MUCH LESS likely to cause tracheal collapse.

The rest of the time my dog is walked on a fursaver (dead ringed so it is not a choke collar). The object is a loose leash and that is what we train.

A harness, with a dog that pulls, works no differently than a collar. The dog pulls, we hold back and the dog pulls HARDER. It is called oppositional reflex. If we stop pulling, so does the dog. In training I walk with a prong collar and the leash on that with a fursaver. Usually the prong can be abandoned pretty quickly as the dog learns (from correction) that pulling is simply not an option. My biggest "pull" issue? Tracking and going to the track. My last dog hauled me along the track. It worked for us. This dog is bigger and I am done with a tug of war so I have taught him from day one that we track and I keep the line loose. His speed is better and his attitude is one of 100% NO pressure (from tail position and intensity).

Small dogs can also learn to walk with out pulling and without using a harness.. and it would seem to me the head collar or NP harness 180 degree end swap would be just as harmful to these dogs. They are still dogs. Good training is pretty important, but then it always is, right?



A single meaningful prong collar correction followed by a WOWEE reward for refocus on the handler would fix this. If the correction has to be repeated, then the handler is doing it wrong and the correction was not meaningful.
Do what works for you, I guess. I don't judge people for using relatively non-harmful devices to help control their large dogs that can overpower them, especially if there's risk of them injuring themselves. They're trying. I would rather them use a device that helped them control their dog instead of the dog, say, pulling their owner down, getting loose, and charging up to my dog or charging in front of a car or something because they saw a squirrel across the street. In most cases, it's a temporary fix while they train for the proper behavior.
 

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I think the "danger" of harnesses (both no pull and plain old harnesses) is being exaggerated here. I don't use no pull style harnesses, but I do use harnesses on all of my dogs with no intention of ever walking them on a collar. My dogs pull sometimes, and it doesn't bother me. Most of the time when we go for leashed walks, it's for them. I don't like micromanaging my dogs all of the time, and as long as they aren't pulling beyond gentle tugging, I let them do their thing. The walks are for their enjoyment. They all will respond nicely to me asking them to stop pulling, or to sit, to pull off to the side if someone is walking by, etc. The fit of my harnesses has been evaluated by my vet and I to be causing minimal restriction of movement.

The average pet owner has a lot more to think about than what kind of harness they use. In my area, most dog owners don't even walk the dog. The dog leaves the property maybe once a year for a vet exam, if that. And I live in a fairly well-off city, not out in the country where dogs are out on the farms. I see a lot of people letting their poorly trained dogs walk on the sidewalk off leash because they think they have a "bond" with the dog - all of these dogs have darted across the street in front of traffic numerous times. So, yeah, I'd rather see people using a no pull harness than never walking their dog because it pulls, or letting the dog off leash in an area where it isn't safe to do so.

I would NEVER recommend the average dog owner use a prong collar over a no pull harness. Cringe. I can see them yanking and shanking already with horrible timing, and prongs that aren't even properly fitted. Should they have it fitted and be taught how to use one? Yes. Do most average pet owners just go out and buy one and slap it on and go out for a walk? Yes.
 

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The problem is harnesses that have that band on the front, because they do restrict movement (yet for some reason seem vastly popular).

I have a harness that doesn't have that band over the shoulders but has a clip in the front too... mostly so my dog doesn't choke herself when pulling at other dogs (she's leash reactive). The other one walks better overall so I just use a leash (might not last if he keeps going after squirrels though).
 

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I use an H-harness front clipped for general walking, or back clipped when I don't mind pulling on a general walk. I also having an Xback harness that I intended to use for biking and joring, but found my other ones work fine. I have a weight pull harness for heavy weights. And I have a Ruffwear webmaster harness that I like more for biking, and I can attach a weighted backpack to it for conditioning or for function.

I am not a fan of the marketed "no pull" harnesses (any 3-strap harness) because of the band across the shoulders, but I don't think they're horrible. It depends on the dog. Most H harnesses have a front clip option that allows the harness to act as a no-pull. I use it as such, since I have established leisure and training modes for Brae. I think that long term pulling/dragging with any front clipped harness can put strain on a dog. I have not seen any data on if they harm dogs long term. Yes, there are anecdotes of dogs with shoulder problems due to no-pull harnesses. But (and someone show me the data if I'm wrong), so far I don't see it as any more or less dangerous than, say, a dog getting collapsed trachea from pulling on a regular collar.

