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A front-clip harness can prevent pulling often seen with neck collars.
Ask the experts

How to choose the right collar to walk your dog


There are two main reasons that dogs pull on the leash. When a dog feels pressure across the neck or chest they have an automatic reflex to lean into the pressure. The second is that when housetraining a puppy most people have the pup on leash and follow them around the yard until the pup does his business. This teaches the pup that walking on the leash means that they run ahead and their person follows behind.

When you go to the pet store to purchase a collar for your dog, the selection can be overwhelming. You will get advice from the person working the floor and many of your friends and neighbors as to what type of collar and leash may work best for your dog.

The most common type of collar is a leather or nylon collar that is good for holding your pet's identification information, but does little to help control your dog on walks. Whether your dog is big or small, walks are not fun if he is constantly pulling you and choking himself. And if the walk is not fun, the dog does not get walked, which can lead to destructive and other unwanted behaviors.

Some collars are designed to inflict pain if the dog pulls while out for walks. These collars might stop the dog from pulling, but there is often an unanticipated outcome. The dog walks well, but can become aggressive.

The dog learns that when he pulls toward something he wants he feels pain. He rushes to greet a new dog, he feels pain, he moves forward to meet a new person, and he feels pain. He associates the pain he feels with the approach of new dogs and people. He might begin to growl and bark at those who approach in an attempt to keep them away to avoid the pain.

Harnesses are often used to stop the dog from choking himself. The traditional harness fits across the dog's chest and the leash hooks on his back between the shoulder blades. These harnesses do stop the dog from coughing and choking because it takes the pressure off of his trachea. But the pressure is still felt at the front of the dog and that reflexive instinct is still there and now with the pressure distributed across the chest most dogs pull harder.

The harness that works best is a front-clip harness. The harness easily slips over the dog's head and buckles behind the front legs, the difference is that the leash hooks on the front of the dog, at the middle of the chest. This simple change in design changes the pressure from the front of the dog to the side of the dog removing the natural feeling for the dog to lean into the pressure.

Choose the right collar or harness for your dog so that walking him is fun for both you and your dog!

Tip of the week: Look for a no-pull harness that clips at the front of the dog. The Sensation Harness and the Easy Walk are available from a positive reinforcement trainer and in some pet stores. Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities with behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.