Choosing the right leash and collar
The leash and collar is one of the most important tools you have. In most places, it's even required by law when your dog is outside. But there are many different types of collars, and the options can be overwhelming. How do you choose the right one for your dog? And how do you best use it to gain control on the walk?
Simple leash and collar
If you don’t have issues on the walk, this can be a great tool. It allows you to keep your balanced dog safely by your side and out of harm's way. I recommend this for easygoing, happy-go-lucky dogs without obedience problems.
Remember to walk with your dog by your side or behind you. This is important to establishing your position in the pack.
For dogs with issues on the walk, this can be a great tool for correcting misbehaviors. If your dog is easily distracted by squirrels, other dogs, or just a strong gust of wind, the collar allows for quick corrections to get your dog back on track.
Give a quick, firm pull sideways on the leash. If you pull straight back, your dog will pull against you. Instead, by giving a quick tug to the side, you knock him off balance and get his attention. Always keep your dog's safety in mind when giving corrections! If you are unfamiliar how to use the tool, talk to a local professional or ask someone at the store for help.
Pack Leader Collar
The Pack Leader Collar helps keep the slip collar at the top of the neck, which is the most sensitive part of the neck. If you've tried a slip collar but had trouble, this tool may be the solution. I would recommend it for dogs that have trouble on the walk, particularly with pulling.
If you place the collar on the lower part of the neck, you are actually helping your dog to pull you around. Watch an Alaskan sled dog pulling a load. The harness fits at the shoulder around the base of the neck, because the lower part of the neck is where dogs have the most control and where all their pulling strength is concentrated. If you put it at the top, your dog will be more sensitive to your movements and react to what you are trying to communicate. Keep your dog's head up. Remove his nose from the distractions on the ground. This way, his focus will be on you and the migration ritual.
The harness can be a great tool if you want your dog to pull you. For example, if you want your dog to pull you around while you ride your bike or use rollerblades.
This is also a safe option for dogs with pushed-in faces that restrict breathing, such as pugs, dogs with trachea or throat problems, such as Pomeranians, and dogs with elongated, overly slender necks, such as Greyhounds, may have to avoid certain collars, such as slip collars.
No matter what collar you use, pay attention to your energy. The leash is a form of communication. Without a word, you are telling your dog where to go, what speed to walk, and when to stop. Take note of your body language. Stand up tall with your head up and your shoulders back. Walk like a pack leader! This energy will flow through the leash and be communicated to your dog.
The first step before selecting any collar should always be to talk to your veterinarian. He or she can take your dog's medical and breed background into account and make sure you are keeping your dog safe! If your dog suffers from extreme issues on the walk, I recommend consulting a dog behavior specialist in your area for guidance.
At night, visibility is safety, which is why bicyclists use lights and reflectors. You can buy a reflectorized harness or use reflective tape. Better yet, an illuminated collar, like the new Bright Light Collar™, is designed for safely walking your dog at night. The collar is solar powered and USB chargeable, and has two lighting options: a steady or flashing LED light.
How about your pooch? What's your favorite dog leash and collar, and why? Share it with us in the comments.