However, contrary to what 3GSD wrote, a lot of times these tools prevent pulling. Prevention and Correction are two different things. Imagine you are holding a child's hand and as they reach for trash on the ground, they can't. Imagine you are holding a child's hand and when they reach for the trash on the ground you jerk them back. Not here to debate good/bad or better/worse. I'm just saying, prevention and correction are different. I've front clipped hundreds of dogs (including my own) on harnesses. I agree that some dogs should not be in them (ex. dogs who are still dragging the owner and basically walking in a C-shape), but the majority of dogs do great on them. As in, no jerking or pulling, just maintaining a nice walking pace. Like when Brae is front clipped, I'm not 'making the pulling easier for me to manage'. He doesn't pull. I use that as a replacement for training (which for us is a plain collar) because sometimes I don't want to train. I get it - and my clients do too when they see I'm not holding myself on a pedestal above them. Sometimes I just want to walk my dog around the block before work and not need to worry about pulling or treats or any of that. Head halters are the same. When properly fitted on a comfortable dog, the dog is not thrashing or hitting the end repeatedly. I actually had one owner have great success with the head halter when she gave the dog more slack and stopped yanking him on it.

So if the dog is walking comfortably on a harness or a halter, there is no strain on the body. If any tool is putting strain on a dog, obviously it's time to explore different options.

Short of it is, it's not black and white. As usual. But generally speaking, I see harnesses and halters doing a lot of good for dogs. We use H-harnesses and head halters and the occasional no-pull harness for client dogs and shelter dogs. Hundreds of dogs, every year. Not every single dog, and anomalies are worked with accordingly. But... the statement "NONE of these things are good for the dog" is untrue.
 

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Here's what I'm interested in...

How often do you see a dog that is literally dragging the owner down the street for the entire walk? Like, more than just the first few minutes. Not counting the few seconds when they might pull towards a dog or a squirrel.

It DOES happen. But really, even most of the 'untrained' dogs I see in the world are just... walking with their people. Maybe not at a perfect heel and usually out in front. Maybe the leash is a little tight. But far from any meaningful pulling. Person and dog both look pretty casual and comfortable to be out. Point is, I think the dog that is chronically torquing his body while dragging his owner down the street is less common than people think. And when we see a dog pulling, usually it's because WE are out with our dogs and that other dog is distracted by our dog. We see maybe a minute of a 30 minute walk. Yet even then, I doubt those few seconds of pulling as we pass by are hurting the dog, no matter what tool the dog is on. Certainly, it's not enough time for me to pass judgment on a person who's just outside with their dog.
 

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I've never used anything other than collars, but a few weeks ago I saw a lady strolling around downtown in the town near us. The dog she had with her drew my attention ( nice looking gsd ). Dog obviously trained loose leash. The harness then drew my attention. It was a super nice leather deal, havent seen another like it. Leash clipped to back. Couldn't see any reason for it other than it looked very very sharp on that dog. This thread made me wonder about it.
 

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I think 'it looks good' is a good enough reason too :D

But I think it's also good to remember that when we see dogs on walks we only see a snapshot of their lives. Like maybe the harness gives the owner a little more traction in the once-in-a-bluemoon times when the dog does lunge at a squirrel. Or something. Or maybe she just knows how sharp her dogs looks in the harness :rockon:
 

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@Dexter The pulling issues were what caused me to switch to harnesses, but Sam's staying in them regardless of how much we get his reactivity to improve. He wears them for activities where his reactivity is a non-issue, too, such as off-leash forest hikes. And I absolutely plan on keeping to a harness for my next dog, even though I'm now much more experienced in training leash manners and effectively managing/preventing reactive behavior. I actually found loose leash training to be vastly easier in a harness, and love that there's so much less risk of pressure on their throat, even in freak scenarios that have nothing to do with training (I slip and jerk the leash, the gear gets snagged on a twig, etc).

Plus, yes, many are very handsome, imo. They cause some annoying matting in curly dogs (maybe others, too, but my experience is just the poodle), but for me that slight extra bit of maintenance is worth it.

Everyone has their own preferences, though. I don't care what tools people walk their dogs on, so long as it's being applied humanely (which includes proper fit and - hopefully - training for those corrective tools that require skill and timing). I do think everyone should make an effort to be fully aware of the pros and cons of any tools they use, but only an individual can make a value judgement about whether those pros and cons make something appropriate for their dog and handling style.

