Dog Harnesses - A Necessity For Every Dog
Dog Harnesses - A Necessity for Training and Walking Your Dog Safely
A harnesses is a necessity if you are a dog owner, especially if you own a small dog. Growing up, I always had large dogs and they were always walked with a traditional collar and leash, so when I went out to buy my dog a collar, a dog harness wasn't even a thought. Needless to say, it was news to me when I found out that walking a dog, especially a small dog, with a traditional collar can be dangerous to its health.
Not only can it be dangerous to use a traditional dog collar, but it can also make training your dog more difficult. To many pet owners, myself included, your pets are like part of your family. As part of the family, your dog's health and well-being should be a major concern. If you are not currently using a harness to walk your dog, you should look into it, and make the switch. Dog harnesses can be purchased just about anywhere you can buy a dog collar, and they typically aren't that much more expensive than a collar. Go ahead and make the change...Your dog will thank you, and you will wonder why you didn't make the switch sooner.
Photo is my own personal image of my dog Midnight.
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras
Step In Dog Harness
I have two small dogs and have tried a few different styles of harnesses, and I have found that the step in type of harness seems to work best. You don't have to try to fit something over your dogs head...you just slide it over their two front legs. It wraps around the body and snaps easily at the dogs back. I have not had my dog slip out of this type of harness and it seems to be comfortable for my dog Gator.
Do You Currently Walk Your Dog With a Harness?
NCAA Dog Harnesses
If you are a college sports fan, why not have your dog show their support for your favorite team too? One of my dogs is named for my favorite college sports team (the Gators), so I would definitely like him to show his support too. If only they had a Gators harness, but they do have several teams to choose from including the Georgia Bulldogs, shown here.
It is Safer to Walk Your Dog With a Harness
Photo Credit: My own personal image of Gator and Midnight pictured in a step in harness and over-the-head harness.
When I first got my dog Midnight, many times when I would walk him with a traditional collar and leash I noticed that he would cough and almost sound like he was choking. Let me first point out that Midnight's idea of walking is pulling to see how quickly he can get to where he thinks he is going. After having Midnight for a few months I found out from someone who owned a small dog why Midnight was having this problem while walking.
When you walk your dog with a traditional collar, the collar is putting pressure on your dogs neck and throat. This is not only uncomfortable for the dog and can make it hard for it to breathe, but it can also cause damage to the dogs trachea and/or neck. By switching to a harness the pressure is moved away from the neck and distributed more evenly throughout the dogs body. Small dogs are going to be more sensitive in the neck area because they are so much smaller and more delicate, but that doesn't mean that all dogs can't benefit from a harness.
Some dogs are also extremely crafty and like to try and slip out of their collars. Now don't get me wrong, it is still possible for a dog to slip out of its harness,depending on the type of harness, Midnight is my proof of that, but it much more difficult to do as long as you have purchased a harness that fits correctly and is put on correctly.
Nylon Dog Harnesses
I use nylon dog harnesses for both of my dogs. One is 10 lbs. and the other is just under 14 lbs. There are no sharp pieces and the harnesses do not seem to irritate their skin or cause problems with their hair at all. Since Midnight is not the most calm of walkers it can be difficult to walk both dogs together, but the harnesses are definitely a big help and no more choking.
When you walk a dog with a traditional collar you have very little control over the dog due to the fact that the leash is attached at the dogs neck. This might be okay if you have a dog that just likes to take a leisurely stroll. For those who have dogs that like to pull or that are aggressive or get excited by people, other dogs, cars, etc., then having very little control could pose a problem.
By walking your dog with a harness and leash, you will now have more control over the dogs actions due to the fact that the harness is attached and located more centrally on the dog. I am not trying to tell you that switching to a harness will fix all of your problems when walking your dog. You do of course have to put in the effort to train them not to react and to walk at a more controlled pace, but the harness is a great start to make this training process easier for you and potentially more comfortable for your dog.
Soft Dog Harnesses
The soft dog harnesses can be nice if you are looking for something that is more stylish and also if you want something that is a little softer to the dog's skin and/or fur. Depending on the brand, various types of padding are put on the inside portion of the neck opening for a more comfortable fit. This type of harness does typically slide over the dogs head.
Dog Neck Injury Statistics
Andres Hallgren, a dog behaviorist in Sweden conducted a study of 400 dogs with the help of his students and several chiropractors. This study is reason enough to make the switch. Just because your dog doesn't act injured it doesn't mean that they are not injured. The results to his study are as follows...
- 63% of the dogs examined had neck and spinal injuries.
- 78% of the dogs with aggression or over activity problems had neck and spinal injuries.
- Of the dogs with neck injuries, 91% experienced hand jerks on a collar and leash and/or strained against their leashes.
Dog Harness Information
- Dog Collar vs Harness
This blog provides used and benefits of harnesses vs collars.
- How to Fit a Dog for a Harness
Great instructions on how to make sure you buy the right size dog harness for the right fit and effectiveness.
- Different Types of Dog Harnesses
Detailed information on different types of dog harnesses based on dog type and needs.
Nylon and Retractable Dog Leashes
You have to have a leash to attach to the great new harness you got your dog! I use both a retractable leash and a nylon leash for my dogs. I find that the retractable leash is great for walks because it gives me the ability to allow the dogs to roam a little more freely when in an open area or to retract the leash and keep them close when needed. There are different size retractable leashes depending on how much slack you would like to allow your dogs and also based on their weight due to the amount of tension the leash can handle.
I typically use the nylon leash in a situation where I want to have more control, like when I take the dogs to the vet. You can buy nylon leashes in various lengths, widths, colors, and designs depending on your dogs size and your needs.