I’ve Been Using The Wrong Harness

Oops, I’ve been using the wrong harness for years. To keep my dog from pulling I’ve been using a harness that makes dogs pull more (and it’s ugly).

She Pulls A Lot

Laika uses a harness occasionally. I myself don’t like using it but for some reason my boyfriend likes it more than her backpack. When he comes along to the park or for our daily walks he uses the harness, I stick to the backpack. Not that this is going to turn into “I was right, he was wrong” but that’s just the way it is.

I have no problems walking Laika when she’s using the backpack. She’s more attentive to me and stays more focused on the task at hand – walking. While using her harness it’s another story. She pulls, lunges, and loses focus anytime something makes a noise. It’s really not fun. For some reason I’ve been under the assumption that it’s because we’re usually out at the park where there’s just so much more stimulation to begin with.

wrong harness

Laika modeling her back hooking harness. She pulls a lot when using this harness as you can see.

I Read Something Interesting

While reading Jen’s amazing tribute on DOGthusiast to the late Dr. Sophia Yin this week I stumbled upon one of Dr. Yin’s articles about leashes and harnesses:

In general I avoid harnesses that hook on the back unless you want to train your dog to pull a cart or a sled. These harnesses actually help train your dog to ignore you and pull you because when you pull on the leash to try to gain some control, they direct the dog’s attention away from you.

So there you have it. I’ve been using the wrong kind of harness for years. It was an impulse buy from the local pet store. I was browsing and came upon the harness section. I’ve seen many dog trainers use harnesses so I thought I’d pick one up. Surely if it’s a tool the professionals use we could get some benefit from it.

I’ve Learned My Lesson

Not every dog owner needs to be an expert, I’m not even close. What I failed to do was research. I could have read some reviews or watched some videos. I’m pretty sure I could have found out within five minutes that my purchase had been a mistake. Instead I assumed all was well and my dog was just pulling because she was getting too excited.

Why didn’t I read anything about harnesses? I really don’t know. I’ve done a ton of research on dog bowls, frisbees, backpacks, and Kongs. How the harness slipped by I’ll never know.

The Right Kind Of Harness

I’ve retired Laika’s harness, it was ugly anyways. If I ever decide to take up cart pulling I know I’ve got the right harness for the job; for our regular walks it makes it much more difficult.

If I decide to get another harness I’m going to opt for the proper kind; one that hooks in the front. Harnesses that hook in the front get the dogs attention when they pull and they’ll come back to you. Your movement will help guide the dog to go in the same direction as you if they decide to chase a rabbit.

There’s also the no pull harness option. It has a band that goes around the belly and around the chest, with a hook on the front that discourages pulling. It’s designed for untrained dogs that pull.

Back To The Backpack

For now I’m going back to the backpack. I don’t know if my boyfriend thinks it’s dorky or what but I’m also going to have to train him to get used to it. We kicked off #DogWalkingWeek today with the backpack, and it was wonderful.

Laika does so much better on walks when she’s wearing the backpack. Now that I’ve done a bit of research I’m confident the same will be true of our next harness as well. So the moral of the story is; don’t buy a harness with a hook on the back for dogs that pull. Lesson learned.

walkyourdogmonthThe National Walk Your Dog Week Blog Hop is hosted by Cascadian Nomads and My GBGV Life. Dog bloggers are invited to join in on the hop with dog walking related posts throughout the week. They hosts also a great giveaway going on so be sure to check it out. Get out with your dog this week and enjoy #DogWalkingWeek; take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life, like a nice long walk with your favorite canine friend.

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