Dogs Pulling and Harnesses
One of the most common issues that I help owners address is their dogs pulling. This is something I think most all owners have experienced with at least one of their dogs in their lifetime.
There are also several common misconceptions about what causes pulling on leash and we’re going to talk about what really causes dogs pulling.
Right out the gate dogs pulling is not caused by what harnesses, or them wanting to be the alpha. While we’re only going to talk about the former today, neither of those cause pulling with dogs.
Harnesses and Dogs Pulling
The big misunderstanding about harnesses is that they cause pulling, when instead the truth is that harnesses make pulling comfortable. Dogs pulling things as beasts of burden is not new and harnesses are how we are able to use dogs to pull things for us without injury, as well as use their bodies efficiently.
Think of it like this, attaching a heavy weight to a collar around your neck and trying to pull it is very much different than having weight attached to a chest harness and pulling that way. Neither piece of equipment caused the pulling, one is much more comfortable and safer. The same is true of our dogs.
Where Does Pulling Come From?
Dogs pulling generally is from a lack of understanding by the dog of how to walk on a leash. A lot of times owners clip a leash onto a dog with zero training at all of how the dog should respond to it, where they are expected to walk in relation to their owner, what tugging on the leash by the owner means, absolutely nothing is explained to the dog.
So naturally dogs don’t succeed at loose leash walking.
The first few times out on a leash might not be that bad, and by the time the owner realizes their dog is pulling it’s already a budding habit that is strengthening day by day. Or the dog maybe pulled like a freight train from day one and the owner doesn’t know how to curb the issue, so likewise the dog’s pulling habit is strengthened through repetition.
So we have handlers and dogs who aren’t communicating with the leash properly, unwanted habits growing by the minute, and the blame falling on the equipment. It’s a mess.
Is There any Equipment That Stops Pulling?
The short answer is no. There are many types of equipment that help with training a dog not to pull, however it is the training that is addressing the issue and not the equipment. The equipment merely makes the training easier. It is totally possible to teach a dog not to pull without any special equipment, many trainers do this all the time. I myself use harnesses for the majority of my client dogs, because it’s the techniques that are teaching the dog how to walk on leash.
There are no pieces of equipment that will magically replace the need to teach a dog what is expected of them when they are on leash. It is a skill that needs to be developed if you dog want your dog pulling, and practice is involved!