I’m sure I am not the only one who could easily spend an hour in a pet store, but I’m a little embarrassed to acknowledge how much time I spend in them. I recently found myself starring at the vast wall of leashes and collars in Mud Bay’s shop and it got me thinking about leash, collar, and harness, preferences. There are so many options…so many options.
My malamute was a terrible puller, or a really good puller depending on how you look at it. She should have been a sled dog she was so good at it. I was around 12 years old when we adopted her, and my skills as an animal trainer had not really yet developed. I spent so much time looking for a leash, collar, or harness combination that would make the pulling cease. What did I find? Nothing. I figured out that if the dog truly wants to pull, she will find a way to do so whether it means craning her neck against a gentle leader or not. I did find though that she responded well to a faster pace. So I trained her to run along side my bike, and the pulling ceased. She just wanted to run, not necessarily to pull.
I do often get people who ask me what to use to keep their dogs from pulling, and honestly, it depends on the dog. Like I said earlier, there was nothing that could stop my malamute from pulling apart from a faster pace. I know a yellow lab who will also pull her way through anything, nose harness, front clip harness, or any contraption I have found. But then there is her ball. She will follow close to you no matter what if you show her a ball. The ball is her reward, her treat, her reinforcement for walking at your side. It’s a leash without an actual rope.
I know another dog however that when I first met her, I thought she would be a phenomenal puller. She is a boxer mix, and full of strength. Her owner however showed me a type of harness I have never seen before, something he picked up at the fair. Put that on her and she suddenly stopped pulling. Will it work on every dog? Probably not. Some? Clearly it does.
There are so many different kinds of leashes. I would probably die if I knew just how much money I have spent buying and trying new kinds of leashes. Recently I purchased a leash that is made of recycled climbing rope. I love it. For my malamute, I have used a leash that is very similar to a lead rope you use of a horse. I have a friend who prefers a leash with a super stiff handle, one thats kind of like the handle of a ski rope. To me its bulky and uncomfortable, but to each his own.
Point is, their is probably not an end-all, cure-all to any pulling woes you may have. What you have to do is find the right tools for teaching your dog not to pull. Tools that you are comfortable with, and that your dog is comfortable with. It may be a special harness or halter, or it might be a tennis ball on a rope. Whatever works folks, whatever works.