Each dog is an individual and some need the aid of certain types of training collars or harnesses in order to learn to walk nicely on leash without pulling. I have put together some information about the different types of harnesses and collars to help you decide which is right for you.
Flat Collar – This is the standard collar that your dog likely wears each day with his/her identification tags. It is very easy for a dog to pull on a flat collar and it can also damage their trachea (especially small dogs) if they pull. Is it possible to teach a dog to walk nicely on a flat coller? Absolutely, but if your dog has been pulling for a long time, you may want to try something
else to help you.
Martingale – These collars are generally used on dogs that have smaller or the same size neck as their head like bulldogs or greyhounds. They do not tighten enough to choke the dog, but close enough to keep the collar from slipping over the dogs head. These are not particularly helpful in training loose leash walking unless your dog likes to stop and refuse to walk.
Pinch Collar – These collars are generally very effective, but in my opinion not necessary. When the dog pulls, the collar tightens and pinches the dog all around its neck. This collar give you an easy way out, rather than actually having to teach your dog to stay by your side. Once the collar comes off, the dog will likely pull again. This type of collar can also cause a negative association to other dogs (pull to get other dog, get pinched/hurt) and create leash aggression/reactivity.
Slip/Choke Collar – This is generally a chain meant to choke the dog as punishment for pulling. In my experience it is generally not very effective, unless corrections are perfectly timed. Many dogs will just choke themselves to get where they want to go. This type of collar can also cause a negative association to other dogs (pull to get other dog, get choked) and create leash aggression/reactivity.
Gentle Leader – The gentle leader is a well designed head collar that works in a similar way to a halter on a horse. By controlling the head, you gain control of the entire body. This is a more humane way to control pulling however some dogs have a difficult time adjusting to having something around their nose. If proper desensitization techniques are used, the dog should adjust to the head collar.
Easy Walk Harness – This is a front attachment harness that is a good management tool for dogs that like to pull. While it is generally not as effective as the head collar, it is a good alternative for dogs that will not tolerate something on their nose. It works by controlling the dogs shoulders from the front rather than attaching to the back which doesn’t really help pulling. The downside is that you need to be cautious of running with your dog in this harness. It can restrict movement when fitted properly for walking.
The Wonder Walker is another well fitting front attachment harness which is sold at Pampered Pooch Playground in St. Louis Park, MN.
Back attachment harnesses – Harnesses that are designed to attach a leash on the back of the dog are not designed to stop pulling. These are great to avoid your dog damaging its neck or trachea, but does NOT aid in pulling.