There are so many different types of dog equipment out there that it can be overwhelming to choose between products. Most of these things are benign but there are a handful of products that are just no good and can actually cause harm to your dog simply because of how they are designed. 

To help owners out I’ve compiled a list of things to never use or actively avoid using on your dog. Let’s get started!

Top 5 WORST pieces of dog equipment to use 1

Sporn Harness

The harness pictured above is called a Sporn Harness. Like several other brands it claims to help teach your dog not to pull. The straps that go under the dog’s front legs are thin by design; when the dog pulls, the straps tighten painfully in the dog’s armpits. This is an area of the dog’s body which is very sensitive to pressure like that. Due to how the straps are positioned there will be chaffing despite the padding, which of course is never a good thing. 

Overall this product is one that is fit for the garbage bin and there are much better alternatives on the market. You’ll never hear me recommend this brand!

Shaker Cans and Throw Chains

You may have received advice from a relative, friend, or even a stranger telling you how to discipline your dog or puppy. Popular methods include a what is called a shaker can, which is a jar or can that is filled with coins or pebbles. This is designed to be shaken or thrown at the dog with force to startle, scare, or hit them when they are doing something that is unwanted. Throw Chains operate under the same principle, and are simply a length of heavy chain used the same way. Additionally to the potential to inflict physical harm on your dog, there are often behavioral issues that can develop. Fear is the most common issue that can occur and that’s not something that any of us should be striving for in our relationship with our dog.

Both of these methods are never ways that are recommended or used by reputable and knowledgeable trainers. Punishment and force based methods are very outdated and cause unnecessary fallout in the relationship between yourself and your dog. Funnily enough, punishment based methods as a whole are not backed by science and are not kind or efficient to your dog. Training your dog does not require abuse or fear, and in fact should not contain it. 

Spray bottles

Top 5 WORST pieces of dog equipment to use 2

Many people are at a loss at how to stop their dog from doing something, and end up turning to spay bottles. The idea is that when you catch your dog doing something that you don’t like, you spray them with water as a deterrent. Once again, it is a punitive method and therefore isn’t likely to work in the way that we want or intend. There are two main problems with using a spray bottle. The first is that not all dogs think this is punishing, or grow to actually enjoy it, which means that you’re rewarding them when you spray. The other problem is that some dogs are the exact opposite and they don’t associate the spray bottle with the mistake they made, but rather they associate it with you. So instead of you being the light of their world and provider of all things good, you instill terror to some degree, especially those times when you’ve got your weapon in hand. 

Choke Chains

Doesn’t the name alone sound terrible? Choke chains are a type of collar that are designed to choke your dog. They are constructed like a garrote; thin, flexible, and tough. Because of their thinness they are very very severe as corrective tools and are known to cause permanent damage to a dog’s neck. Trachea collapse is not unheard of. These collars are designed to be punitive and to use strangulation. There are no redeeming qualities to them and it is a saddening fact that you can buy these types of collars at almost every pet store and have one fitted for any size dog.

Many owners simply don’t know how damaging these collars are, and nearly all trainers agree that this particular tool isn’t one that needs to exist. 

Furminator brushes

The Furminator brand is very well known and has been marketed heavily as being a product that reduces shedding. This brand of brushes though should be avoided. Not only does it not reduce shedding, the design can easily be damaging to your dog’s skin and cause what is called brush burn.

These brushes are sharpened. What this means is that between each tine it is literally a blade, which turns this brush into sort of a stationary shear. It cuts hair, which give you the illusion that you’re brushing out your dog’s coat, but you’re trimming it. The tines are sharp as well, so these will irritate your dog’s skin when the hair gets thin enough. It’s like trying to shave with totally dry skin and no shaving cream. x10. 

A good brush should be removing your dog’s dead hair, brushing away dust and dirt, massaging skin to help circulation, and leaving your dog’s fur intact. This is not what Furminator brushes do. Essentially they reduce shedding by cutting your dog’s hair off, and make the experience unpleasant for your dog due to the shaving action from the blades. 

A big no thank you to this particular brand.