Friday, October 14, 2016

Anti-Pulling Equipment for Dog Walking

Head Collars

Head collars are similar to horse bridles. They go around a dog's neck and muzzle, which gives the dog owner the ability to direct the dog by his head and prevent major pulling. While head collars work quite well, they can also prevent the dog from doing "calming signals" (natural body language to avoid conflict) so I usually recommend this tool only for special cases, such as elderly or pregnant dog owners with big strong dogs, and for dogs who do not mind wearing the head collar. In my experience, only 1 out of 6 or so dogs will accept the head collar willingly. Others will show their dislike for it quite obviously, i.e. scratching at their face. Below are a few of the many brands out there:
Control Ease Dog Headcollar - This is my favorite brand, because the head collar is padded with neoprene, helping to avoid chafing.

Gentle Leader Headcollar - This one does not have the padding mentioned above, but it's more widely available, including at big pet stores like Petco and Petsmart.

Halti Headcollar - This is another good one. It doesn't have extra padding either, but it has a safety clip that attaches to the dog's neck collar, so that the head collar doesn't have to sit so tightly on the dog's muzzle.
K-9 Bridle - This is a really nice one with a completely different design than the others. It's made of a soft fabric too. It's made in the UK though and is a bit more pricey than the others.

Front-clip Harnesses

Front clip harnesses are my first choice for dogs that pull. It doesn't prevent the dog from turning his head and giving "calming signals" but it curbs the pulling to a manageable level, especially when combined with training.

Freedom No-Pull Harness - This is my favorite one. The bottom part uses a velvety fabric which helps to prevent chafing behind the dog's front legs. It has a front clip (for anti-pulling) as well as a Martingale-style back clip which not only makes the fit better, but can be used when you want to give your dog more freedom on the leash.

Halti Harness - This is a pretty good one. It's very affordable and is available at big name pet stores. It has neoprene on the bottom part to prevent chafing. I don' t recommend this for serious pullers though because the front clip portion shifts when pulled hard.

Easy Walk Harness - This is a decent one although I've found that the sizes/fits are not very good. It doesn't have any padding on it either so some dogs experience chafing behidn the front legs. The front clip is Martingale-style, so it shifts a bit more than I like.

Sense-ible Harness - This is a pretty good and affordable one too but not widely available.


If you don't have access to anti-pulling tools, you can use a long leash and create a makeshift harness. The method I like to use, which works on my high energy 80-lb Lab, is #1 in the link below:


Martingale Collar (limited slip) - While this collar works well on dogs with narrow heads that might easily slip out of a regular collar, it doesn't serve as an anti-pulling tool.

Slip Collars and Choke Chains - This collar works in such a way that if the dog pulls, the hole in the collar tightens on the dog's neck, thereby choking him. This tool can curb pulling with some minor pullers, however I would say that many dogs will pull anyway and start choking or coughing. It's not very pleasant. Also if your dog is in any way fearful or reactive, the "correction" they get when pulling towards a trigger can exacerbate their negative emotion.

Prong Collars -  This collar has prongs that stick into the dog's neck. It puts pressure on the dog's neck in many spots if he pulls on the leash.  Some dog owners swear by this tool. I would recommend this tool over a choke chain, although again, I wouldn't recommend it for emotionally sensitive dogs that might develop negative associations. Also, I should mention that some dog owners have told me that their dog ended up losing their hair and getting raw skin where the prongs were pinching the neck.


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