Apparatus

We’ve tried what seems like every collar/leash/harness out there, even though I know we haven’t. Silas does not take treats outside, so I’ve had to rely on good equipment and consistent use of the stop-walking-until-he-checks-in routine. It’s still very much a work in progress.

Tiny puppy Silas would panic, hit the end of his leash, and pull until he would gag. Very early on I switched to the standard back-clip harness.

In his first obedience class, the instructor looked at him, frantically jumping and pulling, and put him in a SENSE-ation Harness, which is a front-clip.

Harness

SENSE-ation Harness

The front clip harness works on the fact that when the dog pulls on the leash, the force redirects the dog back toward you. Mr. Crazy would flip himself on his head. After he learned not to pull that hard, you could see him pulling himself down the trail at a 45 degree angle, keeping as much tension on the leash as he could.

Eventually he outgrew the front-clip harness. We wanted something that was a little sturdier than the SENSE-ation model, whose only fault is that it relies exclusively on a plastic clip buckle. Working on the assumption that it wasn’t helping him much anyway, we switched back to a back-clip harness. We love this Lupine Model (ours is a nice blue, as seen in yesterday’s photo):

Lupine Harness

Lupine Step-In Harness

Except the back-clip reminded him of his past life as a sled dog.

I bought him a “fancy” collar for his first birthday, since he was fully grown. (From Karma Collars. Look them up. If you follow them on Facebook, once a month they do a “Free Leash Friday.”) To my surprise, and discovered largely by accident, he walked better on his collar alone than anything else.

BUT. I’m terrified that he’ll pull out of it at a moment of stress. He’s sort of between buckle positions, where one is a little tighter than I like and one is loose enough for escape. I also worry about him in obedience class, where he does pull against it really hard as the other dogs come in.

I think, in the end, we’re going to have to go with some combination. I don’t have a great solution for class–last week I took him on his harness, and not only did he pull more he pulled more for days afterwards. In the park I think I’m going to start clipping his leash to his harness the cheap way (with a carabiner). He’s usually wearing the harness anyway, because it clips into his car restraint. I also love this two-clip back-up leash from Karma Collars, which may go on the Christmas list. (We don’t have kids. Buying presents for the dog is where we get our Christmas fun. He astounded the family last year by knowing how to unwrap his own gifts.)

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3 thoughts on “Apparatus

  1. I’m always hesitant about offering advice but have you heard about the easy walk harness? It might be an alternative and works in a similar way to the Sensation but has a stronger clip. If you haven’t heard of it, here is a link to the Amazon site: http://www.amazon.com/Premier-Harness-Large-Black-Silver/dp/B0009ZBKG4

    There are also harnesses that go around the nose, but I can’t think of the name right now. I’ve never used one so I don’t know how it works exactly.

    Tugging is such a pain (literally, it hurts!) and you have my utmost sympathy. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it if Shiva hadn’t been so treat motivated! Good luck!

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    1. The Easy Walk is definitely the one I’m getting if we decide to change again. I think that front martingale will be more of a reminder than just the plain front clip.

      His day-to-day walking behavior isn’t *too* bad anymore, thank goodness, unless he’s in the back-clip harness. He does still pull, but unless he gets really excited it’s more of a low-grade tension on the leash.

      What he really needs at this point is probably more consistent practice. His phobias plus the heat mean that we don’t walk every day by a long shot.

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  2. Harnesses with the D-ring on the back just encourages dogs to pull, hence the harnesses that now have the D-ring on the front. The dogs will still pull, but it sure won’t be like they do with the back D-ring harnesses. Dogs have that inate nature to want to pull when secured in a harness, especially if a former sled dog! That just makes sense why he is pulling with a back D-ring. Try the Easy Walker or the head halter called a Gentle Leader. Yes, the dog may fight the GL, but as long as you have it fitted properly and make wearing the GL a positive thing (treat, treat, treat,) it shouldn’t be an issue. It is amazing how they work. Just some thoughts…

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