22 May 2011

Harness or Gentle Leader Head Collar?

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There are many different opinions on what is the best way to control your dog on a lead. Many people with smaller dogs, or larger dogs that a good at lead walking can just use a collar. But what about those of us who have a dog that tugs, or a dog that when he wants to cross the road, will go, taking you with him? Both harnesses and Gentle Leaders or Haltis claim to solve these problems but, which one is best?

Both the leaders and the harnesses have positives and negatives to them.

The Gentle Leader

I would recommend the Gentle Leader as opposed to the Halti, purely because it is made better and will stay on longer without breaking.

There are three main benefits to having a leader. First, from where it is on his head, you have full control of your dog, big or small. If you need to turn round you can with ease, taking your dog with you. Second, when you tighten your lead, the leader closes around your dog’s mouth, this is handy if you need to close his mouth if he is being aggressive towards another dog or person. However, it is important to note that the leader is NOT a substitute for a muzzle. The last benefit is that in a situation where you need to get your dog somewhere and fast, you can. For example, if he wants to run out in front of a car, you can stop him without being dragged out with him.

However, with these benefits come some negative aspects. Dogs take a while to get used to the leaders and will try anything to get it off. Unfortunately, this means scratching their noses with their paws or along the ground. This can lead to your dog’s nose becoming cut. This can also lead to your dog’s attention decreasing. Whilst trying to get the leader off, they will not listen to you. The main drawback to the leader is that it can come off if your dog pulls backwards out of it. Because the lead is only attached to the leader, your dog will roam free if it does come off.

The Harness

Harnesses come in all shapes and sizes, you won’t know what is best until you try some on in a pet shop. The harness is great because it won’t cut your dog’s nose. It sits easily around his body, if fitted correctly and your dog will not even notice it on. This means more attention on you when walking. With the harness, if you need to grab your dog to move him away from a situation, you can hold the harness and literally pull your dog out of harms way. Even with Bo, a 50kg German Shepherd; I can lift him up with the harness enough to get away from something and I am almost the same weight as him! Your dog will not be able to get out of the harness due to the way it encompasses his body, another positive on the leader.

The downside to the harness is that your dog can still tug on it, so you will need to teach him some manners. However, this tugging is manageable in comparison to just having a collar. The harness is not as controlling as the leader. Because the leader maneuvers your dog using his head, it is very good at turning. The harness just can’t do that.

Having used both, I prefer to use the harness; Bo never got used to his leader and did cut his nose on numerous occasions. Although he is a bigger and strong dog, I prefer to have his attention using the harness than not have his attention with the leader.

I have given you the facts of using both a harness and a leader. Your dog may react very differently to mine, so have a try of both and see what you think!


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