Pet Waggin’s Favorite Dog Walking Equipment
Leashes, collars, and harnesses. The pet supply store is full of them in a rainbow of colors and styles. Whether you’re a novice dog owner or an experienced one, finding the right dog-walking equipment can be tricky. You’re overwhelmed with choices, and friends throwing out “helpful” suggestions doesn’t make things any easier.
That’s where we come in. As professionals, we have insight into what we find works the best. At Pet Waggin’ we believe in positive reinforcement training. We don’t believe in aversive training methods which means that you will find that some products are on our “Absolutely Not” list.
We’ve compiled a few of our favorites and our not-so-favorites so you know what to look for when it comes to dog walking equipment. Keep reading to find out why we love certain items and why we think you should stay far, far away from others. Let’s get started!
Collars and Harnesses
For some dogs, a simple collar can be a useful tool for walks. For others, a collar should only be a place to hang a name tag. This comes down to your dog's anatomy. For brachycephalic, or short-nosed, dogs like bulldogs and pugs, a collar can put extra strain on your dog's respiratory system. This is also true of dogs with collapsing tracheas. Other dogs to avoid walking on a collar include:
Dogs with a history of spinal issues
Dogs with respiratory problems
Dogs with a history of glaucoma.
Our Favorite Collar
If you have a dog who can Houdini out of their collar, the Martingale collar was designed just for them. Originally designed for sight-hounds like Greyhounds, Salukis, and Whippets, who have very narrow heads compared to their necks, the Martingale is a wonderful training tool.
It prevents your dog from slipping out and helps train against pulling. It tightens without applying enough pressure to choke or otherwise injure your dog. It’s a great collar for active pups who need a gentle reminder that pulling is a no-go. Martingales come in a variety of circumferences and widths, like this one from Chewy.com.
Our Least Favorite Collars
These are the collars we recommend you stay far away from. They can cause injury if not used properly, and they can actually cause your dog to do the opposite of what you want them to do. While some trainers may still use aversive training, studies show these methods actually harm the bond you have with your dog. For that reaso, you should avoid:
E-collars- Also known as “shock” collars or remote collars, these are designed to allow you to deliver a “mild stimulus” to help train your dog. They are often used in conjunction with wireless fences. The reality is, many dogs will escape their fence and have learned not to return because the shock is unpleasant. These collars can have extremely bad psychological effects on your dog.
Pinch Collars- These collars look like torture devices, and they kinda are. Like any choke-type collar, if not put on correctly, the tension will not release when your dog stops pulling. So you now have prongs digging into your dog's neck area. These collars can badly injure your dog’s neck, trachea, thyroid, and esophagus.
As a general rule of thumb, we prefer harnesses for dog walking. They put no pressure on the neck, so excitable dogs aren’t hurting their windpipes. They can give you more control over a dog who you are training not to pull. They are also helpful if you have an older dog with mobility issues by providing an easy way to assist them in getting them up.
When selecting a harness for your dog, take its shape into consideration. You want a harness to fit snuggly, yet comfortably, and to not put pressure on the shoulder joints. In the case of small dogs, you want to find a harness that adjusts easily and in a lot of places so your dog can get the perfect fit.
Our Favorite Harness
We especially love the Freedom harness. It’s highly adjustable, comes in a wide variety of sizes, and the leash can clip to the front or the back.
But there are many great harnesses on the market. The key is making sure that your dog's harness properly fits their body.
Our Least Favorite Harnesses
When it comes to harnesses, most of “the bad” really comes down to fit. Your dog's weight, body type, and measurements should carefully be taken into account to ensure the harness is right for your dog. Avoid:
Step-in-harnesses- This isn’t universal, but if you have a small dog that does not enjoy being handled, a step-in harness isn’t the best fit for them. Having to continuously and regularly handle them and place them in their harness can really perpetuate their negative response to handling.
Unpadded harnesses that rub near the armpit- Your dog spends a lot of time in their harness. Make sure it’s not making them uncomfortable.
Any harness that puts pressure on the joints or affects movement.
For more about our favorite collars and harnesses take a look here.
The end goal of training your dog to walk properly is for them to walk in a way that allows slack in the leash, so you are directing and setting the pace. The more control your dog lets you have, the more freedom you can give your dog on the leash. The perfect leash should be 6-8ft long. This gives your dog room to roam and for you to let them sniff.
The best leashes also include a traffic handle. These handles are closer to the base of the leash and allow you to keep your dog closer to you in a high traffic area, or when you sense trouble brewing and want to keep your dog closer to you.
Our Favorite Leash
Our favorite leash, and the one each Pet Waggin’ team member uses, is the Primal Pet Gear leash. These leashes are 8 feet long with a padded traffic handle. They’re sturdy, come in a variety of colors, and best of all, they’re reasonably priced.
Our Least Favorite Leash
This leash is probably one of the worst things ever invented. It can, and has, caused severe injuries. Yes, lacerations, rope burns, and even amputations have all occurred due to this leash. We’re talking about the bane of every dog walker’s existence: the retractable leash.
A retractable leash gives dogs too much room to roam. Plus, the poor handle design can cause it to be easily ripped from your hand, and the thin leash is responsible for some horrific injuries. We highly, highly recommend all clients avoid these leashes - for their safety and their dog’s!
There you have it: The inside scoop on what Long Beach’s professional dog walkers use, recommend, and totally avoid. Having trouble selecting the right collar, harness, or leash for your dog? Leave us a comment or contact us, and we’d be happy to help!