Harnesses and Collars

Rosanda

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Recently I saw an interesting article on harnesses. I was unaware that many harnesses can be uncomfortable or even painful for the dog. This, added to my already sparked interest in collar types, leads me to post this. What types of harnesses are best? Collars? For dobermans? And, of course, for GSDs? I think sport has something o-o do with it, but for now I'm just looking at every day products.
 

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If you want a harness to just walk a dog, I always recommend to my clients to get one where the leash clips to the front of the harness on the chest. This type of harness works well for walking because you control the "front" of the dog, that is the dogs direction can be easily changed from, for example, if they are pulling to the side a quick tug straightens them back out and moves them forward. The reason I never recommend a back clip harness is you then put all the power of the dogs chest into their pulling capability which is not what one looks for when walking a dog. I have tried many types of back clip harnesses, including ones that guarantee to stop your dog from pulling, but have never found one that actually works.
If you are looking for a harness for anything other than walking, I really have no clue on what would be good! Just to clarify, I use a prong when walking the Sinisters!
 

JanS

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What types of harnesses are best? Collars? For dobermans? And, of course, for GSDs? I think sport has something o-o do with it, but for now I'm just looking at every day products.
I'm totally anti-harness unless they have a purpose (like sled dogs). I've never owned one for any of our dogs and I never will.
 

Rosanda

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If you want a harness to just walk a dog, I always recommend to my clients to get one where the leash clips to the front of the harness on the chest. This type of harness works well for walking because you control the "front" of the dog, that is the dogs direction can be easily changed from, for example, if they are pulling to the side a quick tug straightens them back out and moves them forward. The reason I never recommend a back clip harness is you then put all the power of the dogs chest into their pulling capability which is not what one looks for when walking a dog. I have tried many types of back clip harnesses, including ones that guarantee to stop your dog from pulling, but have never found one that actually works.
If you are looking for a harness for anything other than walking, I really have no clue on what would be good! Just to clarify, I use a prong when walking the Sinisters!
Well, my only question was discomfort of the shoulder blades. It would seem the front clips would cut down on that. My research didn't get me far. What would you use for sport?
 

Rits

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Well, my only question was discomfort of the shoulder blades. It would seem the front clips would cut down on that. My research didn't get me far. What would you use for sport?
You don't want anything cutting cross the shoulder/chest, like the Julius K9 harnesses you see, or the chest plate sitting too low or too high on the sternum which can cause trachea issues. Anything that would disrupt full range of motion of the shoulder is a no no.

I personally don't like the ones that clip on the front for growing puppies either especially if they are serious about pulling as it affects their gait (that's how it works, is by pulling them sideways/off balance). I would focus on teaching the foundations of loose leash walking instead or use a prong collar when the excitement level is too high to maintain loose leash walking.


This video from a canine fitness trainer does a great explanation of proper fitting. There is no one harness that fits all dog bodies nor one that is proper for all sports.


In nose work you don't want to discourage a dog at all from the game. With all the obedience training we do teaching them that pressure on the collar equals no forward motion, you don't want that in Nosework! So we use a harness that freely allows them to pull/drive forward.

When we go on walks, I will walk Ripley wearing a harness. I go from the prong/flat for training purposes then to the harness as a reward for a job well done. When she is on the harness she is allowed to sniff and be a dog for her reward! I don't expect her to have 100% attention on me for an hour walk so I want to make the signal clear when I expect it of her and when I don't, just by the tools and body language.

I've been using a harness I got at Petco (Reddy brand) 🤪 as it was the best thing when I bought it for a quick purchase but will probably upgrade to a nice tracking one if we continue to be serious about Nosework and beyond. I'm sure @Doberman Gang or @Ravenbird have recommendations for agitation and tracking harnesses!
 

Ravenbird

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Totally agree with statements above. I'd never use a harness for walking a dog or every day strolling. For me they only come out for specific work, and in my case it's nose work or protection/bite work. Asha knows exactly what's going to happen depending on which harness I put on. So if you use one for a single reason, don't mix it up with casual strolling around the block! I use to think being collar-wise was a bad thing, but it really works to your advantage if you train lots of venues.

I use an inexpensive ComfortFlex harness for Nose Work. In nose work the dog is not pulling on you - the dog goes where it wants and is totally independent in this sport - you let the dog tell you where the hide is, so totally loose line when working. This is used as an indication of what we are going to do, not for her to pull on. It does go straight across the chest, which I wouldn't choose if she wore it a lot or I had to control Asha for more than just going to the start line in nose work. My favorite thing about this harness is you don't have to put a leg through a hole. Over the neck and fasten under the girth.


For protection/bite work training I got a beautiful quality leather harness from Dean & Tyler, a V neck to pull hard into, fully adjustable in every direction, super strong, soft & supple. She can pull and jump and lunge against it and I have no worries about her getting hurt or the mechanics failing.


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Rosanda

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Thanks for the replies. My concern for walking Shylah is that if I'm on the road, I want her to be aware and prepared for threats. It is not exactly safe for either of us to let our guard down ever. From what I have seen when protection mode kicks in is a lot of neck strain. Because both Twilight and Shylah are serious about protecting, they strain, lunge, claw the ground, and growl (the angrier they are, the less they bark). With a collar they usually end up choking, although that doesn't stop them, and come away coughing a little. For this reason I got a harness for them, but I do think it is the to cause a strain. Shylah is leash receptive, but since I tend to want her wanting to work, hunt, and range, I haven't concentrated on loose leash walking. Perhaps I should, but I only wanted her receptive to leash movement, which usually a small tug and a change in direction from me accomplishs that.

Oh, I usually will hold them around the chest when they go into attack mode to cut down on collar pressure.

Lastly, Shylah has developed a lump/abscess on her neck (possibly from her injection or an insect bite) which caused me to remove her collar for the time being. Antibiotics are not preferable as she has already been on one type for a month, and another for a week before that. It will probably need to be drained at the vet's, but I just came down with something. Reminds me of dengue, but I'm not sure going to the vet with "covid like" symptoms is going to work. And Shylah cannot go without me as I'm the only one she really trusts in this situation. It would be very damaging for all my work with her. Anyway, I wanted to see about harnesses for this purpose as well.
 

Rits

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In nose work the dog is not pulling on you
Tell that to Ripley. She is raring to go at the start line right to the scent. I have to run to keep up with her lol! I have a 15' lead now so that should give her some lead out but her enthusiasm for everything is always high.
 

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As I said, I use a prong collar on the girls. I tested harnesses so that I could give solid advice to owners in my class who wanted to use them, I personally don't like harnesses for walking or everyday activity.
 

Ravenbird

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Tell that to Ripley. She is raring to go at the start line right to the scent. I have to run to keep up with her lol! I have a 15' lead now so that should give her some lead out but her enthusiasm for everything is always high.
Yes, Asha is just like this going to the start line. I hold the handle and pick her front feet up off the ground. LOL, the ComfortFlex actually holds her, but it's for very short periods of time. If I had to hold her by the leash going to the start line, I'd lose the battle. I haven't heard your Ripley Report doing NW - or AKC calls it Scent Work! You better start a thread and tell us how it's going!
 

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