Training a dog is not always easy, as many owners will attest. Trying to get an animal with limitless energy and no grasp of the English language to follow your commands can sometimes seem like trying to control the wind, especially when out for a walk. Some owners will turn to a dog harness in order to better control their dog, while still allowing them to be comfortable, however, many owners quickly realize that their dog is still pulling on the leash with the harness on.
This can be quickly explained as the fact that harnesses are actually a tool that induces pulling!
So, before you go buy a new harness for your pup, ask this: How do they work, and might they be something you should try out based on your needs? There are many bright sides of this tool, as long as you understand what it is truly best for in a training environment.
For one thing, many trainers feel that a harness is actually much more humane to teach dogs because of the way they fit. A harness goes over the dog’s two front legs and sits around her midsection. This can be more comfortable for a dog than when she gets a tug correction on a neck collar. A tug on the harness is still felt by the dog, but doesn’t jerk her neck the way a collar can.
On the other hand, a dog harness can be harder for an owner because the dog harness sits on the strongest part of the dog’s body. There is usually more tugging from both the owner and the dog, as a dog harness was originally created for sled dogs to pull. It is important to realize that the original intention of a dog harness is to teach pulling, not walking.
A dog harness places all weight on the dog’s shoulders and chest, and of course this is a safer option for the dog, as these areas are stronger than the neck. One of the ways a dog harness is used today is for protection work. This is done by creating a feeling of restraint by holding the dog back by its harness when the dog is eager to get to something. This tension creates frustration and excitement, thus adding more fuel for the dog when it is finally released to get to its target.
This technique is also used when teaching your dog the command “come”. By using that same built up frustration and excitement, you’ll get your dog to want to run directly to you, due to the added pressure working against him.
With that said, be aware of what your dog puts his attention to, as a harness does induce pulling and can create motivation for what your dog is pulling towards. For example, if your dog often tries to pull toward other dogs, being on a harness will only increase his motivation to get to the other dog, as the frustration and excitement is expressed in the same way as described previously. We may understand what is and is not appropriate to pull toward, but your dog may not know that difference.
There are many different sizes of harnesses available, although some are adjustable so they can fit over virtually any breed of dog. When shopping for a dog harness, be sure to get one that has soft or padded straps that go over the front of the chest of the dog for added comfort. Also, be sure that it fits loosely enough that he is not feeling constricted in any way, but snug enough that he can’t slip out. You should be able to comfortably fit a finger between your dog and the harness.
A harness is a great training tool if used properly. It’s important for any dog to be trained to behave well around strangers, and to stay with its owner until let go and allowed to run free. Once you know the uses and the affects it has on your dog, you, too, can take advantage of this useful training tool!
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