I almost wish a single harsh correct + jackpot reward worked for every dog in every situation with zero chance of physical, emotional, or mental fallout. Because then we'd all be doing it and poor leash manners and reactivity would be virtually unheard of. Must be a nice world to live in.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The other day I saw a small dog.. toy poodle I think.. on a standard harness. It was fine. Why? The dog was not at the end of the leash trying to get to my dog and everything else. This is the exception and not the rule from what I have seen. IOW's the dog was trained.

Training partner went to Cabela's not too long ago. She is dog interested (ha! isn't everyone??) and she said she counted 8 dogs in the store. EVERY LAST ONE on a harness and leash attached to the typical clueless owner. She just stopped and listened. All around the store she heard dog encounters that were clearly not pleasant. Contrary to this she saw another person go into Tractor supply with a Sheltie. NO LEASH and the dog stayed with the guy, showed no interest in the other dogs or people. They bought their stuff and exited (I had a dog like this).

Both these are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Of course, if you have TRAINED your dog you can walk it on anything (like the Poodle). Or on nothing at all (like the Sheltie).

BUT that is not the norm. The NORM is the harnessed dog is at the end of it's leash pulling the owner over to interfere with me and my dog. UNACCEPTABLE. I don't care WHO you are, if that is going on you don't need a no pull harness or a Head Collar. You need to train your dog. If you have to use a No Pull device or a Harness on a dog for more than a couple of weeks, you are dependent and not training and you are doing harm to your dog. If your dog would "choke itself out" on a pong collar, you don't know how to effectively USE a prong collar (the leash should NEVER EVER be tight when a dog is on a prong collar as its effectiveness is based in a loose leash and a quick, sharp, EFFECTIVE correction followed by a loose leash).

Yes.. Canyx.. I agree that the no pull stuff out there is "prevention" but the "prevention" is uncomfortable or damaging to the dog and, from what I have read, just as damaging or more so than correction which is based in timing and response.

I will say this. If you have to resort to a no pull device of any sort for more than a week.. maybe two.. you are not interested in training your dog. In fact, considering the long term damage to the dog, you are interested in convenience. Period.
 

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The other day I saw a small dog.. toy poodle I think.. on a standard harness. It was fine. Why? The dog was not at the end of the leash trying to get to my dog and everything else. This is the exception and not the rule from what I have seen. IOW's the dog was trained.

Training partner went to Cabela's not too long ago. She is dog interested (ha! isn't everyone??) and she said she counted 8 dogs in the store. EVERY LAST ONE on a harness and leash attached to the typical clueless owner. She just stopped and listened. All around the store she heard dog encounters that were clearly not pleasant. Contrary to this she saw another person go into Tractor supply with a Sheltie. NO LEASH and the dog stayed with the guy, showed no interest in the other dogs or people. They bought their stuff and exited (I had a dog like this).

Both these are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Of course, if you have TRAINED your dog you can walk it on anything (like the Poodle). Or on nothing at all (like the Sheltie).

BUT that is not the norm. The NORM is the harnessed dog is at the end of it's leash pulling the owner over to interfere with me and my dog. UNACCEPTABLE. I don't care WHO you are, if that is going on you don't need a no pull harness or a Head Collar. You need to train your dog. If you have to use a No Pull device or a Harness on a dog for more than a couple of weeks, you are dependent and not training and you are doing harm to your dog. If your dog would "choke itself out" on a pong collar, you don't know how to effectively USE a prong collar (the leash should NEVER EVER be tight when a dog is on a prong collar as its effectiveness is based in a loose leash and a quick, sharp, EFFECTIVE correction followed by a loose leash).

Yes.. Canyx.. I agree that the no pull stuff out there is "prevention" but the "prevention" is uncomfortable or damaging to the dog and, from what I have read, just as damaging or more so than correction which is based in timing and response.

I will say this. If you have to resort to a no pull device of any sort for more than a week.. maybe two.. you are not interested in training your dog. In fact, considering the long term damage to the dog, you are interested in convenience. Period.
I would like to know who has completely trained any dog to walk on a loose leash in any and all circumstances, including seeing wildlife, other dogs, and people in two weeks....I would also like to know how you have decided that two weeks is the maximum amount of time anyone should take to train a dog to walk on a loose leash.
 

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I would like to know who has completely trained any dog to walk on a loose leash in any and all circumstances, including seeing wildlife, other dogs, and people in two weeks....
People using incredibly harsh corrections and making pulling absolutely horrifying to the dog.

And who is lucky enough to own a breed that can take that shit, and little to no experience with anything else.
 
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