On and Off Lead - Part 2
Last blog I talked about places to walk your dog on and off-lead, how to be best prepared and things to look out for. Whether you are walking your dog on or off of a lead, at some point your dog is going to need to be attached to you somehow - not everywhere is safe for even the best trained dog; busy roads for example, it only takes one small distraction for tragedy to strike…
Dog Equipment can be a confusing world to enter into. The market is saturated with a plethora of equipment, all promising to magically fix your dog’s behaviour all by itself. What’s more, much of this equipment is of questionable quality and often with unethical work practices.
So first of all, what kind of lead and collar or harness should you buy?
A lead is the single piece of equipment that connects you to your dog, so make sure it is the best quality that you can afford!
Leather leads are strong and durable, but require care and maintenance, especially if they get wet, and can crack and split if not cared for. A wonderful alternative is a material called SYNTEK, a synthetic material feels a lot like leather but is in fact stronger than leather, is 100% weatherproof, and comes in a huge variety of bright colours.
Clips and fittings should be made of stainless steel or brass - cheaper leads will have chrome-plated clips that crack and rust over time, and never rely on a plastic buckle!
Lead length is something to consider as well - too short and your dog will pull constantly, too long and it your dog will inevitably end up tangled. Many leads come with rings partway down them so you can use the clip to shorten them if needed, a very handy feature! 1.5m to 2m long is a good length for general walking and training.
There are two different kinds of collar - the one they wear day-to-day with registration and ID tags, and one for when the dog is on-lead.
These can be the same collar in some cases, depending on how big and well trained your dog is - a medium thickness leather collar with sturdy buckles for example could serve as both. If your dogs everyday collar is made of fabric, has plastic clips or is relatively lightweight then you should definitely invest in a collar specifically for walking on-lead!
Collars for walking a dog can range from the leather kind, to the more technical pieces of equipment such as “check chains”, martingales or other chain-type collars. There are many opinions regarding these more technical collars and how ethical or humane they are. At the end of the day, ANY piece of equipment can be used incorrectly and cause harm to an animal. When used correctly however they can be fantastic - more to come on that topic
Harness are great at what they were invented for - pulling things! From the indigenous North Americans to the gold prospectors of the Yukon, harnesses were invented for dogs to pull heavy sleds across great distances - it literally “harnesses” the strength from the strongest part of the dog (its chest and forelegs) and you can get that when they feel that pressure that thousands of years of learning is going to kick in!
Certainly for smaller “toy” dog breeds where an owner might be concerned about injuring their dogs small neck, a harness can be a simple fix, but for anything medium sized and upwards you really will be empowering your dog and encouraging it to pull harder.
It should always be kept in mind that equipment won’t fix your dog’s behaviour - they are simply tools to be used in the right (or wrong) way. The number one thing when using new equipment is to do some research about HOW to use that piece of equipment, or drop me a line - there is nothing better than getting your local dog trainer to show you exactly how to get the most out of your new purchase!