Dear Critter Corner: Our dog has taken to pulling while we are on walks or just about anywhere! We have been looking at front attach harnesses and head halters to help but are very confused as to what is best. Can you tell us the difference between the two and give some pointers to help with the pulling?
I recommend to start with a front attach style harness and then move to the head halter if you are still having problems. Most dogs take very easily to the harness, while they tend to need an adjustment period for the halter.
There are many brands of harnesses out there and each one fits just a little different but the function of each is the same. Some of the common brands on the market are the Wonder Walker, Freedom Harness, Sensation Harness, and Easy Walker Harness. These will help lessen your dog’s ability to pull because the leash attaches to the front, so when the dog gets to the end of the leash, it will redirect their body back toward you. Keep in mind the harness is a tool to help with the training of teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash not the magic fix.
Now if your dog is a serious puller or reactive while on their walks, I usually will recommend a head halter. My preference is the Gentle Leader brand but there are other brands on the market that all have the same function and each is styled all just a little differently. You will need to see what fits your dog’s head the best if you got his route.
Once you have your equipment, you will need to work on the training. An easy starting point is to reinforce your dog heavily for staying by your side. This may look like giving them a treat for every step or two to start but over time you will be able to increase the steps in-between treats. To be the most successful with this you will want to start where there are little to no distractions and add them as your dog’s ability to focus on you increases.
If you need more help with your dog, you can schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or enroll in one of our group classes at www.phs-spca.org.